As ICC launches Israel War Crimes Probe, PLO & Hamas Applaud

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Saturday said it welcomed the decision to open an initial probe on Israeli war crimes at the International Criminal Court.

The ministry said in a statement that the ICC decision was a positive and important step towards achieving justice and guaranteeing respect of international law.

Palestine will fully cooperate with the ICC and facilitate its mission until justice is achieved, the statement said.

“The State of Palestine has signed the Rome Statue to guarantee an end to war crimes and crimes against humanity, which Israel, the occupying authority, has committed and is still committing against our people,” it added.

The Hamas movement also applauded the decision, saying it was ready to present thousands of documents to the ICC that prove Israeli war crimes have taken place.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a statement that the war crimes probe was an important, long-awaited step.

“This step will be a spark of hope that Palestinians will be able to see the Israeli leadership prosecuted and held accountable for their crimes,” Barhoum said.

On Friday, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda opened an initial probe to see if war crimes have been committed against Palestinians, including during Israel’s military assault on Gaza last summer.

via Ma’an News Agency

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Related video added by Juan Cole:

Euronews: “ICC opens inquiry into Israeli-Palestinian conflict”

5 Responses

  1. There are three criteria to commencing a formal ICC investigation:

    (1)jurisdiction;

    (2)admissibility;

    (3)interests of justice.

    There was a preliminary investigation commenced on January 22, 2009, four days after Operation Cast Lead ended, in which the ICC declined opening a full investigation due to Palestine’s lack of status as a “state” at that juncture – however the ICC Prosecutor has already indicated that the “observer state” status accorded Palestine by the UN General Assembly on November 29, 2012 satisfies the jurisdictional requirement of the ICC to formally investigate and issue charges.

    The United States sent a delegation that was led by David Scheffer in the formulation of the Rome Statute. Scheffer has publicly stated that he believes the rights of the accused under the Rome Statute comport with the due process guarantees afforded criminal defendants under the U.S. Constitution.

    The U.S. was a signator, but did not ratify, the Rome Treaty.

    It is interesting that both Israel and the U.S. only contest the jurisdictional element and ignore both the “admissibility’ and all-important “interests of justice” requirement to commence a formal investigation.

    • Firing unguided rockets toward civilian populations is a war crime. Identifying the precise individual responsible for any particular strike that caused damage or killed someone (a handful of victims) might be a challenge. The court can only try individuals, not governments or parties. The number of articles in the Rome Statute being violated by the Israeli leadership is rather longer than that violated by Hamas.

  2. Israel’s two most prominent Jewish human rights organizations, B’tselem and Yesh Din, issued a joint statement in September of 2014 that – while falling short of expressly calling for ICC prosecution of Israeli officials – did state that the Israeli government did not have any credible legal mechanism in place to address war crimes committed by the Israel Defense Forces. The significance of such a declaration is that such a finding is one of the necessary predicates for admissibility of a case to the International Criminal Court – and may be the toughest remaining legal hurdle to actually prosecuting Israeli political and military leaders in that international penal tribunal.

    Avigdor Lieberman has called for an investigation of B’tselem.

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