Palestinians ask ICC to investigate Israel human rights violations

Palestine Presses International Criminal Court for Immediate Action Against Israel

Minister Riad Malki

The Palestinian foreign minister, Riad Malki, has presented to ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, a statement of charges for tribunal to investigate "crimes and violations" related to "Israeli colonial activity under occupation in West Bank and East Jerusalem settlements".

Sixty Palestinian protesters were killed and over 2,000 injured by Israeli forces.

Palestinian officials have cut off all dialogue with President Donald Trump's government and have maintained minimal contact with Israel since talks broke down four years ago.

Alex Whiting, a professor at Harvard Law School and former ICC prosecutor, said the Palestinian referral would have a "real effect".

The ICC has been conducting a probe since 2015 into alleged crimes in the disputed territories, including Israel's settlement policy and the 2014 Gaza conflict. However, the court has not opened a full-blown investigation that could ultimately lead to indictments.

The move came as hopes of Israeli-Palestinian peace reached their lowest ebb after the United States relocated its embassy to the contested city of Jerusalem last week.

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Israeli battle tanks have targeted the southern part of the Gaza Strip as the Tel Aviv regime goes ahead with its acts of aggression against the besieged Palestinian coastal sliver. The army said there were no injuries on the Israeli side, and no additional details were immediately available.

The Israeli foreign ministry said the Palestinian referral was legally invalid and insisted the ICC lacked jurisdiction over the Israeli-Palestinian issue, "since Israel is not a member of the court and because the Palestinian Authority is not a state". The ICC has recognized "Palestine" as a member state.

The ICC is a court of last resort. "Israel acts in accordance with an independent judicial system, consistent with that of a democratic state and in conformity with global law", spokesman emphasized.

He did not say anything upon entering but after submitting the request he said it would be an important test of the ICC's accountability.

The Palestinians appear to have an especially strong case in the matter of settlements.

Under the court's rules, any member can request an investigation. Over 600,000 Israelis now live in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, a number that would be extremely hard, if not impossible, to uproot. Israel captured both territories from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast war. "The use of lethal and other excessive force is a serious violation of worldwide law, yet our efforts to challenge the policy from within Israel have been met with support for the status quo". The Palestinians believe the step undercuts their own claims to east Jerusalem. Thousands of soldiers are deployed to protect colonies that have water flows seven times higher than Palestinians and have at ir service main roads.

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