ICC prosecutor says Israel is committing war crimes in the West Bank

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda (Courtesy of the ICC)

Cnaan Liphshiz

AMSTERDAM (JTA) — Israel is committing war crimes in the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, the prosecutor’s office of the International Criminal Court said in a statement.

“I am satisfied that there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation into the situation in Palestine,” the prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, wrote in a statement Friday. She added that the conclusion comes “following a thorough, independent and objective assessment of all reliable information” available to her office in The Hague, Netherlands.

This would appear to mean that the prosecutor’s office is ready to indict Israel for the alleged crimes, a development that would pose a serious diplomatic challenge to Israel’s longstanding claim that it employs extraordinary measures to avoid hurting civilians and other actions forbidden in international law in its assaults on its enemies.

An indictment and trial are pending Bensouda’s referral to the court of “confirmation that the ‘territory’ over which the Court may exercise its jurisdiction, and which I may subject to investigation, comprises the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza,” she said.

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The principled legal position of the State of Israel, its Foreign Ministry wrote in a statement, is that the court lacks jurisdiction in relation to Israel and that any Palestinian actions with respect to the court are legally invalid. Israel is not a party to the ICC.