Palestinian Organisations Review ‘Report on Preliminary Examination Activities 2020’ and Call on the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to Open an Investigation into International Crimes in the OPT

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Press Release: Al-Haq, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, and Al Dameer (the organisations) express concern that significant time has passed since the opening of the second preliminary examination on the Situation in Palestine in January 2015, and since the closing of that preliminary examination in December 2019, when the Office of the Prosecutor determined “that all the statutory criteria under the Rome Statute for the opening of an investigation had been met”.[1] The victims of continuing clearly apparent crimes, subject to intensifying occupation, discrimination, and violence require the immediate opening, at the very least, of a formal investigation into the Situation in the State of Palestine. The urgency of such investigation is further necessitated by the intensifying support by the United States of the unlawful settlement enterprise and of the unlawful annexation to Israel of occupied territory.

2020 Report on Preliminary Examinations

The Office of the Prosecutor’s 2020 Report on Preliminary Examination Activities recalls the Prosecutor’s conclusion in 2019 that “the Office found there was a reasonable basis to believe that in the context of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, members of the Israeli authorities have committed war crimes under article 8(2)(b)(viii) in relation, inter alia, to the transfer of Israeli civilians into the West Bank”.[2] Our organisations underline that criminal conduct related to the settlements includes also the potential liability of individuals and corporate actors complicit in unlawful trade with settlements, whose establishment and consolidation are marked by a myriad of Rome Statute crimes such as pillage, forcible transfer, and the extensive destruction and appropriation of property.

Since the closing of the Preliminary Examination in 2019, Israeli occupying forces’ (IOF) conduct, constituting war crimes and crimes against humanity under the Rome Statute, has continued, and is continuing. The United States, through the policies presented in the January 2020 ‘Peace Plan’, and, for example, through the visit of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to the illegal Israeli settlement of Psagot, located on Palestinian lands in Jabal Al-Tawil, outside Ramallah, has sought to legitimise such unlawful conduct.[3]

Our organisations welcome the acknowledgement in the Annual Report of the unlawful violence inflicted by the IOF on Palestinians in Gaza who have been demanding the enforcement of their right of return. While the Report notes “a reasonable basis to believe” that Israeli occupying forces have perpetrated war crimes, the widespread and systematic nature of human rights violations are equally appropriately categorised and labelled as crimes against humanity.

In relation to Israel’s closure and blockade policy, the 2009 UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict stated that: “The Mission further considers that the series of acts that deprive Palestinians in the Gaza Strip of their means of subsistence, employment, housing and water, that deny their freedom of movement and their right to leave and enter their own country, that limit their rights to access a court of law and an effective remedy, could lead a competent court to find that the crime of persecution, a crime against humanity, has been committed”.[4] Israel’s escalating domination of Palestinian society in the intervening period has only intensified, with conduct constituting forcible transfer, unlawful imprisonment, and murder as crimes against humanity, all under an overarching apartheid regime (reiterated by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in its 2019 Concluding Observations to Israel), and also a crime against humanity, continuing throughout the occupied Palestinian territory, constituting the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.

The Office of the Prosecutor recalled its January 2020 position that potential cases concerning crimes allegedly committed by Palestinians would be admissible, as would alleged crimes committed by Israeli authorities  within its settlement regime, yet stated that “the admissibility of potential cases concerning crimes allegedly committed by members of the IDF”[5] in Gaza[6] remain “under review”[7]Our organisations reiterate that individuals, whether members of the IOF, or others complicit in and responsible for the clearly apparent perpetration of Rome Statute crimes, have not been subject to any independent legal investigation in Israel. Israel has consistently failed to undertake any genuine accountability measures against individuals, at any level, apparently responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The urgently needed investigation into the Situation in Palestine must include the cases that are the subject of pending proceedings in Israel, as that system is empirically and conclusively evidenced to be unwilling or unable to genuinely carry out investigations and prosecutions.

The Israeli courts, further, continue to deny the very applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to occupied territory and are complicit not only in the transfer of Israeli civilians as settlers into occupied territory, but in attempting to legitimise the concomitant war crimes and crimes against humanity such as unlawful appropriation of property and the crime of apartheid.

