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PA accumulates official reports for ICC

May 14, 2015 11:16 A.M. (Updated: May 14, 2015 2:36 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) – The documentation necessary for Palestine to bring Israel to the International Criminal Court will be approved before the end of 2015, says the ambassador of Palestine to Switzerland.

Documentation will include reports regarding illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied Palestinian territories, the Israeli military offensives against the Gaza Strip, among others to be submitted when the Palestinian Authority decides to go to ICC, Ibrahim Khreisha said Wednesday.

After decades of failed negotiations with Israel and no prospect of achieving statehood anytime soon, Palestinian leadership has been waging a campaign for recognition at international bodies including the ICC, where leaders hope Palestinians may gain justice against alleged war crimes committed by Israel.

Khreisha highlighted to Ma'an that the United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Israeli military offensive on Gaza would submit its final report to the UN Human Rights Council by the end of May.

Furthermore, added Khreisha, a World Health Organization committee has already submitted the results of an investigation into Israeli health violations of Palestinians.

The report includes details on Israeli prevention of shipment of medicine and medical equipment into the occupied Palestinian territories, as well as accounts of Israeli prevention of patients from travelling abroad for treatment.

"This report is additional evidence documenting Israeli violations of Palestinian rights and it will be ready for use at ICC," according to Khreisha.

A report on losses sustained by the Palestinian economy from the Israeli occupation since 1967, prepared by the UN Conference on Trade and Development, will also be included, the ambassador said.

Khereisha pointed out that chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Fatou Bensouda has asked Israel to respond to reports submitted so far by human rights groups and civil society organizations.

"According to Article 12 of Rome Statute, the chief prosecutor is authorized to verify any information or testimonies the ICC prosecution receives about crimes, then she refers the information to five judges who also verify the claims, and if they approve them, accusation will be leveled to the parties and they will be summoned to the ICC for questioning," explained Khereisha.

ICC chief prosecutor Bensouda said in April she is also weighing opening war crimes investigations into Palestinians, after Palestine joined the tribunal's jurisdiction last month.

A UN report released earlier this month found Israel responsible for seven deadly strikes on UN schools used as shelters during the conflict, but also found that Palestinian militants had used vacant schools as weapons stores and possibly also as firing positions.

Hamas leadership has welcomed any future ICC probes, senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya saying, "War crimes have clear specifications, according to the Rome Statute, that do not in any way apply to the Palestinian resistance, which was, is, and will defend its people."
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