Hadash welcomed the announcement by the Chief Prosecutor of the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, on Friday December 20, that her office is going to proceed with an investigation into the situation in Palestine in relation to Israeli crimes against the occupied Palestinian people.
“Today, I announce that following a thorough, independent and objective assessment of all reliable information available to my Office, the preliminary examination into the Situation in Palestine has concluded with the determination that all the statutory criteria under the Rome Statute for the opening of an investigation have been met,” said Bensouda in a statement.
“I am satisfied that there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation into the situation in Palestine, pursuant to article 53(1) of the Statute. In brief, I am satisfied that (i) war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip; (ii) potential cases arising from the situation would be admissible; and (iii) there are no substantial reasons to believe that an investigation would not serve the interests of justice.”
The ICC Prosecutor added: “As there has been a referral from the State of Palestine, there is no requirement to seek Pre-Trial Chamber’s authorization before proceeding to open an investigation, and I do not seek to do so.” “However, given the unique and highly contested legal and factual issues attaching to this situation, namely, the territory within which the investigation may be conducted, I deemed it necessary to rely on article 19(3) of the Statute to resolve this specific issue.” According to Hadash MK Youssef Jabareen (Joint List), “Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda made the right decision given the facts when she announced that Israel has been and is continuing to commit war crimes in the West Bank – including occupied East Jerusalem – and in the Gaza Strip and that there is no reason that a criminal investigation would not serve the interests of justice and peace.”
Bensouda made her dramatic statement after conducting a thorough preliminary examination into the situation in Palestine over the past five years. She also asked Palestinian victims and human rights organizations to cooperate with the investigation.
The announcement by the ICC on opening an investigation into Israeli war crimes against the Palestinian people and reaction to it occupied most of the front-page of all Israeli newspapers on Sunday and the three Palestinian Arabic dailies Saturday. Al-Hayat al-Jadida, in a three-word Arabic headline in red that went across the top of the front page quoted President Mahmoud Abbas describing the ICC decision as “a historic day for Palestine.” It continued with the rest of the president’s remarks on this decision. Al-Quds and Al-Ayyam wrote in their main front-page headline that the ICC aims to investigate Israeli war crimes in the occupied territories, with Al-Ayyam adding that Israel’s reaction was hysterical.