The International Court at The Hague
The International Court at The Hague Israel National News photo: file

A Palestinian Authority-based organization appealed to the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague Wednesday in an effort to have Israeli military and civilian leaders charged with war crimes.

The Palestinian Center for Communications and Research petition refers to Israeli responsibility for the deaths of hundreds of "innocent Palestinians" during the IDF's counter-terrorism offensive currently underway in Gaza. The PA organization demanded an investigation of what it called the "intentional killing" of 215 children and 89 women, out of a total of 700 Gaza residents killed, along with the injury of thousands of civilians. The organization additionally demanded an international court order against all Israelis responsible for "the attacks in Gaza."

Hamas Violates Rights of Jews and Arabs

The Israeli government has not officially responded to the filing. However, also on Wednesday, the IDF Military Advocate General's Office issued a release in which the army explicitly refers to the international crimes committed by the jihadist Hamas regime in Gaza.

"While Hamas and other terrorist groups continue to make efforts to carry out acts of terrorism within Israel by a variety of means, including suicide bombings," the IDF statement said, "in the last few years, Hamas' primary means of attacking Israel from the Gaza Strip has been characterized by the firing of rockets and mortars against neighboring Israeli population centers. Indeed, since Hamas assumed control of the Gaza Strip in mid-2007, there have been more than 5,000 rockets fired into Israel from within Gaza by Hamas and other terrorist organizations, placing a quarter of a million Israeli civilians under incessant terrorist attacks."

The "deliberate and systematic rocket attacks directed at civilians and civilian objects," the IDF Advocate General explained, constitute "violations of international law." Yet Hamas is also responsible for violations of "fundamental obligations under international law with respect to the protection of the civilian population under its control," the statement continued.

Hamas, the IDF Advocate General said, displays a "callous disregard for the safety of Palestinian civilians living in the Gaza Strip: by launching attacks from within the confines of densely populated areas, by storing missiles and rocket launchers under mosques and homes, by using university facilities and other protected places to develop weapons and explosives, Hamas systematically abuses the protections afforded to civilians and civilian objects under international law, while placing the safety and welfare of these civilians at great risk."

Not the First Filing

The PA petition to the ICC is not the first of its kind in recent months. On December 10, 2008, a Lebanese organization called International Coalition against Impunity filed a complaint with the ICC charging Israel and five of its leaders with "egregious violations of International law and the Rome Statute stemming from Israel's actions its continuing blockade of Gaza."

Thus far, neither complaint has led to formal charges against Israeli individuals, but the process has just been initiated by the complainants.