Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism – The International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor should investigate as suspects for war crimes and crimes against humanity the senior Israeli commanders (“Prime Suspects: Who’s Running Israel’s War in Gaza”) identified by Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN).
DAWN submitted to ICC Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan KC the list of 40 Israeli military commanders who have taken part in, or who have direct command responsibility over operations that likely comprise indiscriminate and deliberate attacks on civilians, the use of starvation as a weapon, blocking humanitarian aid, and the imposition of the siege on Gaza. DAWN submitted this information in response to the Prosecutor’s November 17 call for parties to present to his office information relevant to its investigation team’s ongoing probe into violations of the Rome Statute in Palestine, including the current war in Gaza.
DAWN compiled the list, an organization chart of Israeli military actors active in Gaza, exclusively from official Israeli military publications that confirmed the presence of specific military units that have been either within the Gaza Strip between October 8, 2023 and November 13, 2023, or involved in imposing the siege on and shelling and bombing the strip in that time period. (One entry only was verified through a television interview with a commanding officer of the unit in question.) Each entry includes the name, rank, photo, and role of the commander of each of those units. The list includes officers from the rank of lieutenant-general and up who command units no smaller than battalion level forces. It covers nearly all branches of the Israeli military, as well as the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the unit that administers the siege on Gaza.
“These 40 IDF commanders who have been responsible for planning, ordering, and executing Israel’s indiscriminate bombardment, wanton destruction, and mass killing of civilians in Gaza should be prime suspects in any ICC investigation,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director at DAWN. “While Israel has done its best to conceal the identities of many of its officers, they should be put on notice that they face individual criminal liability for the crimes underway in Gaza.”
“Israeli criminal law does not establish any type of ‘command responsibility’ for war crimes, which means Israeli courts never hold senior officers accountable — while it almost always absolves their subordinates of committing serious war crimes,” said Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man, Director of Research for Israel-Palestine at DAWN. “Because Israel doesn’t even take the most basic step of investigating commanding officers, it cannot possibly argue the ICC is the wrong jurisdiction.”
Israel is attempting to conceal the identities of many of its officers involved in the fighting by publishing only their first names and hiding their faces in many publicly available materials, whereas the IDF identified many of the same officers in publications just weeks and months earlier. While DAWN was able to compile this list entirely from official and open source channels, there is a very real risk that the information may no longer be accessible by the time the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) starts looking to identify suspects. This makes compiling and publishing this list critical to the success of any investigation.
Israel has fired 140,000 munitions into Gaza in this war, “60 percent of them artillery rounds and 40 percent weapons dropped from aircraft,” according to data published by Newsweek.