Palestinian organisations hope for start of ICC investigation into Israel’s crimes

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Middle East Monitor  /  March 9, 2021

Palestinian human rights organisations on Sunday expressed their hope that the investigations of the International Criminal Court (ICC) into possible Israeli war crimes in the Palestinian territories would begin before the end of this month.

This came during a press conference held by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, and Al-Haqq Foundation (NGOs) in Gaza.

Raji Sourani, director of the Gaza-based PCHR, said: “We hope to initiate our legal engagement with the International Criminal Court before the end of this month.”

According to legal experts, the term “legal engagement” refers to “the court’s initiation of an investigation, including examining the admissibility of lawsuits and gathering information about it.”

Sourani added that “a number of human rights organisations formed a coalition to document war crimes consciously committed by Israel during the aggression on Gaza in 2014, in order to hold the occupation accountable for its crimes before the International Criminal Court.”

He explained that the court’s decision to open the investigation came after “it was subjected to great pressures from the United States and Israel.”

Issam Younis, director of the Gaza-based Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, said that “the court decision to open an investigation is an important matter, which the Palestinians have waited for a long time; we consider the court as our last resort.”

“The victims cannot be left to suffer without holding the perpetrators accountable,” Younis added.

Shawan Jabareen, president of Al-Haqq Foundation (headquartered in Ramallah), stated during his participation via Zoom: “there are concerns over possible attempts to halt the investigation by the UN Security Council due to international pressures.”

Jabareen called on the Palestinian leadership (PA) “not to succumb to blackmail and pressures,” urging it to separate “political endeavour and legal actions.”

On 3 March, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced the initiation of an official investigation into possible war crimes in the Palestinian territories.

The decision was welcomed by the PA, despite Israel’s strong condemnation, and the United States’ rejection of this step.