The Imperative for the OTP to Open a Formal Investigation and to Avoid Further Unreasonable Delay

Responding to the Prosecutor’s decision to request “an expeditious ruling under article 19(3) of the Statute” from the Pre-Trial Chamber to confirm that the territory over which the Court may exercise its jurisdiction under article 12(2)(a) comprises the Occupied Palestinian Territory, that is the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza, our organisations noted in a joint Amicus Brief of March 2020 that it would have been appropriate for the Prosecutor to proceed directly to a formal investigation.[8]

An ICC Pre-Trial Chamber has held that the preliminary examination of a situation “must be completed within a reasonable time […] regardless of its complexity”,[9] noting “the profound impact and detrimental effect that the length of time between the occurrence of the crimes and the moment in which evidence is presented at trial can have on the reliability of evidence presented before a Chamber”,[10] as well as emphasising that “any delay in the start of the investigation is a delay for the victims to be in a position to claim reparations for the harm suffered as a result of the commission of the crimes within the jurisdiction of this Court”.[11]

In requesting a ruling from the Pre-Trial Chamber, the Prosecutor stressed the importance of an expeditious ruling, a point reiterated in the Office’s June 2020 statement to the Chamber.[12]

Also in June 2020, our organisations stressed, notwithstanding the closure of the preliminary examination, that the ongoing delay in the opening of an investigation into the Situation in Palestine consolidate the environment of criminality and impunity which characterise the occupation.[13] In the context of prolonged occupation and de facto and de jure annexation, ‘undue delay’ in the process before the Court needs be read with a degree of heightened and urgent imminence and immediacy. The Prosecutor’s 2020 Report on Preliminary Examinations concludes by noting that the Office “will continue to assess any new allegations concerning alleged Rome Statute crimes in the Situation in Palestine, as well as any information relevant to complementarity and gravity, pending a decision by the PTC on its request”.[14]

Recalling that the Prosecutor determined that all the statutory criteria under the Rome Statute for the opening of an investigation had been met, and since there is no indication as to when, or even whether, the Pre-Trial Chamber will respond to the Prosecutor, the organisations assert that it is imperative, in line with jurisprudence and the very function of the Rome Statute and given the State of Palestine’s referral, that a formal investigation is immediately opened. Regardless of the Article 19(3) process currently underway, and with due respect to the Prosecutor’s Office and to the Pre-Trial Chamber, in the face of the consolidated, ongoing, and internationalised assault on the right of the Palestinian people to dignity and to self-determination, it is beyond time for a formal investigation be opened, without any further delay.

[1] ICC-OTP, Statement of ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, on the conclusion of the preliminary examination of the Situation in Palestine, and seeking a ruling on the scope of the Court’s territorial jurisdiction, 20 December 2019.

[2] ICC-OTP ‘Report on Preliminary Examination Activities 2020’ 14 December 2020, para 233.

[3] Al-Haq, US Secretary of State Visit to Illegal Israeli Settlement, 18 November 2020

[4] Report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, A/HRC/12/48 25 September 2009, para 1936.

[5] ICC-OTP ‘Report on Preliminary Examination Activities 2020’ 14 December 2020, para 222.

[6] ICC-OTP ‘Situation in the State of Palestine’ 22 January 2020, para 94.

[7] ICC-OTP ‘Report on Preliminary Examination Activities 2020’ 14 December 2020, para 222.

[8] Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Al-Haq, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Al-Dameer Association for Human Rights, Submission Pursuant to Rule 103, PTC I, ICC-01/18, 16 March 2020.

[9] Decision on the “Prosecution’s Request for a Ruling on Jurisdiction under Article 19(3) of the Statute” ICC-RoC46(3)-01/18, 6 September 2018, para 84; Pre-Trial Chamber III, Situation in the Central African Republic, Decision Requesting Information on the Status of the Preliminary Examination of the Situation in the Central African Republic, 30 November 2006, ICC-01/05-6, p 4.

[10] Decision on the “Prosecution’s Request for a Ruling on Jurisdiction under Article 19(3) of the Statute” ICC-RoC46(3)-01/18, 6 September 2018, para 86.

[11] Decision on the “Prosecution’s Request for a Ruling on Jurisdiction under Article 19(3) of the Statute” ICC-RoC46(3)-01/18, 6 September 2018, para 88.

[12] ICC-OTP, Prosecution Response to “The State of Palestine’s response to the Pre-Trial Chamber’s Order requesting additional information”, ICC-01/18-136, 8 June 2020, para 7.

