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ICC to Open Preliminary Probe Into Israeli War Crimes in Gaza, Netanyahu Angry and Lieberman Threatens to Dismantle the Court

January 17, 2015 



ICC Probe Into Israeli War Crimes Opened

Friday January 16, 2015 20:17 by IMEMC News & Agencies

The International Criminal Court's prosecutor, on Friday, opened an initial probe to see if war crimes have been committed against Palestinians, including during last year's war on Gaza.

"Today the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Fatou Bensouda opened a preliminary examination into the situation in Palestine," her office announced in a statement, adding it may lead to a full-blown investigation.

According to AFP, Bensouda said her office would conduct its "analysis in full independence and impartiality".

"A preliminary examination is not an investigation but a process of examining the information available in order to reach a fully informed determination on whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with a (full) investigation," Bensouda said.

Depending on her findings, Bensouda will decide at a later stage whether to launch or quash the investigation, based on the initial probe.

Meanwhile, Palestinian ambassador to Russia, Faid Mustafa, told Ma'an News Agency that the Palestinian Authority had begun to prepare documents for lodging formal accusations against Israel.

President Mahmoud Abbas signed requests to join the ICC and 16 other conventions, following the UN Security Council's failure to adopt a resolution which might have opened channels for full Palestinian statehood.

The US branded the move as "counterproductive", while Israel responded by delaying the transfer of $127 million in taxes it collects on behalf of the Palestinians.

According to the UN, Palestine is slated to join the ICC on April 1st.

Lieberman Threatens To “Dismantle” ICC

Saturday January 17, 2015 02:42 by IMEMC & Agencies

Following the decision of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to launch a preliminary investigation to determine “whether war crimes have been committed” during Israel’s last war Gaza in the summer of 2014, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman threatened that Israel “would act on dissolving the ICC," and considered the decision “provocative.”

He added that Israel will not cooperate with any investigation, and will act on the international level to dissolve the ICC after describing the decision as hypocritical, and supportive of what he called “terrorism.”

On Friday evening, Lieberman told Israel’s Channel 2 TV that Tel Aviv should act on removing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas from his post, and engage in talks with some Arab countries to reach what he called “a peaceful resolution that does not harm Israel’s ability to defend itself.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was also angered by the decision, and said that the ICC cannot conduct the investigation because “Palestine is not a sovereign state.”

The latest developments came after the ICC prosecutor Fatou Densouda declared she has opened a preliminary investigation of “possible” war crimes committed during the most recent Israeli war on Gaza.

She also vowed an independent and impartial preliminary investigation, adding that the move comes after the Palestinian Authority signed the founding treaty of the ICC in July of last year, and officially recognized its jurisdiction.

During the summer of 2014, the Israeli army bombarded thousands of Palestinian homes and residential towers, hospitals and clinics, UNRWA schools and facilities, media offices and dozens of other civilian facilities, in addition to destroying the infrastructure in the besieged coastal region.

The Ministry of Housing in Gaza recently said the number of homes that have been destroyed, and partially damaged, during the Israeli aggression on the coastal region is close to 124,000.

The Israeli shelling and air strikes killed at around 2,137 Palestinians, including 578 children, 264 women, and 103 elderly, while more than 11100, including 3374 children, 2088 women and 410 elderly.

Euro-Mid Observer: ICC decision gives hope for victims

January 17, 2015, GENEVA, (PIC)--

The Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights welcomed in a statement issued Saturday the decision made by the International Criminal Court (ICC) "to open a preliminary probe into the situation in Palestine".

The Euro-Mid Observer said that ICC General Prosecutor’s decision to open an inquiry into war crimes committed in the occupied territories gives hope for justice to thousands of victims of war crimes.

This decision would put an end to impunity for crimes against humanity that often causes further conflict and violence escalation, the statement said.

“We, in the Euro-Mid Observer, have long called for an independent investigation into crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territories.”

The observer declared willingness “to cooperate with the General Prosecutor and to provide the needed evidence that will lead to credible and accurate results.”

The statement called on European countries to support ICC’s decision and to pressure the Israeli authorities to fully cooperate.

ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda decided Friday to open a preliminary examination into the situation in Palestine after accepting the jurisdiction of the ICC over Israeli crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, since June 13, 2014. 

