The International Criminal Court in The Hague just announced that it would be opening an investigation against Israel and Hamas to consider charges that war crimes may have been committed by Israeli soldiers and Hamas militants against each other’s civilian populations during the 2014 Gaza War. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately characterized the investigation as pure antisemitism. Palestinian members of Israel’s left-wing communist Hadash Party accused Israelis of having committed said war crimes. For years Israel has accused Hamas of deliberately firing thousands of rockets against Israeli civilian population centers and situating its own arsenals and militants in the midst of Gaza’s civilian neighborhoods.

What do we make of this?

The issue is complicated – what else is new in Israel? – but it’s important to understand what the International Criminal Court is, what is its jurisdiction, what is the historical context that gave rise to the 2014 Gaza War, what Israel did and why, what is Hamas’ modus operandi vis a vis Israel, what culpability Hamas has, and what exactly this investigation might mean for Israel and individual Israelis.

For a thoughtful discussion of the many issues involved, as a start, I recommend you listen to the February 11, 2021 weekly “Promised Podcast” out of Tel Aviv and specifically to the episode called “The Courts of Public Opinion & the Other Kind” edition.

Noah Efron (host and professor at Bar-Ilan University where he was the founding chairperson of the interdisciplinary program on Science, Technology and Society), Don Futterman (co-host, journalist and Education Director of Israel’s Moriah Fund), and Allison Kaplan Sommer (Haaretz journalist), discuss this issue in a 13-minute segment starting at 34 minutes 5 seconds and continuing to 47 minutes.

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