International Criminal Court to probe alleged war crimes in Palestinian territories

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Dec 21, 2019, 10.39 AM(IST) Edited By: Abhilash Mahajan

International Court of Justice (File Photo) Photograph:( Others )

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The Palestinians welcomed the step and described it as "long overdue" after a nearly five-year preliminary probe by the prosecutor into the situation since the 2014 war in Gaza.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor said on Friday that there is a "reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation" on the alleged war crimes committed in Palestine, in a statement which got sharp reactions from the United States and Israel. 

The Palestinians welcomed the step and described it as "long overdue" after a nearly five-year preliminary probe by the prosecutor into the situation since the 2014 war in Gaza.

"I am satisfied that there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation into the situation in Palestine," ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a 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."

She also asked ICC to rule on the territory over which it has jurisdiction because of the "unique and highly contested legal and factual issues attaching to this situation" before launching a full probe. 

I don't require any authorisation from judges to open a probe as there had been a referral from the Palestinians, she further added.

After the prosecutor's statements, the US  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that they oppose this move and any action that seeks to target Israel "unfairly". 

Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu slammed that statements and called it a "dark day for truth and justice". 

"The ICC prosecutor's decision has turned the International Criminal Court into a political tool to delegitimise the State of Israel," Netanyahu said.

Palestine, on the other hand, praised the step and in a statement said: "a long overdue step to move the process forward towards an investigation, after nearly five long and difficult years of preliminary examination".