Skip to main content

Palestinians demand full investigation into Israel at International Criminal Court

Palestinian protesters react to tear gas fired by Israeli troops during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel on May 18, 2018.

Khalil Hamra/The Associated Press

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki asked prosecutors at the International Criminal Court on Tuesday to launch a full investigation into accusations of Israeli human rights abuses on Palestinian territory, saying the evidence was “insurmountable”.

Maliki submitted a so-called “referral”, giving the prosecutor at the Hague-based court the legal basis to move beyond a preliminary inquiry started in January 2015.

The International Criminal Court has the authority to hear cases of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity committed on the territory of the 123 countries that have signed up to it. Israel has not joined the court, but because the Palestinians have, Israelis could be targeted for crimes committed on Palestinian lands.

Story continues below advertisement

Israel rejected Tuesday’s move as “legally invalid”, saying the court lacks jurisdiction because the Palestinian Authority is not a state and Israel abides by international law.

“The Palestinians continue to exploit the court for political purposes, rather than work towards resuming the peace process with Israel,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“It is absurd that the Palestinian actions vis-à-vis the court come at a time when the Palestinians continue to incite to acts of terrorism,” it said.

The court’s prosecutors launched an initial investigation into allegations against Israel when the Palestinians first joined the court in 2015. Tuesday’s referral allows that probe to proceed to the next stage of a full investigation, without waiting for a judge to give approval.

“A referral... does not automatically lead to the opening of an investigation,” chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement. “There should be no doubt that in this and any other situation currently before my office, I will always take the decision warranted by my mandate.”

“REAL EFFECT”

Harvard legal expert Alex Whiting, a former ICC prosecutor, said on Twitter that the referral “has a real effect. ..it is much harder for the office of the prosecutor to stay in the preliminary investigation phase for years”.

Story continues below advertisement

Maliki said the request would give prosecutors the authority to investigate alleged crimes starting in 2014 and beyond, including last week’s deaths during protests in Gaza.

“We believe there is ample and insurmountable evidence to that effect and we believe that proceeding with an investigation is the right and needed course of action,” he said.

“Through judicial referral we want... the office of the prosecutor to open without delay an investigation into all crimes,” he told journalists.

The ICC, which opened in July 2002, is a court of last resort, only stepping in when a state is unwilling or unable to investigate crimes on its territory.

Report an error
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter