According to “The Guardian”, the episodes occurred before the formal start of the investigation into possible war crimes, in 2021.

Yossi Cohen, former head of Mossad (Israel’s intelligence agency), allegedly threatened the then ICC (International Criminal Court) prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in a series of secret meetings, the newspaper published The Guardian this Tuesday (May 28, 2024). According to the British newspaper, Cohen tried to pressure the prosecutor to abandon an investigation into possible war crimes.

The interactions between the Israeli and Bensouda took place in the years before the opening, in 2021, of a formal investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Israel in the territories occupied by the Palestinians: the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. At the time, Bensouda was acting as chief prosecutor at the ICC and Cohen was still head of the Mossad.

Bensouda’s replacement, Karim Khan, announced on May 20 that he had requested arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and leaders of the extremist group Hamas.

In a statement, Khan stated that he had “reasonable grounds to believe”based on evidence collected and examined by his office, that authorities bear criminal responsibility for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in the conflict in the Gaza Strip.

At the time of Cohen’s meetings with the ICC’s then-chief prosecutor, the former Mossad chief was close to Netanyahu.

O The Guardian said 4 sources confirmed that Bensouda informed a small group of senior ICC officials about Cohen’s attempts to influence her. Cohen reportedly pressured her, on several occasions, not to pursue the criminal investigation into Israel’s actions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

According to reports shared with ICC officials, he was quoted as saying: “You should help us and let us take care of you. You don’t want to get involved in things that could compromise your safety or that of your family.”.

US Department of State – 11.Nov.2015

Former US Secretary of State John Kerry (2nd from left to right) in a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (to his right) and the then head of Mossad, Yossi Cohen


Court workers likened Cohen’s behavior to stalking. Mossad would have obtained transcripts of secret recordings from people linked to the prosecutor, as was the case with her husband. Israeli authorities then attempted to use the material to discredit Bensouda.

Contacted by The Guardiana spokesman for Netanyahu’s office said the questions submitted were full of “false and unsubstantiated allegations designed to harm the State of Israel”. Cohen did not respond to a request for comment. Bensouda also declined to talk about the case.

An ICC spokesperson did not answer whether Khan, the current chief prosecutor, had reviewed the situations reported by Bensouda. However, he declared that Khan’s cabinet suffered the “various forms of threats and communications that could be viewed as attempts to unduly influence your activities”.

Shared secrets

In 2021, Israeli media revealed that the former head of Mossad revealed state secrets to a flight attendant with whom he had an affair, as well as to the woman’s husband. The episode would have occurred in 2018. Yossi Cohen denied revealing secret information. He was director of Mossad from 2016 to 2021.


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