The crisis between Israel and Palestinian authority is widening day by day:
An initial inquiry could lead to war crimes charges against Israel, whether relating to the recent Gaza war or its 47-year-long occupation of the West Bank. It also occupied Gaza from 1967-2005. Palestinians seek statehood in the two territories.
ICC membership also exposes the Palestinians to prosecution, possibly for rocket attacks on Israel by militant groups operating out of Gaza.
The ICC, the world’s first permanent war crimes tribunal, is the court of last resort for its 122 member states, aiming to hold the powerful accountable for the most heinous crimes when national authorities are unable or unwilling to act.
The Palestinians say Israel committed war crimes when it carried out air strikes and an invasion of Gaza, which left more than 2,100 Palestinians dead. The UN says most of those killed were civilians. Tens of thousands of homes in Gaza were also destroyed or badly damaged.
On the Israeli side, 67 soldiers and six civilians were killed by militant attacks in the conflict, which began in July and ended with a ceasefire in August.
The Palestinians will formally join the ICC on 1 April – 90 days after they submitted documents requesting membership.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has slammed the decision by the International Criminal Court to launch a preliminary investigation into possible war crimes in the Palestinian territories, saying it is “absurd”.
Speaking in West Jerusalem on Saturday, a day after the decision was made, Netanyahu said:
“It’s absurd of the ICC to ignore international law and agreements under which the Palestinians don’t have a state and can only get one through direct negotiations with Israel. The rules of the ICC are clear: No state, no standing, no case.”
The preliminary probe does not mean war crimes were committed but will seek to determine whether preliminary findings merit a full investigation into alleged atrocities, which could result in charges being brought against individuals in either Israeli or Palestinian territories.
Other stories from Aljazeera:
- Political bickering stalls Gaza rebuilding
Gaza City – Inside the el-Sheikh Radwan warehouse in Gaza City, thousands of bags of cement are piled high on wooden pallets.
Outside, a handful of residents wait with horse-drawn carts, hoping their names are on a list of people approved to buy cement to fix their homes. But lately, not much cement has been moving, warehouse manager Sami Abu Obaid told Al Jazeera.