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Palestinians to Approach International Court in April

by AFP
Ahmad Gharabli—AFP

Ahmad Gharabli—AFP

Israel dismisses declaration, claiming it is ‘speculative and hypothetical.’

The Palestinians will formally approach the International Criminal Court on April 1 to complain about alleged Israeli war crimes in Gaza and settlement activity, a senior official said.

“One of the first important steps will be filing a complaint against Israel at the International Criminal Court on April 1 over the [2014] Gaza war and settlement activity,” said Mohammed Shtayyeh, a member of Fatah, the main faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

On Jan. 2, the Palestinians moved to join the Hague-based court in a process which is due to take effect on April 1, setting the scene for potential legal action against Israeli officials for alleged war crimes. Israel reacted furiously, and quickly moved to cut off millions of dollars in monthly tax payments it collects on behalf of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, exacerbating an already severe financial crisis.

There was no immediate response from Israel, with foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon refusing to react to a declaration, which he described as “speculative and hypothetical.”

Last month, the Israeli army’s top legal officer, Major General Dan Efrony, said he was unconcerned by Palestinian plans at the ICC. Efrony said the military was running 15 criminal investigations of its own stemming from the 50-day war, expressing confidence they would head off a parallel probe by the Hague-based court.

On Jan. 16, the Court announced “a preliminary examination” into Israel’s actions over a period beginning in June, which included last year’s war in Gaza.

About 2,200 Palestinians and 73 Israelis were killed during the conflict in July and August, with U.N. figures indicating most of the victims were civilians.

The Palestinians are also planning to sue Israel over its policy of settlement building on land they want for a future state. Under international law, all Israeli construction on land seized during the 1967 Six-Day War is viewed as illegal and a major stumbling block to efforts to end the decades-long conflict.

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