ICC to Probe War Crimes in Occupied Palestinian Territories; US Disappointed

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The ICC had ruled earlier that it had jurisdiction over crimes committed in the Palestinian territories, including those occupied by Israel since 1967. — File photo

Chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement that the investigations “will be conducted independently, impartially and objectively, without fear or favour.”

BERLIN/ANKARA — The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Wednesday opened a probe into crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territories.

ICC’s chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement that the investigations “will be conducted independently, impartially and objectively, without fear or favour.”

The announcement came nearly a month after the ICC ruled that it had jurisdiction over crimes committed in the Palestinian territories, including those occupied by Israel since 1967.

The ICC’s probe may pave the way for legal proceedings against Tel Aviv for war crimes in occupied Palestinian territories.

“My Office welcomes the opportunity to engage with both the Government of Palestine and the Government of Israel to determine how justice may best be served within a framework of complementary domestic and international action,” chief prosecutor Bensouda said in her statement.

“In this way, we can hope to achieve some measure of accountability and justice for the benefit of Palestinian and Israeli victims of Rome Statute crimes,” she added.

For its part, the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed the decision of the ICC’s attorney general.

“This long-awaited step serves Palestine’s relentless endeavor to achieve justice and accountability as indispensable foundations for the peace that the Palestinian people demand and deserve,” the statement read.

It also said that the decision “demonstrates the court’s respect for its mandate and independence, and its commitment to the values ​​and principles of criminal justice as stipulated in the Rome Statute.”

Meanwhile, the Palestinian resistance group Hamas welcomed the ICC move.

In an exclusive statement to Anadolu Agency, Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem hailed the decision as a “step forward towards providing justice for the Palestinian victims and punishing the Israeli war criminals.”

Qassem called on the court to continue its path to “punish the leaders of the occupation for all the crimes they committed against the Palestinian people.”

Palestine is a party to the ICC’s founding treaty Rome Statute since 2015 and has long carried out diplomatic efforts for the investigation of alleged war crimes by Israel in the occupied territories.

US ‘disappointed by’ ICC probe

Meanwhile, the US said on Wednesday that it “firmly” opposes and is “disappointed” by the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s announcement of an investigation into crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territories.

“We will continue to uphold our strong commitment to Israel and its security, including by opposing actions that seek to target Israel unfairly,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said at a news conference.

Price said the ICC “has no jurisdiction over this matter” and “Israel is not a party to the ICC, and it has not consented to the court’s jurisdiction.”

He also said the US has “serious concerns about” ICC’s attempts to exercise its jurisdiction on Israeli personnel.

— Anadolu Agency

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