In an official ceremony hosted by the Consulate General of France in Gaza City last week, René Troccaz, the French Consul General, presented lawyer Raji Sourani, the Director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), the rank of Knight (Chevalier) of France’s National Order of Merit. Troccaz knighted Sourani on behalf of the President of France, Emmanuel Macron reports PCHR.
Sourani is considered to be the main driving force behind the efforts to prosecute Israel in the Hague for alleged ‘war crimes.’ Furthermore, in a 2020 statement, Israel’s Foreign Ministry accused Sourani of maintaining “close ties” with Hamas. The ministry also accused his organization, PCHR, of being involved in the violent Hamas-backed riots on the Gaza border fence with Israel.
— France à Jérusalem (@FranceJerusalem) July 8, 2021
The National Order of Merit is considered to be the highest honor awarded by France to both French and international figures alike. A letter sent by France’s Consul General to Sourani stated: “this honor as part of your peerless commitment to the service of human rights in Palestine and in gratitude to your courage and freedom of thought.” The Consul General added, “As the Director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, you contributed to Palestine’s accession to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. As a man of peace, you have worked tirelessly in favor of justice and endeavored all efforts to achieve reconciliation.”
During the ceremony, Trocca sang Sourani’s praises saying: “The latest crisis and tensions prove that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will remain at the top of the international events and that France took several initiatives to promote the two-state solution and emphasize the basic principles of international law.” Mr. Troccaz added, “I would like to take this opportunity to honor Mr. Raji Sourani, Director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.”
“Today, you are conferred, as an honor, the rank of Knight (Chevalier) of France’s National Order of Merit in acknowledgment of your dedicated commitment to the service of human rights… Raji Sourani, on behalf of the President of the Republic and by virtue of the authority vested in me, I hereby Knight you with France’s National Order of Merit.”
Sourani thanked France’s backing of the International Criminal Court (ICC) since its establishment, as well as its support for the work of human rights organizations. Sourani vowed to continue prosecuting “perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including the crime of racial discrimination.”
In April, Israel365 News reported that Israel rejected the International Criminal Court probe into alleged war crimes perpetrated by the Israel Defense Forces against Hamas in Gaza as part of “Operation Protective Edge” in the summer of 2014, based on the fact it lacks authority over Israel, said then Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.