International Criminal Court asked to rule on Palestine ‘war crimes’

Chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said crimes ‘have been or are being committed’, but Israel says the court has no jurisdiction in Gaza or the West Bank


The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor is to launch a full investigation into alleged war crimes in the Palestinian territories — a move that could result in charges against both Israelis and Palestinians.

Fatou Bensouda said she believed war crimes “have been or are being committed in the West Bank including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip”.

She said there was “a reason to believe that war crimes were committed in the context of the 2014 hostilities in Gaza” — a reference to Operation Protective Edge, the most intense period of fighting between Israel and Gaza of the last decade.

She did specify the perpetrators of the alleged crimes. 

But Ms Bensouda added that “given the unique and highly contested legal and factual issues attaching to this situation” she had asked the ICC to rule on whether it had jurisdiction on incidents inside the Palestinian territories.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement on Friday that ICC’s remit did not extend to the West Bank: “The court has no jurisdiction in this case.

“The ICC only has jurisdiction over petitions submitted by sovereign states. But there has never been a Palestinian state.”

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