Palestinians submit allegations of Israeli war crimes to International Criminal Court!

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FOUR Palestinian human rights organisations on Wednesday submitted their fourth substantive communication to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), alleging that high-level Israeli civilian and military officials have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in the occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem.

The director of Al-Haq, Shawan Jabarin, who together with human rights lawyer Nada Kiswanson submitted the communication, stated that ‘this 700-page communication provides a compelling and reasonable basis for the Prosecutor to open an investigation into crimes alleged to be committed against the Palestinian population in the occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem.

Over the past 50 years Israel has subjected the Palestinian population to a belligerent occupation that deprives them of their fundamental human rights and subjects them to heinous crimes. The communication to the International Criminal Court offers hope that anybody that commits crimes against Palestinians will be held to account. We are convinced that there can be no lasting and genuine peace without justice.’

The communication addresses Israel’s endeavour to enlarge its territory and ensure Israeli Jewish domination therein by altering the demographic composition of the occupied Palestinian territory. As part of this endeavour, the Palestinian human rights organisations provide evidence that shows that Israel persecutes the occupied Palestinian population and subjects them to the crimes of persecution and apartheid.

The communication also addresses the forcible transfer of the protected Palestinian population and the implantation of Israeli settlers in their stead. Furthermore, the communication provides supporting material on the extensive appropriation and destruction, as well as pillaging of Palestinian property.

It also offers evidence on the wilful killing and murder of 300 Palestinians by members of the Israeli forces since 13 June 2014. Since 2015, Israel has implemented a shoot-to-kill policy in the occupied Palestinian territory. The director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Raji Sourani, said that ‘the transfer of Israeli settlers into the occupied Palestinian territory constitutes a unique war crime in that it is coupled with the confiscation of massive tracts of Palestinian land, the extensive destruction of Palestinian property, and the tearing apart of the Palestinian social fabric and way of life.

‘Israel’s actions in the occupied West Bank are evidently one of colonisation. The international community long ago decided that colonisation is reprehensible and with the Rome Statute it is punishable through the crime of settler transfer.’

Main methods resorted to by Israel are the fragmentation of the occupied territory and dispersal of the occupied population. The director of Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, Issam Younis, said that ‘Israel has been undermining the integrity of the Palestinian territory since at least the beginning of its occupation in 1967.

‘The isolation of Gaza, in addition to the regular, full-scale military assaults, ultimately enables Israel to consolidate its control over the whole occupied Palestinian territory and deny Palestinians their internationally recognised right to self-determination. ‘Moreover, Israel’s closure of the Gaza Strip and its associated buffer-zone policy impede Palestinian collective enjoyment of the occupied territory and its resources.’

This communication is the fourth one submitted by the four Palestinian human rights organisations. The first three related to crimes allegedly committed by high-level Israeli civilian and military officials in the occupied Gaza Strip, including in the context of the 2014 military offensive.

The ICC has jurisdiction to examine war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide committed on the territory of the State of Palestine since 13 June 2014. The Prosecutor is currently carrying out a preliminary examination into the situation in Palestine.

The four organisations urged the ICC Prosecutor to urgently open a full investigation into the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory. The Palestinian human rights organisations believe that an investigation is a necessary step towards ending the culture of impunity that has long prevailed in regard to Israeli crimes and to hold high-level political and military officials accountable.

In doing so, it is imperative that the views of Palestinian victims are addressed in the interests of justice and reparations made. This is imperative to ensure that regional and international peace and security prevails, they said.

• The ongoing events at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) was the highlight of the three Palestinian Arabic dailies on Wednesday with focus on the speech President Mahmoud Abbas was planning to present later in the day at the UNGA and his scheduled meeting with US President Donald Trump.

Al-Ayyam quoted Foreign Minister Riyad Malki saying Abbas was going to focus on recognition of Palestine, international protection to the Palestinian people and the necessity of Israel halting all settlement activities. Al-Hayat al-Jadida said Abbas met a number of world leaders on the sidelines of the UNGA session highlighting with big black bold letters Abbas saying: ‘We did not and will not stop allowances for martyrs and prisoners.’

Abbas, who said this in an interview with the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi, also said that he opposed Arab normalisation with Israel before resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and that there will not be a trilateral meeting between him, Trump and Israeli Premier Binyamin Netanyahu ‘if we are not sure that there will be results from it.’

It said quoting Abbas’ spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh that the speech at the UNGA after Abbas’ meeting with Trump will discuss all issues. Al-Quds said Palestinian-American differences will prevent issuing a joint statement after the Abbas-Trump meeting. It said Trump has ignored the Israeli occupation and the Palestinian issue in his UN speech.

In other news, the reconciliation following Hamas’ announcement that it has dissolved the administrative committee that ran Gaza affairs were also highlighted in the dailies with focus on statements by Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in which he said his movement welcomes the conciliation government and is ready to turn over powers to it.

Al-Quds quoted Hamas senior official Ahmad Yousef saying that Hamas will turn everything in Gaza over to Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah’s conciliation government except security inside the Gaza Strip. It quoted the head of the Red Cross in Gaza saying that people in Gaza do not have any hope that their situation is going to improve and that Israeli restrictions prevent the existence of a normal economy.

Al-Ayyam quoted the Palestinian government saying it is ready to take over responsibilities in the Gaza Strip. It said members of the administrative committee had quit their jobs after it was dissolved.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida said Israel set up observation posts at Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem. Israel also banned Palestinians from entering the city and imposed home arrest on others.