The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, said on Wednesday, March 3, that she has launched a formal inquiry into alleged war crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories (OPT), a move strongly opposed by Israel. In her statement, Bensouda said that the inquiry will be conducted “independently, impartially and objectively, without fear or favour.” She also indicated that alleged crimes by both Israel and Palestinians will be investigated in the inquiry.
“Today, I confirm the initiation by the office of the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court of an investigation respecting the situation in Palestine,” Bensouda said, adding it will specifically look at allegations from June 13, 2014 and later. “In the end, our central concern must be for the victims of crimes, both Palestinian and Israeli, arising from the long cycle of violence and insecurity that has caused deep suffering and despair on all sides. My office will take the same principled, non-partisan, approach that it has adopted in all situations over which its jurisdiction applies.”
Hadash welcomed the ICC decision to open a formal investigation into war crimes in the Palestinian Territories. “This is a long-awaited step that serves Palestine’s tireless pursuit of justice and accountability, which are indispensable pillars of the peace the Palestinian people seek and deserve,” said Hadash MK Ofer Cassif (Joint List). According to Hadash MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Joint List), the decision by the ICC is “a step in the right direction. It is clear why Israel’s far-right government is worried – it knows that the occupation is nothing but a war crime.”
Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel – also welcomed the announcement on the opening of the ICC investigation. The NGO said in a statement that this decision “confirms what Adalah has maintained for years: there is serious and grave suspicion that Israel is committing war crimes against the Palestinian people.” “Israel’s continued shielding of those responsible for these crimes, and its refusal to conduct genuine, effective, and independent investigations into the cases Adalah has brought before the Israeli legal system, have culminated in this pivotal moment,” the statement concluded.
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- Chief ICC Prosecutor Asserts Power to Investigate War Crimes in OPT