Human Rights Watch(HRW) said that the International Criminal Court (ICC) judges’ decision confirming the court’s jurisdiction to open a criminal investigation into ‘Israel’ for war crimes in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem opens a long-awaited path to justice for Israeli and Palestinian victims of serious international crimes.
“This pivotal ruling opens the door for an investigation that may lead to those most responsible for serious crimes one day answering for their actions at a fair trial,” said Balkees Jarrah, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch.
She added, “It’s high time that Israeli and Palestinian perpetrators of the gravest abuses – whether war crimes committed during hostilities or the expansion of unlawful settlements – face justice.”
“The ICC has a critical role to play as a court of last resort in situations like Palestine where recourse to domestic justice has been foreclosed.”
“The court’s member countries should stand ready to fiercely protect the ICC’s independence in the face of ongoing pressure and hostility to an investigation of Israeli and Palestinian conduct.”
Since 2016, Human Rights Watch has called on the ICC prosecution to pursue a formal Palestine investigation given strong evidence that serious crimes have been committed there.
“The grave nature of many of the violations and the pervasive climate of impunity for those crimes make an ICC investigation necessary,” Human Rights Watch said.
On Friday, the International Criminal Court said that its jurisdiction extends to territories occupied by ‘Israel’ in the 1967 war, clearing the way for its chief prosecutor to open a war crimes probe into Israeli war crimes.
“The Court’s territorial jurisdiction in the Situation in Palestine … extends to the territories occupied by Israel since 1967, namely Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem,” the judges said.
The ICC’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, said in 2019 that there was a reasonable basis to open a war crimes probe into Israeli war crimes against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip as well as Israeli settlement activity in the occupied West Bank.
However, she asked the court to determine whether she has territorial jurisdiction before proceeding with the case.
Palestine has asked the court to look into Israeli war crimes during its 2014 war against the Gaza Strip, when the Israelis killed 2147 Palestinians including women and children, and wounded 10870 others, as well as Israel’s construction of settlements in the occupied West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem. Israeli settlements are illegal under international law.
Int’l Criminal Court
Int’l Criminal Court@IntlCrimCourtInternational Criminal Court (ICC): fighting impunity for war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and aggression
(Source / 07.02.2021)