Palestine: ICC prosecutor warns of ‘war crimes’


Individuals involved in the new outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian fighting may be targeted by an International Criminal Court investigation now underway into possible war crimes in earlier eruptions of the conflict, top prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in an interview with Reuters May 13. Bensouda said she would press ahead with her inquiry even without the cooperation of Israel, which rejects¬†the ICC’s jurisdiction. “These are events that we are looking at very seriously,”¬†Bensouda told Reuters. “We are monitoring very closely and I remind that an investigation has opened…” She also warned in a tweet of the “possible commission of crimes under the Rome Statue.”

The ICC in March announced a formal investigation into possible war crimes in the Palestinian territories. The investigation names¬†both the Israeli Defense Force and Hamas as possible culprits. Israel has dismissed the investigation, calling it “undiluted anti-Semitism and the height of hypocrisy.”¬†The investigation was also opposed by the US government, with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken stating that “the ICC has no jurisdiction over this matter. Israel is not a party to the ICC and has not consented to the Court’s jurisdiction.” (Jurist)

Since the investigation was announced, more than 200 prominent Israelis have signed a letter to the ICC, requesting that the Court engage with human rights groups for the investigation instead of the Israeli government. The letter states:

Sadly, despite Israel‚Äôs image as a state that maintains a proper and professional legal system, the reality paints a different picture‚Äďharsh, discriminatory, and outrageous. The law imposed on the Occupied Territories and the manner in which it is applied by the Israeli enforcement and security agencies effectively allow ongoing acts of moral injustice and prima facie war crimes.

The letter has been signed by 10 Israel Prize recipients and 35 professors, in addition to senior reserve army officers, authors, activists and intellectuals. (Haaretz)

Health authorities in Gaza now report 126 deaths since the fighting began May 10, including 31 children and 20 women. In Israel, a total of eight people, including a soldier and a 6-year-old, have been killed. (Haaretz, ABC)

Photo: Maan News

  1. Death toll continues to mount in Gaza, as West Bank erupts

    Israeli air-strikes hit the Shati refugee camp outside Gaza City May 15, killing 10 family members who were gathered in a home for Ramadan celebrations. The dead included two women and six children. An infant was the lone survivor in the raid.

    Later that day, a Gaza City¬†building housing offices for media outlets including¬†Al Jazeera and the Associated Press¬†was hit by an Israeli air-strike on Saturday afternoon, contained offices for Al Jazeera and the Associated Press, among other media outlets. Israel issued a warning an hour before the strike, so the building had been evacuated, but much equipment was launched. The NY-based Committee to Protect Journalists is demanding a full accounting of why the building was targeted. The IDF said only that it housed “Hamas military intelligence assets.”

    Violence has spread to the West Bank, where angry protests are breaking out. In Ramallah, Nablus and other towns, hundreds of Palestinians erected barricades of flaming tires and hurled stones at Israeli soldiers. At least 10 protesters have been shot and killed. An 11th Palestinian was reportedly killed when he tried to stab a soldier at a checkpoint.

    According to the respective authorities, the total death toll now stands at 130 on the Palestinian side and 10 on the Israeli side.

    (Al Jazeera, AP, CNN, Politico, WaPo)

  2. Rights group accuses Israel of ‘war crimes’ in Gaza

    An Israeli human rights group accused Israel of committing “war crimes”¬†in the Gaza Strip on May 15 and demanded that the international community intervene. “The international community must step in immediately and use its leverage to force Israel to change its policy, before it claims even more victims,” B’Tselem said in a¬†statement.

    It said that since 2014, Israel “has not wreaked this level of destruction on the blockaded Gaza Strip.” The damage to infrastructure compounds a humanitarian crisis caused by a 14-year Israeli blockade imposed on the 2 million residents in Gaza.

    The Israeli military has now killed 145 Palestinians, including 41 children and 23 women, and caused injuries to 1,100 more, in air-raids on Gaza. Seventeen Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank by Israeli forces and settlers as Palestinians stage ongoing protests. (Anadolu Agency)

  3. US blocks Security Council resolution on Gaza

    For the third time over the past week, the US blocked a UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. Israel protested that the resolutions do not specifically mention Hamas’ rocket attacks. The most recent resolution “expresses grave concern regarding the crisis related to Gaza and the loss of civilian lives and casualties, and calls for de-escalation of the situation, cessation of violence and respect for international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians, especially children.”

    It also states that council members “emphasize that civilian and humanitarian facilities, including those of the UN, must be respected and protected, call on all parties to act consistently with this principle and stress the need for immediate provision of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza.”¬†(Al Jazeera,¬†Hamas)