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Palestinian rights groups submit evidence of Israeli 'war crimes' in West Bank to ICC

Sept. 21, 2017 1:45 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 7, 2017 9:19 P.M.)
An Israeli Star of David painted on a wall in the West Bank town of Hebron. (MaanImages/Charlie Hoyle/File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Four Palestinian human rights organizations submitted a 700-page communication to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Wednesday, alleging that Israeli officials have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

According to a statement released by Palestinian NGO al-Haq, one of the groups behind the submission -- along with Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), Aldameer Association for Human Rights, and the al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, noted that the communication had addressed issues of Israel’s continuous expansion of its territory and its policies aimed at altering the demographic of the Palestinian territory.

“The Palestinian human rights organisations provide evidence that shows that Israel persecutes the occupied Palestinian population and subjects them to the crimes of persecution and apartheid,” the statement said.

Al-Haq noted that the human rights groups had also addressed the forcible transfer of the Palestinian population, who are considered “protected persons” under international law -- referencing the impending forced relocation of the Bedouin in the West Bank who are in the way of Israel’s illegal settlement expansions in the territory.

Raji Sourani, the director of the PCHR , noted in the statement that the forcible transfer of Palestinians constituted a “unique war crime,” owing to the fact that it is “coupled with the confiscation of massive tracts of Palestinian land, the extensive destruction of Palestinian property, and the tearing apart of the Palestinian social fabric and way of life.”

Sourani added that Israel’s policies in the occupied West Bank were “evidently one of colonization.”

The groups also provided material “on the extensive appropriation and destruction, as well as pillaging of Palestinian property. It also offers evidence on the wilful killing and murder of 300 Palestinians by members of the Israeli forces since 13 June 2014,” adding that this data backs up claims that Israel has implemented a “shoot-to-kill” policy against Palestinians.

“Over the past fifty years Israel has subjected the Palestinian population to a belligerent occupation that deprives them of their fundamental human rights and subjects them to heinous crimes,” Shawan Jabarin, director of al-Haq said in the statement. “The communication to the International Criminal Court offers hope that anybody that commits crimes against Palestinians will be held to account.”

“We are convinced that there can be no lasting and genuine peace without justice,” Jabarin added.

According to the statement, the communication is the fourth to be submitted by these organizations to the ICC regarding Israeli violations of international law. The previous submissions largely dealt with crimes allegedly committed by high-level Israeli officials during the 2014 war on the besieged Gaza Strip, when more than 2,000 Palestinians were killed.

The organizations urged that ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda open a full investigation into Israeli crimes in the occupied territory.

“An investigation is a necessary step towards ending the culture of impunity that has long prevailed in regard to Israeli crimes and to hold high-level political and military officials accountable.” the groups said.
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