ICC opens ‘war crimes’ investigation in West Bank and Gaza

ICC opens 'war crimes' investigation in West Bank and Gaza
The ICC ruled last month that it could exercise its criminal jurisdiction over the Palestinian territories. Source: ANADOLU AGENCY
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Daily US Times: The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has opened a formal investigation into alleged war crimes in the Palestinian territories.

Fatou Bensouda said the probe would cover events in the Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem, Gaza Strip and West Bank since June 2014.

The Hague-based court ruled last months that it could exercise its criminal jurisdiction over the territories.

Palestinian officials praised it while Israel rejected Ms Bensouda’s decision.

The United States expressed disappointment and opposition to the move.

The ICC has the authority to prosecute those accused of crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes on the territory of states party to the Rome Statute, its founding treaty.

Israel has never ratified the Rome Statute, but the court ruled that the country had jurisdiction because the UN secretary general accepted the Palestinians’ accession to the treaty in 2015.

Israel occupied Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war. Palestinians claim the territories for a future independent country.

Ms Bensouda explained in a statement issued on Wednesday that her office was obliged to act “where a state party has referred a situation” to it and “it is determined that a reasonable basis exists to commence an investigation”.

The ICC prosecutor said she had carried out a “painstaking preliminary examination” that lasted close to five years and promised that the investigation would be conducted independently, impartially and objectively, without fear or favour.

She said: “We have no agenda other than to meet our statutory duties under the Rome Statute with professional integrity.”She also noted that she had declined to investigate the 2010 killing by Israeli troops of 10 Turkish activists on the Gaza-bound ship Mavi Marmara.

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