The ICC intends to investigate 2014 Israeli offensive on Gaza, which saw the killing of more than 2,260 Palestinians, including around 500 children and 500 women and injuring more than 11,000 others
The international criminal court has announced that it has jurisdiction in Palestine, clearing its chief prosecutor to investigate alleged atrocities despite fierce Israeli objections.
Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, condemned the ruling and said the country would “protect our citizens and soldiers in every way from legal persecution.”
Fatou Bensouda, the ICC chief prosecutor, has previously announced she intends to open a formal inquiry into alleged war crimes in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
However, due to Palestine’s status as an occupied territory rather than a sovereign country, she had waited for judges to “confirm” if the court, headquartered in The Hague, had the authority.
Palestine used its UN observer state status, gained in 2012, to join the ICC and call for an investigation into Israeli actions.
Bensouda, a Gambian lawyer, has said she would investigate both the Israeli military as well as Palestinian armed groups, including the Gaza-based Hamas faction, which has been accused of “intentionally directing attacks against civilians,” according to her office.
The Israeli government has argued that as Palestine is not a fully fledged state, it should not be allowed to petition the court.
Netanyahu has previously called for sanctions against the court and people who work for it. Donald Trump’s administration used a similar tactic to block a separate abandoned ICC investigation into the conduct of US troops in Afghanistan.
While Joe Biden’s administration says it disagrees with ICC action against Israel, it says it is reviewing those sanctions, a move that worries Israel.
However, US state department spokesman Ned Price said Washington had “serious concerns” over Friday’s ICC ruling.
Bensouda has said she intends to investigate the 2014 Israeli offensive on Gaza, which saw the killing of more than 2,260 Palestinians, including around 500 children and 500 women and injuring more than 11,000 others.
The case could also be expanded to include the alleged killings by Israeli soldiers of more than 200 Palestinians, including more than 40 children, at demonstrations along the Gaza frontier.
Separately, Bensouda argued there was a “reasonable basis” to believe that Israeli authorities had committed war crimes by moving Israeli civilians into the West Bank to live in settlements.
Under the Geneva convention, signed after the second world war, the transfer of civilians into occupied land is prohibited.
(Source / 06.02.2021)