Above photo: In this July 9, 2020 file photo, Hamas supporters wave their green and national flags during a protest.
Palestinian organisations have urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) to move swiftly in holding Israel to account for its actions in the Occupied Territories after a landmark decision on Friday.
Judges ruled that it is within the court’s remit hear war crimes allegations made against Israel in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.
In a preliminary investigation opened six years ago, chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda focused on 2014’s Israeli aggression on the besieged Gaza Strip, which left 2,257 Palestinians dead, along with 74 Israeli soldiers.
In December 2019, Ms Bensouda said there was “a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.”
But the court, and Ms Bensouda, have been subjected to intense pressure from Israel and the US to drop investigations, while a concerted effort has been made to influence other nations.
The international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign welcomed the decision but warned that “Israel’s apartheid regime has killed over 3,600 Palestinians since the ICC started its preliminary examination of the situation in Palestine.”
In a statement it called on the ICC to “stop dragging its feet and resist pressure from the US, Israel and other Western countries and immediately do its job.
“Palestinians cannot afford any more crimes and suffering. Justice delayed is justice denied. The ICC must hold Israel accountable for its decades of crimes against the Palestinians people,” it said.
Predictably, Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu, whose trial on corruption charges opens tomorrow, branded the court ruling anti-semitic and “a perversion of justice.”
But Hamas, which will also be investigated by the ICC for its actions in Gaza, welcomed the ruling.
“Hamas resistance and the resistance of the Palestinian people is legitimate and consistent with international humanitarian law,” spokesman Hazem Qassem said.