RAMALLAH, Sunday, February 07, 2021 (WAFA) – Palestinian rights groups have welcomed the International Criminal Court's ruling that it has jurisdiction over the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories and called on the court's prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to take swift action.
"A critically important step towards ensuring the rule of law, the decision also marks an important step towards ending impunity, while ensuring the dignity of the Palestinian people," read a statement by rights groups Al-Haq, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights and Al Dameer Association for Human Rights.
"Our Coalition notes that Israel’s subjugation of the protected Palestinian population through raids, arrests and mass incarceration, are inhumane acts of an institutionalised regime of racial domination and oppression, and amount to the crime of apartheid; it is imperative that the Prosecutor include acts of apartheid in the scope of her investigation" the statement added.
General Director of Al-Haq, Shawan Jabareen, stressed the urgency of immediate action: "With this confirmation from the Pre-Trial Chamber, and in the context of ongoing attacks on the collective and individual rights of the Palestinian people and Israel’s national judicial shield of impunity, it is imperative that the Prosecutor immediately moves to begin investigating and prosecuting the full array of international crimes, including war crimes and crimes against humanity, perpetrated in the occupied Palestinian territory."
"Today, after seventy years of ongoing Nakba, Palestinian victims of Israel’s international crimes are one step closer to having their rights vindicated by the International Criminal Court," he continued.
General Director of Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Raji Sourani, recalled that: "The Prosecutor, in her 2020 Report on Preliminary Examination Activities, recognized that there is a reasonable basis to believe that members of the Israeli military had committed the war crimes of wilful killing of unarmed civilian protestors in the Gaza Strip."
He added, "This decision means that the international community will no longer accept Israel’s subjection of Palestinian civilians in Gaza to the inhumane closure and brutal military offensives. Today, hope in the international justice system and the viability of the ICC to continue as an international Court to end impunity for grave crimes that ‘threaten the peace, security and well-being of the world’ has been restored."
General Director of Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Issam Younis, explained that "given the prolonged unlawful closure of the Gaza Strip, and the systematic denial of the right of return to Palestinian refugees and exiles, the ICC ranks amongst the final avenues in which Israel’s pervasive and systemic culture of impunity for grave international crimes and widespread serious human rights violations may be challenged."
"The Prosecutor must now move swiftly to advance the files, including for the full-scale military assault on Gaza in 2014 and regular targeting of Palestinian civilians, including children. Each day of inaction costs Palestinian lives."