A Palestinian girl stands near residential buildings that witnesses said were heavily damaged by Israeli shelling during a 50-day war last summer, in Beit Lahiya town in the northern Gaza Strip May 25, 2015. (Reuters/Suhaib Salem)
– ‘ICC credibility test’: Palestinians submit first war crimes evidence against Israel (RT, June 26, 2015):
The Palestinian Authority has submitted the first evidence of alleged Israeli war crimes committed during the Gaza conflict in 2014 to the International Criminal Court, seeking to accelerate the investigation of these abuses.
After meeting the ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said that he had submitted the dossiers concerning the 2014 Gaza war, as well as Israeli settlements on the occupied Palestinian land and treatment of Palestinian prisoners in Israel.
“Palestine is a test for the credibility of international mechanisms … a test the world cannot afford to fail. Palestine has decided to seek justice, not vengeance,” Maliki said.
He also added that he had agreed with prosecutors on a date of their visit to Palestine, although he did not reveal the exact time. “It depends on their ability to enter Palestinian territory without problems,” he added.
ICC prosecutors intend to make a field visits both to Palestine and Israel, but they have not received a formal permission from Israel yet, Reuters reports.
In the interview to RT, former special rapporteur to the UN Human Rights Council concerning Palestinian affairs said that International Criminal Court “faces a real credibility test”, as “if chief prosecutor fails to open any investigation into crimes committed in Palestine, there is a real danger that the ICC will fall apart…”
Israel denied all allegations of war crimes against its soldiers as well as disputed the UN report on alleged war crimes by claiming that its soldiers had upheld the “highest international standards.” It also accused Palestinian militants of firing thousands of rockets at Israeli population centers.
John Dugard said that Israel had just white-washed all involvement of its forces in any abuses during the 2014 Gaza war as it is clearly determined not to prosecute its soldiers for the crimes committed during this conflict.
An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman said that submission of evidence to the ICC by Palestinians is “nothing more than an attempt to manipulate the ICC and we hope that the prosecutor will not fall into the trap.”
Israel is not a member of the ICC and is therefore not obliged to abide by the ICC’s decision or even give it any information related to the inquiry. However, John Dugard believes, ICC has “clearly [gathered] sufficient evidence … to open an investigation into war crimes committed in Palestine.”
Israel openly criticizes ICC by saying that the Palestinian Authority is not a state and that it should not have been admitted to the ICC membership.
Israel also argues that the ICC investigation will hold up and complicate the Israeli-Palestinian peace process with the negotiations on a Palestinian state collapsed in 2014 and still not renewed so far.
Palestinian Hamas military group also ignored the accusations and called for commencement of proceedings against Israeli leaders.
The Palestinian Authority joined the ICC in April 2015 and after that ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has launched a preliminary inquiry into excesses committed during the last-year Gaza war.
On Monday, UN investigators said that both Israeli and Palestinian forces committed serious abuses of international humanitarian law during this conflict that might be treated as war crimes.
The active phase of the conflict lasted for 50 days and claimed the lives of 2,100 Palestinians, most of whom were civilians, as well as of 67 Israeli soldiers and 6 civilians.