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Israeli lawyer takes war crimes case against former Hamas chief to ICC

    An Israeli lawyer best known for fighting for the rights of messianic Jews began a very different type of battle this week: against a top Hamas strongman.

    Many of Calev Myers’ big cases until now have been representing Israel’s messianic Jewish community as it fights the state on alleged discrimination. This, together with a general agenda of social rights, is a major focus of his NGO, the Jerusalem Institute of Justice (JIJ).

    But on Monday he was at the International Criminal Court, filing a complaint against Ismail Haniyeh, who led Hamas in Gaza until last month.

    The JIJ is urging the court to investigate Haniyeh and lodge a case against him “for for his role in the commissioning of war crimes during the 2014 conflict with Israel.” 

    Mr Myers is arguing that Haniyeh should be taken to task for war crimes against Israelis and against fellow Palestinians. The firing of rockets was a war crime, as was the use of the Gaza population as “human shields,” he argued. 

    Mr Myers feels it is “important to speak in the name of those who can’t raise their voice, because they are trapped under the dictatorial regime of the Hamas, led by Ismail Haniyeh." 

    “The Jerusalem Institute of Justice and I have decided not to stand idly by while Israel is attacked in the international arena and only reacting after the fact,” Mr Myers said. “We have initiated a sequence of activities against those who intend to harm us.”

    He chose Haniyeh in particular for the complaint because of his “pivotal role in Hamas’s extremist ideology and its consistent violation of the human rights of the Gazan civilian population.” Haniyeh headed Hamas in Gaza for more than a decade until he resigned recently, apparently because he is set to become head of the Hamas politburo.

    The JIJ also advocates for lone soldiers, opposes sex trafficking and gives legal suppprt to Holocaust survivors. 

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