[13] Palestinian Human Rights Organisations Public Response to the Pre-Trial Chamber Request of 26 May 2020, 12 June 2020,

[14] ICC-OTP ‘Report on Preliminary Examination Activities 2020’ 14 December 2020, para 229.

(Source / 07.01.2021)

Army Injures Many Palestinians In Jerusalem

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Israeli soldiers injured, on Wednesday evening, many Palestinians in the al-‘Isawiya town, in occupied Jerusalem.

Local sources said the soldiers invaded the town, especially the ‘Obeid neighborhood, before stopping and interrogating several Palestinians, searching homes and stores, leading to protests.

They added that the soldiers fired many live rounds, gas bombs and concussion grenades at random, many striking homes and shops; dozens of residents suffered the effects of teargas inhalation.

It is worth mentioning that al-‘Isawiya has been subject to constant invasions and violations by the soldiers and illegal colonialist settlers, especially amidst plans to expand existing illegal colonies.

(Source / 07.01.2021)

Israeli Navy Attacks Palestinian Fishermen, Farmers, In Gaza

Israeli navy boats attacked with live fire, on Thursday at dawn, several fishing boats in Palestinian waters, north of Gaza city, in addition to farmers on their lands, east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the coastal region.

Eyewitnesses said the Israeli navy ships fired many live rounds at the fishing boats, in areas allotted for the Palestinians for fishing, near the shore of Gaza city.

In addition, the soldiers fired many live rounds into Palestinian farmlands, east of Khan Younis, forcing them to leave in fear of further escalation.

On Wednesday morning, on Wednesday morning, many live rounds into Palestinian farmlands in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

The random army fire poses a serious threat to the lives and livelihood of the Palestinian farmers, shepherds, and workers.

The Israeli army also carries out frequent assaults and violations targeting Palestinian farmers and workers, on lands near the fence, and the fishermen in Gaza territorial waters.

Such attacks have led to dozens of casualties, including fatalities among the Palestinians, in addition to causing damage to homes, property, and fishing boats, while the soldiers have also abducted dozens of Palestinians and confiscated their boats.

(Source / 07.01.2021)

Palestinian Human Rights Campaigner Charged By Israeli Court In Crackdown On Non-Violent Resistance

Israeli military courts are considered by many international observers to be “kangaroo courts” due to their near 100% conviction rate

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Palestinian Human Rights Campaigner and founder of Youth Against Settlements (YAS), Issa Amro, has been charged in an Israeli military court over involvement in grassroots non-violent organising against Israeli occupation forces and settlements in Al-Khalil (West Bank).

Issa Amro (40 years old), appeared in Ofer Israeli military court Wednesday, facing up to 16 military charges and was charged with 6 counts. The Human Rights activist has rejected the charges, claiming that the move was an attempt by Israeli occupation authorities to crackdown on Palestinian non-violent protest methods. The most severe amongst the 6 charges decided upon this Wednesday was a single account of “assault”, which was previously dropped from court in 2010 and was over an accusation that Amro had “shoved” an Israeli soldier.

Israeli military courts are considered by many international observers to be “kangaroo courts” due to their near 100% conviction rate. Leading Human Rights NGO, Amnesty International have said of the trial – ongoing since 2016 – that if convicted Amro would constitute being labelled a “prisoner of conscience”. Amnesty’s Saleh Higazi also said, in a recent January 5 press release, that ““Amnesty International has repeatedly called on the Israeli authorities to drop all the charges they have imposed on Issa Amro. It considers them all to be politically motivated and linked to his peaceful work in exposing Israel’s human rights violations.”.

Issa Amro also stated to Quds News that Israel is also looking to silence supporters of Palestinians against political division. Issa stated “The main issue, is that I am one of the people who is with Palestinian unity, since the first day of divisions I have been working very hard to stop division between Fateh and Hamas in Gaza and West Bank… ultimately they want to stop any voice against corruption, division and the occupation”.

Issa also said that “on the other hand, this was a request from the settlers in Hebron [Al-Khalil] from their leadership, to get rid of their main enemy in Hebron”. Specifically the Hebron illegal settler English spokesperson, former New York native David Wilder, had in 2013 called on the Israeli occupation authorities to go after Amro for “anarchist-terrorist activity”, in a letter published on Israeli media.

