ICC probing 66 reports of alleged war crimes by Israel, Palestinians

(JTA) – The International Criminal Court (ICC) published an interim report on its investigation of alleged war crimes last year by Israeli troops, Jewish settlers and Palestinian terrorist groups.

The report published Nov. 12 on the website of the United Nations tribunal on war crimes in The Hague said its prosecutor’s office was “in the process of conducting a thorough factual and legal assessment of the information available, in order to establish whether there is a reasonable basis to believe that crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court have been or are being committed.”

The probe, which the ICC classified as a preliminary investigation, pertains to 66 reports of alleged crimes said to have occurred since June 13, 2014 in and around what the court defines as “Palestine” – a term it applies to the Hamas-run Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Authority’s West Bank, as well as eastern Jerusalem.

One of the Israeli objections to the ICC investigation is that its June 13 remit falls after the murder of three Israeli teenagers, considered by Israel to be a justification for the hostilities.

In the contextual background section of the interim report, the prosecutors notes that “three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered in the West Bank” before Israel launched a search operation that ended in the retrieval of their bodies.

The contextual section also notes that on July 7, Israel commenced operation “Protective Edge” in the Gaza Strip. In Gaza, “all parties are alleged to have committed war crimes during the 51-day conflict,” the interim report states. It counts 2,000 Palestinians, including over 1,000 civilians, and over 70 Israelis, including six civilians, who were killed in that round of hostilities.

On the Israeli side, attacks by the Israel Defense Forces were “allegedly directed against civilian residential buildings and infrastructure, U.N. facilities, hospitals, paramedics and ambulances, and further included allegedly indiscriminate attacks in densely populated civilian neighborhoods.”

Under “alleged crimes by Palestinian armed groups” the report lists UN reports that “Palestinian armed groups allegedly indiscriminately fired 4,881 rockets and 1,753 mortars towards Israel.”

Additionally, alleged violence by Israeli settlers is also being looked into, read the report, which does not specify a deadline for the completion of the investigation.

Preliminary probes by the ICC elsewhere have gone on for months and sometimes years before their conclusion.

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