Hamas welcomes ICC inquiry into Israeli-Palestinian conflict

GAZA Sat Jan 17, 2015 9:51am EST

(Reuters) -

 The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, said on Saturday it welcomed a decision by the International Criminal Court to launch an inquiry into possible Israeli war crimes in the Palestinian territories.

ICC prosecutors said on Friday the preliminary examination would scrutinize "in full independence and impartiality" crimes that may have occurred since June 13 last year, opening a path to possible charges against Israelis or Palestinians.

The court's decision came after Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a rival to Hamas, requested ICC membership, against strong opposition from Israel and the United States.     

Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for Hamas which rules the Gaza Strip, said on Saturday that Hamas appreciated the move.

"What is needed now is to quickly take practical steps in this direction and we are ready to provide (the court) with thousands of reports and documents that confirm the Zionist enemy has committed horrible crimes against Gaza and against our people," he said in a statement.

Israel rejected the court's Friday decision as hypocrisy and the U.S. State Department said it was "a tragic irony that Israel, which has withstood thousands of terrorist rockets fired at its civilians and its neighborhoods, is now being scrutinized by the ICC".

The June 13 date would allow the court to look at the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza in July-August 2014 during which more than 2,100 Palestinians (most of them women and children) and 73 Israelis (basically soldiers) were killed.

Prosecutors will assess evidence of alleged crimes and determine if they are of sufficient gravity and scale to warrant charges against individuals on either side.

Israel in 2005 pulled its settlers and troops out of Gaza, which remains under an Israeli and Egyptian blockade. Palestinians seek statehood in Gaza and the West Bank.

(Reporting by Nidal al-Mughbrabi; editing by Andrew Roche)


ICC to open preliminary probe into possible Israeli war crimes in Gaza


January 16, 2015

The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Friday opened a preliminary investigation into possible Israeli war crimes in the Palestinian territories to determine if a formal investigation should be launched into acts committed during the 2014 Gaza conflict.

The Hague-based prosecutors said they would examine “in full independence and impartiality” crimes that may have occurred since June 13 last year. The move allows the court to investigate actions taken during the July-August 2014 conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, during which more than 2,100 Palestinians and 73 Israelis were killed.

The court stressed that, at this stage, the ICC’s actions should not be considered a formal investigation.

“It is not an investigation,” Emeric Rogier, chief of situation analysis at the ICC, told FRANCE 24 by telephone. “It is a process in which the office will gather information on alleged crimes committed in Palestine since 13 June 2014.”

“We will analyse this information and it is only at the end of this preliminary examination that the prosecutor will decide to open a formal investigation,” Rogier added.

The ICC’s decision to launch a preliminary probe was immediately condemned by Israeli leaders. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he rejected the ICC decision, which he called "scandalous", claiming the court had no jurisdiction over the Palestinian territories.

The ICC’s Rogier said he hoped Israel would cooperate with the examination despite not being a signatory to the ICC treaty, known as the Rome Statute.

The investigation was branded as “outrageous” by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

An initial inquiry could lead to war crimes charges against Israel, whether relating to the recent Gaza war or its 47-year-long occupation of the West Bank. It also occupied Gaza from 1967-2005. Palestinians are seeking the establishment of a state in the two territories.

“A door is being opened which could eventually lead to charges against Israeli leaders, so this is definitely ruffling some feathers,” Gallagher Fenwick, FRANCE 24’s correspondent in Jerusalem, said.

The ICC move also exposes the Palestinians to prosecution, possibly for rocket attacks perpetrated on Israel by militant groups operating out of Gaza.

ICC struggles

In a statement last week, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon confirmed that the Palestinians will formally join the ICC on April 1 following a Palestinian request for membership – a move strongly opposed by Israel and the United States.

The ICC has been criticised for focusing on Africa while being unable to intervene in some of the world’s bloodiest and most intractable conflicts.

The world’s first permanent war crimes tribunal, the ICC is the court of last resort for its 122 member states, aiming to hold the powerful accountable for the most heinous crimes when national authorities are unable or unwilling to act.

But the court has struggled over its first decade, completing just three cases and securing two convictions. Critics say it has been vulnerable to political pressure and opposition from non-members: the United States, China and Russia. 



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