Adalah: ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda made the right decision, we are prepared to submit our legal materials

International Criminal Court chief prosecutor: Israel has been and is continuing to commit war crimes in West Bank – including East Jerusalem – and in Gaza Strip; potential cases would be admissible before ICC; no reason that criminal investigation would not serve the interests of justice.

International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda – the highest legal authority in international criminal law – made a watershed announcement on Friday, 20 December 2019, that Israel has been and is continuing to commit war crimes in the West Bank – including East Jerusalem – and in the Gaza Strip. Bensouda said that potential cases would be admissible before the ICC, and added that there is no reason that a criminal investigation would not serve the interests of justice.


Bensouda made her dramatic statement after conducting a thorough preliminary examination into the situation in Palestine over the past five years. Bensouda asked Palestinian victims and human rights organizations to cooperate with the investigation.


ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda (Photo: ICC)


Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel issued an immediate response on Friday evening:


”Adalah believes that, based upon the numerous reports of human rights organizations and United Nations commissions of inquiry over the years, the ICC prosecutor has made the right decision given the facts. No other decision could have been possible. We welcome her position, and we believe that the ICC has full jurisdiction to decide on the concerned criminal cases. Adalah, as an NGO with expertise in Israeli law that has submitted Israeli Supreme Court petitions and complaints relating to most of Israel’s military operations since 2002 in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, is prepared to submit its legal materials and opinions on these matters”.


For 18 years, since Israel’s 2002 military operation in the occupied West Bank (“Defensive Shield”), Adalah has been documenting facts and challenging Israel’s actions before the Israeli attorney general and the Israeli Supreme Court, and reporting to international expert United Nations commissions of inquiry.


Just days earlier, a United Nations human rights committee called on Israel to “ensure equal treatment for all persons on the territories under its effective control and subject to its jurisdiction” – inside Israel, in the Occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem, and in the blockaded Gaza Strip.


The UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), which reviews states’ compliance with the International Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) – ratified by Israel in 1979 – issued its concluding observations on Israel on 12 December 2019.


CERD is the first of the UN human rights treaty bodies to issue concluding observations that clearly apply to all territories under Israel’s jurisdiction and effective control as a single entity. In the past the UN committees for human rights distinguished between Israeli policies that apply to the OPT from its policies inside Israel, which are based on two different legal systems.


CLICK HERE to read Fatou Bensouda’s full statement


(Photo credit: ICC)