Cabinet secretary: ‘Time not yet ripe’ to investigate state’s handling of Gaza war

Yossi Fuchs pushes back against AG’s imploring resistant PM to form state commission of inquiry in response to ICC, ICJ cases; Netanyahu said to be seeking alternatives in Knesset

Cabinet Secretary Yossi Fuchs at a hearing on military service for ultra-Orthodox men, at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, June 2, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
Cabinet Secretary Yossi Fuchs at a hearing on military service for ultra-Orthodox men, at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, June 2, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Cabinet Secretary Yossi Fuchs on Friday turned down Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara’s request for the immediate establishment of a state commission of inquiry into the government’s handling of the war in Gaza to head off legal proceedings against Israel in The Hague.

“Israel is in the midst of a fierce war, and the time is not yet ripe to investigate the entire war and what preceded it,” Fuchs wrote to the attorney general, noting that the government alone was empowered to establish a state commission of inquiry.

He added that the cabinet had on Sunday discussed establishing a state commission only to investigate claims brought in The Hague against Israel’s humanitarian aid policy in Gaza.

“The legal team recommended the establishment of a state commission of inquiry for this goal alone [emphasis in original],” wrote Fuchs, taking issue with Baharav-Miara’s letter, in which she said her team recommended investigating the government’s handling of events before and after October 7, when the war began.

In a letter publicized Thursday, Baharav-Miara wrote to Netanyahu — who has so far bucked calls to establish the state commission — arguing that a state commission of inquiry is the best defense against the genocide accusations Israel is facing at the International Court of Justice, along with the arrest warrants sought by the top prosecutor of the International Criminal Court against Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

“Given the urgency of dealing with the threats on the international stage, our professional opinion is that there should be no delay in establishing a state commission of inquiry investigating the events of the war,” wrote Baharav-Miara.

File – Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara arrives at a Jerusalem Day conference at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem, June 5, 2024. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Jerusalem is facing a case brought by South Africa before the International Court of Justice accusing Israel of genocide in Gaza. Israel has pushed back on the accusations, saying it is acting in legitimate self-defense after Hamas’s October 7 assault, when thousands of terrorists stormed southern Israel to kill nearly 1,200 people and take over 250 hostages.

In tandem, International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan has petitioned the court to issue arrest warrants against Netanyahu and Gallant, accusing them of purposely denying food and water to civilians in Gazan.

The ICC becomes involved in international legal disputes only when nations are unable or unwilling to prosecute crimes on their territory, so that a state commission of inquiry could help forestall the warrants against Netanyahu and Gallant.

International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan (center) announces that he has requested arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif and Ismail Hanuyeh, May 20, 2024. (Courtesy International Criminal Court)

Netanyahu was already facing pressure to launch a state commission, as his critics have accused him of trying to evade responsibility for Hamas’s October 7 terror onslaught, which took place under his watch.

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