Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Amnesty criticizes prosecutor ICC to not investigate Operation Cast Lead in Gaza
The International Criminal Court will not investigate Israel's conduct during its December 2008 offensive on Gaza because Palestine is not a state, the world prosecutor said Tuesday.
In a statement, the ICC prosecutor acknowledged that over 130 countries and some UN bodies recognize Palestine as a state. But, Palestine still holds observer status in the UN, and so the ICC cannot at this time investigate allegations of war crimes committed on Palestinian territory, the prosecutor said.
Amnesty International said the ICC's decision meant victims of Israel's war on Gaza were likely to be denied justice. The prosecutor's decision opened the ICC to accusations of political bias, it added.
The rights group said ICC judges should decide on the court's jurisdiction. It said the prosecutor had "dodged the question," after considering it for three years.
"For the past three years, the prosecutor has been considering the question of whether the Palestinian Authority is a "state" that comes under the jurisdiction of the ICC and whether the ICC can investigate crimes committed during the 2008-9 conflict in Gaza and southern Israel," said Marek Marczynski, head of Amnesty International’s International Justice campaign.
"Now, despite Amnesty International’s calls and a very clear requirement in the ICC’s statute that the judges should decide on such matters, the Prosecutor has erroneously dodged the question, passing it to other political bodies," he added.
Most of the 1,400 Palestinians killed in Operation Cast Lead were civilians.
According to UN figures, Israel's military destroyed over 3,500 residential homes and made 20,000 people homeless during the 22-day assault.
A UN fact-finding mission tasked with investigating allegations of war crimes found that Israel committed "grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention in respect of willful killings and willfully causing great suffering to protected persons."