Palestinians submit Israel 'war crime' evidence to ICC

Palestinians submit Israel 'war crime' evidence to ICC
From Al Jazeera - September 20, 2017

Four Palestinian human rights groups have submitted a 700-page communication to the International Criminal Court (ICC), alleging that high-level Israeli officials have been complicit in committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

In a statementon Wednesday, the groups urged the ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to "urgently open a full investigation into the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory" as a "necessary step to ending the culture of impunity that has long prevailed in regard to Israeli crimes and to hold high-level political and military officials accountable".

The groups that submitted the dossier are al-Haq, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights and Aldameer Association for Human Rights - all based in the occupied territories.

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"This communication, which is based on factual information collected by the four organisations, covers the following crimes against humanity in accordance with the Rome Statute: murder, deportation or transfer of population, persecution, apartheid," an al-Haq representative told Al Jazeera.

The representative also said the files included evidence of war crimes such as "willful killing, extensive destruction and appropriation of property, unlawful deportation or transfer, transfer by the occupying power of its civilian population into occupied territory, pillaging of a town/place, destroying or seizing the enemy's property".

The ICC, an independent international court based in The Hague, Netherlands, confirmed to Al Jazeera that they had received the dossier.

"As we do with all such communications, we will analyse the materials submitted, as appropriate, in accordance with the Rome Statute and with full independence and impartiality. As soon as we reach a decision on the appropriate next step, we will inform the sender and provide reasons for our decision," the Office of the Prosecutor told Al Jazeera via email.

While Israel is not a party to the Rome Statute - the treaty of the ICC to which all members are bound to - its nationals could be tried by The Hague-based court for crimes committed on Palestinian territory.

The Israeli Prime Minister's Office did not respond to Al Jazeera's request for comment.

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The four Palestinian groups have jointly submitted three other communications - mainly related to war crimes in the Gaza Strip - to the ICC since the State ofPalestineformally joined the court inApril 2015, giving the court jurisdiction over crimes committed in the territorysince June 13, 2014.

The 2014 Israeli war on Gaza is the first major offensive against Palestinians over which the ICC has potential jurisdiction.During the 51-day war, more than 2,200 Palestinians were killed, including 1,462 civilians, 500 of whom were children.

The ICC's Office of the Prosecutor began itspreliminary examinationof the "situation in Palestine" in January 2015. In this phase, the prosecutor is meant to determine whether the criteria have been met to warrant pursuing a formal investigation based on the information available publicly or submitted to the office, and whether local courts are carrying out credible investigations.


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