The prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in The Hague will investigate war crimes in the Palestinian territories. That investigation will be “independent, impartial and objective, without fear and without favouring one of the parties,” said Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.
It focuses on crimes from 2014 onwards, the year in which there was a bloody conflict in the Gaza Strip with Israel on the one hand and Hamas and Islamic Jihad on the other.
“ Our interest lies with both Palestinians and Israelis who are victims of the long cycle of violence and insecurity, which has led to great suffering and despair,” says Prosecutor Bensouda.
Jurisdiction of the Court
She already said in 2019 that there was reasonable grounds for investigating war crimes. At that time, she referred to Israels military actions in the Gaza Strip and the construction of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Bensouda previously mentioned both the Israeli armed forces and terror movement Hamas as possible perpetrators of war crimes. Hamas would include the targeting of civilian targets with missiles fired from the Gaza Strip.
Following her rulings in 2019, Bensouda asked the Criminal Court to investigate the jurisdiction, jurisdiction, of the court. The outcome of that came last month. The Criminal Court determined that it has jurisdiction over the territories conquered by Israel in the Six-Day War in 1967, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
Protection of nationals
Prime Minister Netanyahu has made a fierce appeal to the prosecutions decision. “Israel is under attack,” he said. He defended the “heroic and moral” acts of Israeli soldiers fighting “the most cruel terrorists on earth”.
According to correspondent Ties Brock, many in the country will be negative. “The Criminal Court is not popular in Israel. Netanyahu previously accused the court of anti-Semitism, and many other politicians have also opted out of Israels investigation into crimes.”
Politician Gideon Saar, a challenger of Prime Minister Netanyahu, announced on Twitter that the Criminal Court is “being held hostage by those who support terrorism”.
The International Criminal Court does not investigate states, but focuses on acts by individuals. Israel does not recognize the court. The country indicated earlier that it took into account the fact that hundreds of Israeli citizens would become part of the investigation carried out by the Criminal Court. It then told us to study on opportunities to protect citizens from it.
The Palestinian Government in the West Bank welcomes the investigation and calls it a long-awaited step towards justice for the Palestinian people.
Hamas, which is in charge in the Gaza Strip, also welcomes the decision of the Criminal Court. “It is a step towards justice for the victims,” says a spokesman. In his statement, he refers only to possible Israeli war crimes. “Our resistance is legitimate and intended to protect our people. International law allows legitimate opposition.”
Hamas is regarded by Israel, the United States and the European Union as a terrorist organisation.