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Palestine rights groups file ICC suit against Israel

Three Palestinian human rights groups, Al HaqAl Mezan Center for Human Rights, and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, filed a lawsuit Nov. 10 with the International Criminal Court (ICC) asking for an investigation into alleged crimes by Israel. The submission, which was made under Article 15 of the Rome Statute, accuses Israel of war crimes, genocide and incitement to genocide, in the context of the bombardment of the Gaza Strip. This submission follows mounting allegations of Israeli war crimes by international human rights groups, including the use of toxic white phosphorous on civilians and attacks on medical services.

The suit asks the Office of the Prosecutor to include crimes against humanity, including apartheid and genocide, in its ongoing investigation of the Palestinian territories. It is also asking that arrest warrants be issued for those responsible, including Israeli political and military figures such as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Isaac Herzog and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. The filing delineates the impacts of the bombing campaign on civilian populations, citing forced displacement and denial of access to necessities, such as food, water, humanitarian aid, and electricity.

Emmanuel Daoud, the attorney who initiated the action, also filed a suit with the ICC against Russian leaders for war crimes against Ukrainians. Upon the new filing, he said: "There is no place for double standards in International Justice... Whether war crimes are committed in Ukraine or Palestine, the culprits should be held to account."

In response, a spokesperson for Israel's foreign ministry said: "Israel is also collecting evidence for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by Hamas during the Oct. 7 attack [on Israel] and afterwards, including the use of civilians as human shields [in Gaza]." Families of victims of the Oct. 7 attacks filed their own ICC complaint last week, accusing Hamas of war crimes and genocide. Attorney François Zimeray said: "Hamas terrorists do not deny the crimes committed, which they have amply documented and broadcast… [F]acts cannot therefore be disputed."

From Jurist, Nov. 12. Used with permission.

Note: The groups that brought the suit welcomed the visit of ICC prosecutor, Karim AA Khan, KC, to the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt on Oct. 29. (Al-Haq) Israel continues to reject the authority of the International Criminal Court to investigate possible violations of international law in the occupied Palestinian territories.