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ICC prosecutor says Israel committing war crimes, opens investigation

By ICH & Agencies

December 21, 2019 "Information Clearing House" - "In brief, I am satisfied that war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip," Fatou Bensouda wrote in her statement.

 

"Given the unique and highly contested legal and factual issues attaching to this situation," she has requested the ICC to confirm "that the 'territory' over which the Court may exercise its jurisdiction, and which I may subject to investigation, comprises the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza."

"Based on the available information, there is a reason to believe that war crimes were committed in the context of the 2014 hostilities in Gaza," referring to Operation Protective Edge, which was launched after regional tensions came to a head following the murder of three Israeli teens and a Palestinian youth, as well as ceaseless rocket fire from the Strip.

Bensouda wrote that "the Israel Defense Forces intentionally launched disproportionate attacks in relation to at least three incidents which the ICC has focused, as well as intentionally directing an attack against objects or persons using the distinctive emblems of the Geneva Conventions."

In addition, the opinion said, "there is a reasonable basis to believe that in the context of Israelís occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, members of the Israeli authorities have committed war crimes in relation, inter alia, to the transfer of Israeli civilians into the West Bank since June 13, 2014.

Bensoura wrote that "Despite the clear and enduring calls that Israel cease activities in the Palestinian Territories deemed contrary to international law, there is no indication that they will end. To the contrary, there are indications that they may not only continue, but that Israel may seek to annex these territories."

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She then cited Netanyahu's campaign promise in August and September 2019 to annex the Jordan Valley if he wins the election.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded in a statement, saying the prosecutor's decision "Has turned the International Criminal Court into a political tool to delegitimize the State of Israel. The prosecutor has completely ignored the legal arguments we presented to her."

Chief Palestinian negotiator, "The step is a confirmation that the ICC has jurisdiction [over the Palestinian territories] and that it is in its final steps before opening a criminal investigation [against Israel]. This represents a message of hope to our people, the victims of those crimes, that justice is indeed possible," Erekat said.

Erekat added that "Israelís hysterical reaction is that of a state that has put itself above international law, with a system of laws aimed at normalizing the situation of perpetual occupation, colonial-settlements and annexation, all of them inconsistent with international law."

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