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Palestine: ICC prosecutor warns of 'war crimes'

Maan News Agency

Individuals involved in the new outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian fighting may be targeted by an International Criminal Court investigation now underway into possible war crimes in earlier eruptions of the conflict, top prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in an interview with ReutersMay 13. Bensouda said she would press ahead with her inquiry even without the cooperation of Israel, which rejects the ICC's jurisdiction. "These are events that we are looking at very seriously," Bensouda told Reuters. "We are monitoring very closely and I remind that an investigation has opened..." She also warned in a tweet of the "possible commission of crimes under the Rome Statue."

The ICC in March announced a formal investigation into possible war crimes in the Palestinian territories. The investigation names both the Israeli Defense Force and Hamas as possible culprits. Israel has dismissed the investigation, calling it "undiluted anti-Semitism and the height of hypocrisy." The investigation was also opposed by the US government, with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken stating that "the ICC has no jurisdiction over this matter. Israel is not a party to the ICC and has not consented to the Court's jurisdiction." (Jurist)

Since the investigation was announced, more than 200 prominent Israelis have signed a letter to the ICC, requesting that the Court engage with human rights groups for the investigation instead of the Israeli government. The letter states:

Sadly, despite Israel’s image as a state that maintains a proper and professional legal system, the reality paints a different picture–harsh, discriminatory, and outrageous. The law imposed on the Occupied Territories and the manner in which it is applied by the Israeli enforcement and security agencies effectively allow ongoing acts of moral injustice and prima facie war crimes.

The letter has been signed by 10 Israel Prize recipients and 35 professors, in addition to senior reserve army officers, authors, activists and intellectuals. (Haaretz)

Health authorities in Gaza now report 126 deaths since the fighting began May 10, including 31 children and 20 women. In Israel, a total of eight people, including a soldier and a 6-year-old, have been killed. (HaaretzABC)