Issa also said to Quds News that he believes that Israel is engaging in a racist double-standard, whereby settlers get away with attacks on Palestinians and Palestinian peaceful protesters are jailed. He went on to say that “today in Hebron we are facing a large amount of attacks from the Hilltop Youth… settlers are calling for violence against Palestinians, organising violent protests, closing streets, attacking cars, attacking houses, attacking farmers and the Israeli authority doesn’t really care about their violence”. The Hilltop Youth are hardline religious extremists who believe that Palestinians should be ethnically cleansed and that violence is permissible to reach that end.

The decision on the length of Issa’s expected prison sentence will come on the 8th of February, as International Human Rights organisations fear that he will be given a lengthy prison sentence. Issa’s lawyer Gabi Lasky stated to reuters that she couldn’t predict what would happen in regards to the sentence, but did refer to a Palestinian in a similar case recieving 10-months in jail.

The number of claims made against the YAS founder have also been cited by observers tracking the cases origins back to 2016, when there were originally 18 charges levelled against Amro. All the alleged crimes that were said to have been carried out were said to have taken place between 2010-2016.

It has been noted that this case would represent a win for hardline settler leaders and set a precedence for further prosecutions of Palestinians belonging to non-violent organisation, specifically other who form the Youth Against Settlements (YAS) team, which have successfully hosted thousands of International volunteers, observers, campaigners and politicians.

In 2017 4 US Senators and 35 House representatives wrote letters to Israel stating that most of the charges levelled against Amro were not internationally permissible.

(Source / 07.01.2021)

Israeli occupation forces locked down entrances to Al-Mughayir village in West Bank

Occupied West Bank (QNN) – Israeli occupation forces locked down the entrances to the village of Al-Mughayir, to the northeast of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, local sources said.

The forces shut down the entrances to the village, banning entry and exit of local Palestinians to and out of the village, and forcing them to use alternative routes to enter or leave the village.

The village has been a frequent target of recurrent attacks by the Israeli occupation forces and colonial settlers, with much of the village’s land facing a threat of confiscation in favor of the colonial settlement project.

(Source / 07.01.2021)

Israeli occupation razed 59 Palestinian properties, delivered 54 demolition notices last month

At least 77 Palestinian citizens, including 27 children and seven women, have been affected by such demolitions

Israeli occupation army has demolished 59 Palestinian houses and structures over the past month, the Human Rights and Democracy Media Center (SHAMS) reported on Wednesday.

In its report, SHAMS added that seven out of the 59 destroyed structures were knocked down by their owners after being threatened to pay hefty fines or face prison by the Israeli occupation authorities.

The Israeli occupation authorities, in addition, confiscated five Palestinian-owned structures.

The Israeli Magistrate Court issued a decision ordering Jawad Abu Nab and Salem Ghaith to evict their homes in Silwan town in occupied Jerusalem to be handed over to Israeli settlers.

During December, the Israeli occupation authorities have issued 54 demolition, confiscation, or eviction notices against Palestinian structures, mostly housing units, in addition to commercial and agricultural facilities, cattle barns, and water wells.

The demolished properties included 29 houses and residential rooms, 20 housing structures, five tents, three makeshift houses, two service facilities, five water wells, two retaining walls, 17 commercial structures, two car wash shops, 12 cattle barns, two storehouses, 11 greenhouses and other agricultural facilities, three stalls, and three garages, in addition to a health facility, a park, and a village council building.    

According to the report, Jerusalem saw the highest number of Palestinian structures demolished last month, in which 17 properties were razed, followed by Hebron, with 15 structures demolished, and Jericho and the Jordan Valley, with nine structures destroyed.  

Hebron witnessed the highest number of structures targeted with either demolition, confiscation, or eviction notices by the Israeli occupation army, with 26 structures, followed by Jenin, with 18 structures, and Nablus with five structures.  

At least 77 Palestinian citizens, including 27 children and seven women, have been affected by such demolitions over the last month, the report pointed out.

(Source / 07.01.2021)

Report: 226 prisoners died in Israeli jails since 1967

Days of Palestine – Ramallah – The Palestinian Prisoner Club said Wednesday that 226 prisoners died in the Israeli jails since 1967, indicating that hundreds of prisoners have died shortly after their release, as a result of diseases and injuries they inherited from the years of their detention. 

