World Bulletin, January 16, 2015
The International Criminal Court has launched an inquiry into possible war crimes in the Palestinian territories, opening a path to possible charges against Israelis or Palestinians.
World Bulletin/News Desk
The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court at The Hague, Fatou Bensouda, has announced she has opened a preliminary investigation into the “situation in Palestine” after the Palestinian government lodged claims of war crimes against Israel.
The ICC made the announcement on its website on Friday weeks after the Palestinian Authority requested the ICC to investigate war crimes it said were carried out by Israel during the Israeli Defense Force’s Operation Protective Edge launched in July, in which more than 2,200 Gazans were killed.
Bensouda’s decision came after the Palestinian government acceded to the Rome Statute on Jan. 2, and the court accepted its jurisdiction over alleged crimes committed in “occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, since June 13, 2014.”
The decision also comes a day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in a “miserable struggle” to cover up the crimes he committed during the Israeli air-and-land offensives on the Gaza Strip.
Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said in a statement released on Thursday: “The Israeli prime minister’s call for the condemnation of our president’s speech on Jan. 14 and attempting to cover up the crimes he committed in Gaza is a shameful and hypocritical situation for humanity.”
Erdogan had commented on the Israeli premier’s controversial presence at the anti-terrorism rally in France on Sunday by saying, during a joint press conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ankara on Monday: “I find it very difficult to understand how he dared to go there after killing 2,500 people in Gaza through state terrorism.”
Netanyahu responded on his Twitter account on Wednesday, saying: “I’ve yet to hear any world leader condemn the comments by @RT_Erdogan who said Israel should not have been represented in the march in Paris.”
Kalin said the Israeli offensive of July-August 2014 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip left 2,205 Palestinians dead, of whom 1,483 were civilians, and over 11,000 others wounded.
“The attacks also left 110,000 Palestinians homeless as 20,000 houses were demolished. Fourteen journalists were also killed during the offensives. Israel also bombed UN offices, schools and hospitals,” he said.
Kalin also described Netanyahu’s attempt to use last week’s attack on the Paris headquarters of Charlie Hebdo in which 12 people died, and Sunday’s unity march in France for his own political ends as “a deplorable act that must be condemned by all.”
‘ICC part of problem’: Israel’s Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday denounced a decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open an inquiry into possible war crimes committed against Palestinians by the self-proclaimed Jewish state.
“Unfortunately, [this inquiry] proves [the ICC] is part of the problem and not part of the solution,” Netanyahu said in a statement.
The ICC’s decision came, Netanyahu said, “because we defend our citizens from Hamas, a terrorist organization allied with the Palestinian Authority.”
“Hamas war criminals fired thousands of rockets at Israeli citizens,” he said.
Earlier Friday, ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced that she had opened a preliminary investigation into the “situation in Palestine” after the Palestinian government formally accused Israel of war crimes.
“It is absolutely scandalous that, just days after terrorists butchered Jews in France, the general prosecutor is beginning an inquiry against the state of the Jews,” Netanyahu said in reference to Israel.
Israeli FM slams ICC
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Friday lashed out at a decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open an inquiry into possible war crimes against Palestinians committed by the self-proclaimed Jewish state.
“The sole purpose of the [ICC] decision is to harm Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorism,” Lieberman said in a statement.
The decision, he added, “stems entirely from anti-Israel political considerations.”
ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on Friday announced that she had opened a preliminary investigation into the “situation in Palestine” after the Palestinian government formally accused Israel of committing war crimes.
“This same court, which after more than 200,000 deaths didn’t see fit to intervene in what was taking place in Syria or in Libya or in other places, now finds it worthwhile to examine the most moral army in the world,” Lieberman said.
More than 2,160 Palestinians were killed – and some 11,000 others injured – during 51 days of relentless Israeli bombardment of the blockaded coastal enclave last July and August.
Israel claims its offensive was intended to halt rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, which continues to groan under an eight-year-old Israeli blockade.
The offensive ended on August 26 with a ceasefire signed in Cairo between Israel and Palestinian resistance factions.
The ICC has been criticised for focusing on atrocities in Africa and being unable to successfully prosecute cases linked to the world’s most intractable conflicts.
The ICC, the world’s first permanent war crimes tribunal, is the court of last resort for its 122 member states, aiming to hold the powerful accountable for the most heinous crimes when national authorities are unable or unwilling to act.
But the ICC has struggled over its first decade, completing just three cases and securing two convictions. Critics say it has been vulnerable to political pressure and opposition from non-members the United States, China and Russia.
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