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Lebanon reportedly retracts calls for ICC war crimes probe against Israel due to fear of backlash

Smoke rises on the Israeli side of its border with Lebanon following a rocket that was launched from Lebanon and fired towards Israel, May 26, 2024. (Photo: REUTERS/Ayal Margolin)

Ever since the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah began firing rockets into Israel on Oct. 8, Lebanon has repeatedly accused Israel of violating international law and even committing war crimes on its soil.

About 80 Lebanese civilians have been killed during the conflict between Hezbollah and Israel, according to Lebanese authorities. At least 10 Israeli civilians have been killed by Hezbollah rockets since Oct. 8. In addition, tens of thousands of Israelis remain internally displaced due to constant rocket and missile fire on the northern communities.

Last month, Lebanon’s caretaker government instructed its foreign ministry to file a formal request with the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate alleged war crimes committed on Lebanese territory since Oct. 8. However, it now appears that the Lebanese administration has retracted its previous decision to involve the ICC out of fear it could face a backlash. Neither Lebanon nor Israel is a signatory to the ICC.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Lebanese official told Reuters that the cabinet’s original ICC probe decision caused “confusion” and that such a legal move could potentially "open the door for the court to investigate whatever it wanted across different files." 

The issue is further complicated by the fact that Hezbollah holds seats in the Lebanese administration, thus making the entire Lebanese government legally responsible for the terror organization's ongoing aggression against Israel. 

Lebanon has reportedly opted to file complaints with the United Nations regarding Israel's aerial strikes against Hezbollah targets on Lebanese soil. This approach has been used by Beirut in the past, typically resulting in non-binding UN declarations that lack practical enforcement.

Ramzi Kaiss is a researcher in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Division at Human Rights Watch. Kaiss blasted the Lebanese administration’s decision to withdraw its request to the ICC after investigating human rights abuses in Lebanon.

"The Lebanese government had a historic opportunity to ensure there was justice and accountability for war crimes in Lebanon. It's shameful that they are forgoing this opportunity," he told Reuters. 

"Rescinding this decision shows that Lebanon's calls for accountability ring hollow," he added. 

Lebanon’s Information Minister Ziad Makary, who supported the initial ICC probe decision, said that, despite the reversal, Beirut would "continue to explore other international tribunals to render justice."

The terrorist organization Hezbollah has reported the loss of at least 300 members since Oct. 8. However, the IDF believes the true number is much higher and that the militia is trying to downplay its losses to preserve morale among its forces.

Earlier in May, a Hezbollah senior commander, Qassem Saqlawi was eliminated in an Israeli drone attack in southern Lebanon. Israel Defense Forces has reportedly killed at least 30 Hezbollah commanders in the past few months.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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