Arabs call on ICC to investigate Israel

Palestinian Arab lawyers and civil society groups urge International Criminal Court to speed up its investigation into Israeli "war crimes".

Arutz Sheva Staff,

International Criminal Court
International Criminal Court

Palestinian Arab lawyers and civil society groups on Wednesday urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) to speed up inquiries and open a full investigation into Israel's alleged “war crimes” in Gaza, eastern Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria.

"Since two years Palestine is under preliminary examination," said lawyer Gilles Devers, according to AFP.

"in Gaza, we think two years is too long," he added.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) officially joined the ICC on April 1, 2015, and immediately filed a series of legal complaints with the court. In addition to claiming that Israel committed war crimes during the 2014 Gaza war, it also claimed that Israeli “settlements” are “an ongoing war crime”.

In January 2015, the tribunal opened a preliminary examination into alleged abuses by all sides in the conflict, and an ICC delegation visited the region in late 2016.

Palestinian Arab activists told reporters Wednesday the investigation has stalled, calling for both the ICC and the PA to speed up efforts.

Lawyers representing 448 named victims, and more than 50 Palestinian trade unions and organizations, were handing over a thick dossier to the ICC prosecutor's office which they said showed "clearly that crimes within the jurisdiction of the court have been committed."

The Gaza conflict was clearly "a war crime" and the "ICC was competent" to handle it, said Devers, speaking in English.

Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda had "an obligation" to move beyond a preliminary examination to a full investigation, he told reporters before meeting with representatives from her office.

The dossier has been drafted by more than 30 lawyers in the Palestinian territories, and it is the first time that Palestinian civil groups, including doctors, farmers, fishermen and teachers, have appealed directly to the ICC.

The group said it has taken the action because of "the lack of political will on behalf of the Palestinian Authority" which it said had not made an official complaint as a state member of the ICC.

Devers said the group was also hoping to persuade the ICC to open a full investigation "as a matter of urgency" into the situation in eastern Jerusalem.

While the PA has complained to the ICC against Israel, it itself is not immune from lawsuits at the ICC. In fact, Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center has already launched lawsuits against PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leaders at the ICC.

AFP contributed to this report.