Report: Ex-Mossad chief tried to pressure former ICC prosecutor to drop war crimes probe

Former Mossad chief Yossi Cohen speaks at a conference of the Makor Rishon newspaper at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem, February 21, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90/ File)
Former Mossad chief Yossi Cohen speaks at a conference of the Makor Rishon newspaper at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem, February 21, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90/ File)

Ex-Mossad chief Yossi Cohen tried to pressure former ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda into abandoning a war crimes investigation against Israeli officials, according to a report in The Guardian.

Cohen’s campaign is said to have taken place leading up to Bensouda’s 2021 decision to open an investigation into alleged breaches of international law committed by both Israel and the Palestinians.

Current ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan’s announcement earlier this month that he is seeking arrest warrants for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and three senior Hamas leaders was the culmination of his predecessor Bensouda’s investigation.

The Guardian quotes a senior Israeli official as saying that Cohen’s activities were “authorized at a high level” on the basis that the court posed a threat of prosecutions against Israel Defense Forces staff.

Four sources cited in the report confirm that Bensouda had briefed a small group of senior ICC officials about the former Mossad chief’s attempts to influence her, though a spokesperson for Netanyahu calls the allegations “unfounded.”

“The questions forwarded to us are replete with many false and unfounded allegations meant to hurt the state of Israel,” the spokesperson is quoted as saying in the report.

There is no response from Cohen or Bensouda.

Cohen finished his tenure as Mossad chief in 2021 and is considered a Netanyahu loyalist. It has been rumored in the past that the prime minister views Cohen as a potential successor.

Most Popular