Palestinians submit Israeli war crimes files to ICC

Malki: Achieving justice is essential for the Palestinian victims, dead and alive

RAMALLAH - The Palestinian Authority on Thursday submitted a first dossier of evidence to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in support of its campaign to have Israel investigated for alleged war crimes.
"The state of Palestine has pledged to cooperate with the court including by providing it with relevant information and it is fulfilling its pledge today," Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki told journalists after leaving the court.
"The information provided by the state of Palestine make a compelling case for the prompt opening of an investigation," Malki added.
ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in January launched a preliminary probe to see whether there was enough evidence for a full-blown war crimes investigation into last year's conflict in the Gaza Strip between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas.
The documents handed over on Thursday consist of two files: one about alleged Israeli crimes committed in Gaza during the 50-day war in July and August last year that killed 2,200 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 73 Israelis, mostly soldiers.
The other file deals with Israel's occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including "information about the issue of Palestinian prisoners," the Palestinian mission in The Hague said.
"Achieving justice is essential for the Palestinian victims, dead and alive," said Malki. "Palestine has chosen to seek justice not vengeance, this is why we are here today."
- 'Counterproductive' -
Israel, which has not signed up to the ICC, has vehemently opposed the Palestinians attempt to trigger an investigation.
Reacting to Thursday's move by the Palestinian Authority, Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said it was "nothing more than an attempt to manipulate the ICC", adding "we hope that the prosecutor will not fall into the trap."
The United States, which is also not a signatory to the ICC, also condemned the Palestinian initiative.
The US has "made clear that we oppose actions against Israel at the ICC as counterproductive," National Security Council spokesman Alistair Baskey said.
Thursday's submission is part of an increased focus on diplomatic manoeuvring by the Palestinians, who have been frustrated with the lack of progress in ending the Israeli occupation and creating their own independent state.
The Palestinian Authority ratified the statute creating the International Criminal Court in January.
Its submission of evidence comes three days after the release of a UN report that said both Israel and Palestinian militants may have committed war crimes during the 2014 Gaza conflict.
Bensouda has warned that both sides to the Gaza war could face war crimes charges in the case.
Among the more controversial events of the conflict was Israel's bombing of UN schools being used as shelters for the displaced.
Israel said it was forced to carry out the strikes, claiming Hamas used them to store weapons or fire rockets at Israel.
The ICC was set up in 2002 to investigate and try those responsible for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, where national authorities cannot or will not prosecute.