In a statement, it added that the 75 prisoners were killed as a result of premeditated murder, 7 after they were shot directly, and 71 as a result of the policy of medical negligence (slow killing).

Read More: Palestinian with disability died sustained to his injury by Israeli forces

The physical and psychological torture operations were the most prominent of the systematic policies that have led to the killing of 73 prisoners over the past decades, which have escalated again since the end of 2019.

During the past ten years, 29 prisoners died in the Israeli occupation prisons, and the policy of medical negligence (slow killing) was a central reason for their killing.

Read More: Palestinian female prisoners subjected to torture and abuse in Israeli jails

In the year 2020, four prisoners were died in the occupation prisons, and they are: Nour al-Din al-Barghouti, Saadi al-Gharabli, Daoud al-Khatib and Kamal Abu Waer.

The Israeli occupation continues to detain the bodies of eight martyrs, the oldest of whom is the captive Anis Dawla since 1980, in addition to Aziz Uweissat from Jerusalem who was martyred in 2018, Faris Baroud, Nasar Taqatqa, and Bassam al-Sayeh who were martyred in 2019, Saadi al-Gharabli, Daoud al-Khatib, and Kamal Abu Waer in 2020.

(Source / 07.01.2021)

The occupation forces detain two Palestinians and raid several houses in Hebron

Days of Palestine – Hebron – The Israeli occupation forces detained today, Thursday, two Palestinian citizens and searched several homes in Hebron governorate.

According to local sources, the occupation forces arrested the young man Nizar Abdul Qadir Jabareen, 20, from the town of Sa’ir, from his workplace in the 48 lands, and Khalil Jihad al-Amor, 22, from the Raqaa area in the town of Yatta, south of Hebron, searched his house, and tampered with its contents.

Read More: Israeli forces assault a Palestinian man and raid several houses in Nablus

The sources added that the occupation forces raided and searched several houses, Some of the owners are: Habis Khalil al-Mahariq and his brother Ziyad in the town of Yatta, and Muheib Abu al-Kabbash, and his brother Mujahid, and Jawad Issa Abu Tabikh in the town of al-Samu ‘, and Ibrahim Abdullah Masalmeh in Beit Awa.

(Source / 07.01.2021)

Israeli forces injure a Palestinian man and detain three in Bethlehem

Days of Palestine – Bethlehem – A Palestinian young man was injured by the Israeli occupation forces’ bullets , at dawn today, Thursday, while three others were detained, in the Dheisheh camp, south of Bethlehem.

Local sources reported that the occupation forces stormed the Dheisheh camp amid intense security reinforcements, which resulted in the wounding of a 19-year-old youth with live bullets in the foot. and the detention of Muhammad Yusef Al-Zaghari,27, Mutassim Mazen Raqban, 27, and Mu’taz Muhammad Sharia, 28, after their families’ homes were raided and searched.

Read More: Israeli settlers assault and injure a Palestinian man near Jericho

(Source / 07.01.2021)

Israeli settlers storm the courtyards of Al-Aqsa Mosque

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Days of Palestine – Jerusalem – Israeli settler groups on Thursday stormed the courtyards of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, under the protection of the Israeli occupation forces, despite the tight closure imposed by the occupation government.

According to local sources, groups of settlers stormed the courtyards of the Al-Aqsa Mosque this morning, from the Mughrabi Gate, with heavy security from the Israeli occupation police.

Read More: 108 settlers storm Al-Aqsa Mosque

The sources pointed out that settler groups carried out provocative tours in the courtyards of Al-Aqsa, before they left, despite the tight closure imposed by the Israeli occupation government on the pretext of limiting the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The settler incursions are part of periodic tours by settler flocks aiming to change the reality in the Holy City and Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Read More: 43 Israeli settlers storm Al-Aqsa

Two weeks ago, the Israeli occupation imposed comprehensive, strict closures on the occupied city of Jerusalem under the pretext of “coronavirus”, and prevented anyone from wandering beyond a kilometer from the vicinity of his home.

Hanadi Halawani, the Jerusalemite activist, has indicated that the arbitrary occupation measures against Al-Aqsa Mosque in exchange for the settlers’ incursion into Al-Aqsa, confirms that the real reason for all this strictness is to exclude worshipers of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

(Source / 07.01.2021)