ICC rules it has jurisdiction over West Bank and Gaza ‘abuses’

ICC rules it has jurisdiction over West Bank and Gaza 'abuses'
Palestinians have been calling for the ICC to investigate alleged abuses for years. Source: Reuters
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Daily US Times: The International Criminal Court (ICC) ruled on Friday that it has jurisdiction over war crimes and atrocities committed in the Palestinian territories.

The rule paves the way for the court to open a criminal investigation.

Fatou Bensouda, a prosecutor of the ICC, had previously called for investigations, saying there was “a reasonable basis to believe” war crimes had happened.

Palestinian officials praised it, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticised the ruling.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh was quoted by Palestinian news agency Wafa as saying: “This decision [of the ICC] is a victory for justice and humanity, for the values of truth, fairness and freedom, and for the blood of the victims and their families.”

Israel pledged to “protect all of our citizens and soldiers” from prosecution from what they called a “political body”. Israel is not a member of the ICC and rejects its jurisdiction,

Mr Netanyahu said: “The court in its decision impairs the right of democratic countries to defend themselves.”

The ICC ruling comes just over a year after Ms Bensouda said that a preliminary examination had gathered enough information to meet all criteria to open an investigation.

Naming both the Palestinian groups like Hamas and Israel Defence Forces as possible perpetrators, she asked the court to establish what areas any future inquiry would cover because of the contested legal and factual issues of the territories.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has been part of the global justice system since 2002. It 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 UN secretary general accepted the accession of the Palestinians in 2015.

The ICC said in their decision Friday that it had decided by majority that the court’s jurisdiction “extends to the territories occupied by Israel since 1967, namely Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem”.

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