Palestinians Urge Speedy ICC Probe Into Alleged Israeli Crimes

The Hague-based ICC receives details into so-called extra-judicial killings of Palestinians, home demolitions in move Israel blasts 'political misuse' of court.

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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in The Hague, Netherlands, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in The Hague, Netherlands, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015.Credit: AP

Palestinian leaders on Friday handed what they called evidence of Israeli crimes committed in the recent outburst of violence to prosecutors at the International Criminal Court.

Foreign Minister Riad Malki said the Palestinians submitted details to Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda of what they described as extra-judicial killings of Palestinians as well as home demolitions and other forms of collective punishment.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki (C) leaves the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague, Aug. 5, 2014.Credit: Reuters

Bensouda launched a preliminary probe in January into possible crimes committed on Palestinian territory. In June, Malki handed her a file detailing possible Israeli war crimes in Gaza and settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The preliminary ICC probe aims to establish if there are grounds to open a full-scale investigation. It is unclear when it will be completed.

Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, Jan.26, 2015.Credit: Reuters

Malki said Friday he wants the court to finish it quickly to deter further deaths.

"I think it's important for Israel to get messages — clear messages and strong messages — and that's why we are pushing for expediting the preliminary examination," he said.

The Palestinian Authority has joined the Hague-based court in April. Israel is not a member and says the court does not have jurisdiction to hear the Palestinian complaint.

Israel's ambassador to the Netherlands, Haim Divon, said Palestinian leaders were attempting to "misuse the ICC as a stage for promoting their political agenda."

"Israel expects that this attempted manipulation of the ICC be rejected, both for the benefit of the court's reputation and the hope of advancing coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians," he said.

The Palestinians' visit to the court comes amid a surge in violent clashes between Palestinians and Israelis.

In all, 11 Israelis have been killed in Palestinian attacks in the past six weeks, while 66 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire. Of those, 40 were said by Israel to have been involved in attacks or attempted attacks, most of them stabbings.

Israel has blamed the attacks on what it says is anti-Israel incitement by Palestinian political and religious leaders. Palestinians say the violence is largely driven by the hopelessness many Palestinians feel after nearly half a century of Israeli military rule, with no end in sight.

Rights groups have accused Israeli troops of using excessive force in some cases, a charge that Israel's military has denied. Israel has also revived a previously suspended policy of demolishing the homes of alleged assailants, a move that rights groups call collective punishment.

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