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Palestinian-Led Initiative Warns European Officials Of Intention To Prosecute Over Complicity With Israel

Above photo: Pro-Palestinian demonstrators at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands. James Petermeier/ZUMA.

The Justice and Accountability for Palestine Initiative has issued a stark warning to European public officials of the Austrian, French, German and Dutch governments that they could be individually liable for their role in aiding and abetting Israeli war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of Genocide through their involvement in providing military, economic, and political support to Israel. 

This comes after 108 days of Israel’s relentless war against Gaza and the Palestinian people, resulting in a devastating toll, as of 19 January: 

24,977 Palestinians killed in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

66,082 Palestinians injured in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

1,930,000 Palestinians internally displaced in the Gaza Strip.

10,300 Palestinian children killed in the Gaza Strip.

7,100 Palestinian women killed in the Gaza Strip.

117 Palestinian journalists killed by  Israel.

By ordering 1.2 million people in besieged Gaza to immediately leave their homes in northern Gaza and flee south, Israel has enforced mass displacement which constitutes both a war crime and a crime against humanity. Its ongoing complete siege of the Gaza Strip, restricting electricity, food, water, and other basic necessities, further amounts to collective punishment — a war crime under the Geneva Convention. Already back in November, more than 36 UN experts sounded the alarm about the risk of genocide in Gaza, “disturbed by the failure of governments and international systems to heed [the] call and achieve an immediate ceasefire”… “and profoundly concerned about the support of certain governments for Israel’s strategy of warfare against the besieged population of Gaza, and the failure of the international system to mobilise to prevent genocide”.

The Government of South Africa made history, applying to the ICJ under the Genocide Convention accusing Israel of perpetrating genocide against the 2.3 million Palestinians in the occupied and besieged Gaza Strip and requested provisional measures that include a ceasefire and lifting of the blockade. The World Court is expected to decide on the requested measures within days, while deliberations on the merit of the genocide charges against Israel will likely take many months. South Africa’s submission described Israeli actions in Gaza as “genocidal in character because they are intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial and ethnic group”.

The German government, for instance, has increased military aid and  promised unwavering economic and political support to Israel as it continues its relentless bombardment of the Gaza Strip. Even when the number of Palestinians killed in Gaza had exceeded 10,000 five weeks into the start of Israel’s brutal onslaught, Chancellor Scholz continued to oppose a ceasefire: “ I do not think the calls for an immediate ceasefire or long pause – which would amount to the same thing – are right.” Meanwhile, the Dutch government greenlighted export of military equipment to Israel during the genocide, while the Austrian and French public officials, through declarations and visits have shown unconditional support to Israel’s bombing campaign and can be legally liable for “aiding and abetting” war crimes. 

‘Despite horrific crimes committed against our people in Gaza, from indiscriminate bombings, mass killings, destruction of civilian infrastructure, starvation and forced displacement of the vast majority of the Palestinians in Gaza, European public officials have continuously and shamelessly supported such crimes publicly, and therefore must be held accountable …’ said Rula Jamal, Co-Director of the Palestine institute for Public Diplomacy (PIPD), one of the co-leads of the initiative.

‘At a time of unprecedented atrocities being committed against the Palestinian people in Gaza, it is not only a moral obligation of European states to uphold the international rule of law and prevent the crime of genocide. It is also a legal obligation: failure to do so might result in individual criminal liability for those who continue to recklessly support Israel’s relentless assault on Palestinians in Gaza’, according to Daan de Grefte, Legal Officer at the European Legal Support Center.

“As legal advocates deeply committed to justice, the unprecedented atrocities against the Palestinian people profoundly stir our consciences, compelling us to unite in fulfilling our duty. Those public officials implicated in supporting Israel’s genocide in Gaza must face accountability. We urge decision-makers at all levels to reconsider their endorsement of international crimes, put an end to the hypocrisy, bring an immediate halt to the ongoing devastation in Gaza, and champion international law as the universal standard for protecting every individual”, emphasized Ihsan Adel, Chairperson of the Law for Palestine.

‘The continuation of unconditional support and armament of the Dutch state of Israel, even after seemingly genocidal statements by Israeli senior officials, is unacceptable. In combination with the horrific facts on the ground in Gaza, specifically the enormous death toll – including almost half of them children, this means that the Dutch government cannot keep supporting Israel’s actions without consequences. The Dutch state and its officials have the duty to prevent genocide and all other violations of humanitarian law’, states attorney Wout Albers of Global Justice Association.

Sustaining such assistance implicates European public officials in the perpetration of war crimes and crimes against humanity as well as failure to prevent the crime of genocide. This may render officials criminally liable for violating international law by ‘aiding and abetting’  Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people. 

The full letters to the government officials can be found here.

The Justice and Accountability for Palestine initiative is a decentralized worldwide network of legal organizations, lawyers and human rights defenders; dedicated to investigating and pursuing legal actions against individuals and entities involved in crimes in Palestine. The initiative is coordinated by Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy (PIPD), the European Legal Support Center (ELSC<span) and Law for Palestine (Law4Palestine).

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