ICC to open probe into Israeli 'war crimes'

ICC to open probe into Israeli 'war crimes'
The International Criminal Court's prosecutor has opened a preliminary enquiry into war crimes allegedly committed against Palestinians by Israel.
2 min read
16 January, 2015
Gaza was battered during Israel's attack in summer 2014 [AFP]
The International Criminal Court's prosecutor on Friday opened a preliminary probe into possible war crimes committed against Palestinians, including during last year's Gaza war.

Fatou Bensouda said her office would conduct its "analysis in full independence and impartiality".

Her decision comes after Palestine formally applied to join the ICC earlier this month, allowing it to lodge war crimes and crimes against humanity complaints against Israel as of April.

At the same time, the Palestinians also recognised the ICC's jurisdiction retroactively, to cover the period during last summer's war in Gaza that killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians and 73 Israelis.

"A preliminary examination is not an investigation but a process of examining the information available in order to reach a fully informed determination on whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with a [full] investigation," Bensouda said.

Depending on her findings, Bensouda will decide at a later stage whether to launch or quash any investigation, based on the initial probe.

Palestine's move to join the ICC has also been seen as part of a shift in strategy to internationalise its campaign for statehood and move away from the stalled US-led peace process.

Both Israel and the US have condemned the Palestinians' plan, with Washington calling it "counterproductive".

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that the sole purpose of the preliminary examination was to "try to harm Israel's right to defend itself from terror".

His Palestinian counterpart, Riyad al-Maliki, welcomed the move, however.

"Everything is going according to plan, no state and nobody can now stop this action we requested," he told AFP.

"In the end, a full investigation will follow the preliminary one."