Israel–Hamas face criminal probe from ICC; Lockdowns to ease: Israel Update

February 5, 2021

In a major decision released today, a pretrial chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) determined that The Hague has jurisdiction to open criminal probes against Israel and the Palestinians for war crimes alleged to have taken place in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. If Israel and/or Hamas are ultimately convicted of war crimes, and if senior officials are named in such a ruling, they would be subject to international arrest warrants if they travel. This could lead to a situation where certain member states would recommend that officials specified in the ruling avoid visits in order to not risk being detained. The case now returns to Chief Prosecutor of the ICC Bensouda, to decide whether she will move forward with a criminal investigation. 


Israel's Health Ministry introduced a strategy on Thursday to gradually lift the lockdown in three phases, and the coronavirus cabinet voted to approve the proposal. Businesses that do not cater to the public will be able to reopen Sunday. Restaurant takeaway services and businesses involving one-on-one interactions—like hairdressers, cosmeticians, and barbers—will also be permitted to reopen. The cabinet further decided that schools will open sometime in the coming week, once an outline for education is agreed upon by the Health and Education Ministries. The decision to extend the lockdown was reached amid a steady but high rate of infection. The latest health ministry data shows that 7,168 people are currently diagnosed with coronavirus. Of the total number of people tested, some 8.8 percent were found to be positive. The death toll surpassed 5,000 overnight, and, to date, 5,019 people have died from coronavirus in Israel. 


While Israel is leading the world in vaccination efficiency, the country is learning that vaccines may not be a cure-all for the virus. With complications brewing, experts say reopening the country may still take months. Heading the list of problems are coronavirus mutations that have spread from Britain and South Africa. Other problems stem from population sectors refusing to adhere to safety protocols, and inconsistencies in the pace of vaccinations for those people under 60. More than 20 percent of Israel's population has been fully vaccinated (two injections). Another 15 percent have been given their first shots, and will be fully immunized by mid-February. The government plans to have over half the adult population, or roughly five million citizens, vaccinated by mid-March


Syrian air defenses responded to "Israeli aggression" Wednesday evening, according to Syrian state television. The alleged attack came hours after Hezbollah—the Lebanon-based terror group—said it had fired an anti-aircraft missile at an IDF drone in Lebanese territory. Israeli's military confirmed the missile fire, but said the drone was not hit and continued its operation in the country. Earlier on Wednesday, two Iranian cargo planes linked to the Iranian Air Force and the Revolutionary Guard landed in Damascus, before returning to Tehran hours later. Separately, a Syrian Air Force cargo plane flew from Tehran to Syria's principal port city of Latakia. This week's incidents came amid lingering tensions between the IDF and Hezbollah over the killing of five pro-Iranian fighters in Damascus this past July. Syria's Iran-backed militia blames Israel for the deaths, and has vowed revenge.


The safety, health, and well-being of all community members is a priority for the Jewish Federation. Like many of you, we are closely monitoring the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic. This page is consistently updated to help our community stay informed about efforts to support the community during this time. For detailed information about the COVID-19 vaccination, please see this page.


Shabbat Shalom, 


Jackie Congedo, Director, JCRC


P.S. If you or a friend would like to get our own, up-to-the-minute Israel Update, you can sign up here; when asked for "interests" click "weekly Israel Update."

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Can I Support Israel But Disagree With Its Policies? Join us February 9th for a fascinating webinar with Neil Lazarus as he discusses how to support Israel despite your views on its policies. Click here to register for the event.


Crime in Israel's Arab Communities: Urgent Concern and Complex Realities: Join us on Wednesday, February 17 at 12pm ET for an in-depth discussion with Makbulla Nassar, Mandel Fellow, activist, and radio broadcaster, and Aya Mana’a, director of the community center in Majd al-Krum, for a discussion of these issues in Israel’s Arab society and the Karmiel-Misgav region. Click here to register for the event.



Our JCRC is curating a diverse schedule of webinars, hosted by our local and national partners, on Israel and other issues related to our work. Click here to view this calendar.


Together, we can do virtually anything. If you or a loved one need help during this crisis, please reach out to our COVID-19 Hotline.


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