Palestinians urge International Criminal Court probe into Israeli actions

The International Criminal Court has been asked to open an "immediate investigation" into alleged Israeli crimes against the Palestinians.

Palestinian foreign minister Riad Malki said he submitted the "referral" to the court during a meeting with the ICC's chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, in The Hague on Tuesday.

Mr Malki said the complaint seeks an investigation into Israeli policies in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem since the state of Palestine joined the ICC in June 2014.

He said this includes Israeli settlement policies as well as the recent violence in Gaza, where Israeli fire killed over 100 Gazans during protests along the Israeli border.

Mr Malki said: "There is a culture of impunity in Israel for crimes against Palestinians.

"This referral is Palestine's test to the international mechanism of accountability and respect for international law."

Conflict between Palestinian protesters and Israeli military at the Gaza Strip on Thursday. Photo: Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images.

The ICC has been conducting a preliminary probe since 2015 into alleged crimes in the Palestinian territories.

It includes Israel's settlement policy and crimes allegedly committed by both sides in the 2014 Gaza conflict.

The new request comes with Israeli-Palestinian relations at their lowest point in years in the aftermath of the US embassy move to Jerusalem and the recent bloodshed on the Gaza border.

Israel has said it was defending its border and accused Gaza's ruling Hamas militant group using the unrest to carry out attempted attacks and of using civilians as human shields.

In response to Tuesday's move at the ICC, Israel said it took a "severe view" of the Palestinian request, calling it a "cynical" and "absurd" step.

It accused the Palestinians of violent incitement against Israel and exploiting women and children as human shields.

Israel also said the ICC had no jurisdiction in the case because Israel is not a member of the court.

"Israel expects the ICC and its prosecutor not to yield to Palestinian pressure, and stand firm against continued Palestinian efforts to politicise the court and to derail it from its mandate," it said.

Israel is not a member of the ICC, but its citizens can be charged by the court if they are suspected of committing crimes on the territory or against a national of a country that is a member. The ICC has recognised "Palestine" as a member state.

While the ICC can indict suspects, it has no police force and has to rely on co-operation from member states to enforce arrest warrants.

- PA


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