Palestinian minister hands ‘war crimes’ files to ICC – AP

by Newsstand

THE HAGUE, Netherlands  — Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki handed International Criminal Court prosecutors a file Thursday detailing possible Israeli war crimes in Gaza and settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The file, based on findings by a Palestinian commission of inquiry and information from non-government groups, feeds into a preliminary investigation by ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda into possible crimes on Palestinian territory.

Bensouda’s initial probe aims to establish if there is enough evidence to merit opening a full-scale investigation that could ultimately lead to charges against both Israelis and Palestinians. It is not clear how long the process will take.

Malki said the information forms “a compelling case for the prompt opening of an investigation.”

He said it included details on Israel’s settlements and military offensive throughout the occupied Palestinian territories, particularly last year’s Gaza War, and also outlined allegations of crimes committed against Palestinian prisoners.

The filing, “confirms that the absence of accountability has led to the recurrence of violations and crimes and will continue to do so if gone unchecked,” the Palestinians said in a statement before the filing.

The move comes just days after a separate investigation by the U.N. Human Rights Council accused both sides of committing possible war crimes in last summer’s Gaza War. The council’s report is also being studied by investigators at the ICC.

The Palestinian Authority joined the international court this year.

Israel is not a member and rejects the court’s authority.

“This is a Palestinian attempt to manipulate and politicize the judicial mechanisms of the ICC,” said Emmanuel Nahshon, spokesman of the Israeli Foreign Ministry. “We hope that the prosecutor will not fall in that trap.”

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