ICJP submits evidence of Israeli war crimes in Gaza to Met Police war crimes unit

ICJP submits evidence of Israeli war crimes in Gaza to Met Police war crimes unit
The Gaza war has seen more than 24,000 people killed, the vast majority being women and children with huge parts of the Palestinian enclave destroyed.
4 min read
16 January, 2024
Tayab Ali and Haydee Dijkstal both spoke about the ICJP evidence on Israeli war crimes in Gaza given to the Metropolitan Police in London [Oliver Mizzi/TNA]

The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) has submitted evidence of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Israel in Gaza to London's Metropolitan Police, following calls for evidence by its war crimes unit.

The evidence compiled in the 78-page dossier consists of both eyewitness testimony and photographic evidence relating to a number of war crimes.

These include attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure - such as hospitals and cultural property - the use of starvation as a weapon of war, and Israel's use of white phosphorus against civilians.

ICJP Director Tayab Ali said the evidence related to four senior UK government ministers or officials, whom Ali told The New Arab "are complicit on a secondary liability basis".

He further announced that nine British nationals who travelled to Israel to fight in the Israeli military were in the case.

Evidence was also submitted regarding several high-ranking Israeli government officials, including members of Israel's war cabinet, and high-ranking military personnel.

Haydee Dijkstal, senior external legal counsel for the ICJP, said that the complaint is supported by seven witnesses who had either been in Gaza and had witnessed crimes, or who had family in Gaza and had received testimonies through them.

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She also added that the gathered evidence included public information, evidence from governments, NGOs, international organisations, think tanks, and media reports.

Dijkstal said: "UK legislation provides the potential for suspects to be investigated and prosecuted under the principle of universal jurisdiction for crimes committed outside the UK."

The legislation cited by Dijkstal is the Geneva Conventions Act of 1957, which allows the government to prosecute crimes by non-British nationals committed inside or outside of the UK.

Dijkstal also cited the International Criminal Courts Act of 2001, which applies to UK nationals and residents who have committed crimes outside the UK as outlined in the Rome Statute.

The crimes included those accused of aiding and abetting, counselling and inciting people to commit crimes. Dijkstal clarified that aiding refers to providing assistance to someone to commit crimes, and abetting as providing moral and psychological encouragement or sympathy to commit crimes.

Dijkstal further explained that the crimes in the case were categorised into four groups: indiscriminate attacks on civilians, indiscriminate attacks on civilian property, intentional attacks on protected property, and starvation and the denial of humanitarian needs and necessities.

When asked by The New Arab whether South Africa's case against Israel in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) would influence the ICJP's investigation, Dijkstal said that while their filing does not allege genocide, it "covers a wide range of war crimes which touch on some of those aspects in the ICJ". She added that the ICJP would analyse the ICJ case.

"The ICJP is still collating [evidence] to a criminal standard of the crime of genocide and if we get to the point where we feel that we have sufficient evidence to bring that complaint, we will provide that complaint to Scotland Yard and to the International Criminal Court [ICC] for the crime of genocide," Ali said.

Speaking to The New Arab, he confirmed that the ICJP investigation was only at its first stage but "our investigation will continue, and we'll continue to gather more evidence".

Ali noted that the ICJP has found issues with "commentators that are explicitly condoning war crimes or criminal acts in Gaza, and it's really important that those people are held to account for their statements which are encouraging war crimes", although no names were mentioned.

"If there's a decision being made inside these institutions then the ICJP will complain about them. If there is support publicly for these kinds of criminal acts, ICJP will investigate and bring that [to the] attention [of] Scotland Yard," Ali said.

"Where we see evidence of support for war crimes, we will be referring that to Scotland Yard, and it's important we refer that to Scotland Yard and the ICC, because we are not going to be the arbitrators of what actually happened and what is right or wrong. We will leave that to our law enforcement agencies, to the world's law enforcement agencies, and our courts."

The ICJP had previously submitted a number of requests warning about potential complicity in war crimes committed by Israel.

This included sending letters to the UK government, the Labour Party, and well the foreign office over UK nationals fighting in Gaza.