ICC Prosecutor to Probe Palestinian Claims of Israeli War Crimes

(Bloomberg) -- The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said she would open an investigation into Palestinian claims that Israel had committed war crimes in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip.

“I am satisfied that there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation into the situation in Palestine,” prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said Friday in an emailed statement. “In brief, I am satisfied that war crimes have been, or are being committed in the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.”

Israel, which says the ICC has no jurisdiction to examine Palestinian claims given that they aren’t citizens of a sovereign state and that Israel hasn’t signed on to be a member of the ICC, criticized the finding. “This is a black day for truth and justice,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a text statement.

Palestinians welcomed the decision.

Bensouda has said during past clashes between Israel and the Palestinians that violence against civilians can constitute war crimes. The ICC opened a preliminary examination into the Palestinian situation in 2015 at the request of the Palestinians.

“The ICC prosecutor’s decision has turned the ICC into a political tool to delegitimize the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said in the statement. “We will not be silent. We will not bow our heads before this outrage.”

Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator with Israel, called the ICC decision “a positive and encouraging step” that brings the Palestinians closer to “putting an end to the impunity of the perpetrators of these crimes.”

Israel captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza during the 1967 Middle East war. It pulled soldiers and settlers out of Gaza in 2005 but still controls borders. Palestinians have limited self-rule in the West Bank while Israel has maintained overall security control. Israel annexed east Jerusalem in a move that hasn’t been widely internationally recognized.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.