The International Criminal Court’s Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has officially announced the intended investigation of alleged war crimes perpetrated by Israel during events in the West Bank and Gaza in 2014 which came in response to Hamas and other terrorist organizations firing over 4,500 rockets and mortars at Israeli civilian centers. The criminal investigation will also focus on claims that Israeli policy allowing Jews to live in Judea and Samaria under the international prohibition against “transferring civilian population into occupied territory” also constitutes a war crime and also that by protecting its southern border against Hamas-led assaults, the IDF was guilty of war crimes.
The prosecutor’s bias was apparent in her statement which referred to “the Situation in Palestine”. Palestine has never been a recognized political entity, though a preliminary ruling by the ICC ruled that Palestine was a state, though “it was not determining whether Palestine fulfilled the requirements of statehood under public international law, or adjudicating a border dispute, or prejudging the question of any future borders.”
The Palestinian Authority praised the move. “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,” the PA foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
Hamas also welcomed ICC decision to investigate Israeli “war crimes” despite the terrorist organization also being a focus of the ICC investigation. In her 2019 ruling, Bensouda considered some of Hamas’ actions to be worthy of consideration by the ICC, saying there is a “reasonable basis to believe that members of Hamas and Palestinian armed groups committed… war crimes.” Some of these crimes included torturing Gaza civilians, targeting civilian centers in Israel, and using Gazans as human shields.
Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem described the decision as “courageous” while defending Hamas’s actions as “legitimate resistance.”
“Our resistance is legitimate, and it comes to defend our people. All international laws approve legitimate resistance guaranteed by all the laws and international laws,” Qassem said in a press statement,” said Qassem. Hamas is regarded as a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States and the European Union.
The leader of the Islamic Jihad Movement, Ahmed Al-Mudallal, called on the International Criminal Court to impose the harshest penalties on the criminal occupation leaders, describing the court’s decision to open an investigation into war crimes they committed in the Palestinian territories as a “positive but insufficient step.”
A report by Palestinian Media Watch in April revealed that the 2019 report that enabled this investigation was the result of covert cooperation between Bensouda and the Palestinian Authority and was not the result of a judicial process.It should be noted that the State Department under former-President Trump sanctioned Bensouda and Phakiso Mochochoko, head of The Hague court’s Jurisdiction, Complementarity and Cooperation Division, for “illegitimate attempts to subject Americans to its jurisdiction.” This was in response to the Hague’s investigation into alleged US war crimes connected to the war in Afghanistan. Bensouda’s six-year term will expire in June. Bensouda is scheduled to leave her post in June. It is still unclear what her replacement, British barrister Karim Khan, will decide to do.
In addition, the US shut the Palestinian Liberation Organization mission in Washington in response to the case being brought to the ICC as it violated a 2015 Congressional mandate against such a move as it prevented bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.