ICC to open investigations on the situation in Palestine: Justice for Palestinians

International Criminal Court prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, announces that they will open investigations on the situation in Palestine. 

The International Criminal Court’s Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, released a statement on the ICC’s website noting that they will open investigations on the Situation in Palestine: 

“Today, I confirm the initiation by the Office of the Prosecutor (‘Office’) of the International Criminal Court (‘ICC’ or the ‘Court’) of an investigation respecting the Situation in Palestine. The investigation will cover crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court that are alleged to have been committed in the Situation since 13 June 2014, the date to which reference is made in the Referral of the Situation to my Office.” 

The International Criminal Court is located in The Hague, Netherlands, and operates as an independent entity that  prosecutes individuals from member states. It has 15 judges elected for nine-year terms.  

Influential countries in the world that are not part of the ICC include China, the United States, Israel and Russia. A reason why a country may not want to be part of the ICC is that they want jurisdiction over prosecuting their own states’ individuals.

The ICC cannot directly prosecute individuals who committed crimes on nonmember territory. However, the ICC can prosecute individuals from non member states if they committed the crime on ICC member territory. This is important to understand when considering the situation in Palestine. Palestine became a member of the ICC in 2015, while Israel remains a nonmember of the ICC.

If a citizen of Israel commits a war crime or a crime against humanity on Palestinian territory, these acts would give the ICC jurisdiction to prosecute the Israeli citizen. 

The oppression and crimes against humanity that were committed against Palestinians can be traced back over half of a century. Many people are familiar with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Sometimes, it is displayed one-sided and other times it’s portrayed as a two-sided conflict between Palestine and Israel. The occupation of Palestine that results in settlers moving in and the Palestinians being forced out of their homes continues to this day. 

According to Human Rights Watch in “Israel: 50 Years of Occupation Abuses,” Israel revoked 130,000 Palestinians residency in the West Bank, and 14,565 in East Jerusalem. They made 237 settlements in the West Bank which have 580,000 settlers and their troops killed over 2,000 Palestinians in the three Gaza conflicts of 2008, 2012, and 2014. 

An instagram account called @eye.on.palestine, posts frequently of the human rights abuses that the Israeli state commits. The number of children affected by these violations and oppression is alarming.  

The Obama Administration signed a $38 billion military aid pact which gives Israel over $3 billion annually starting in 2019. Palestinian women, children and civilians are harassed by the Israeli Defense Force, soldiers are in their land and their homes were stolen from them.

The 2014 war in Gaza killed many innocent civilians and over 400 Palestinian children. Checkpoints, abusive detentions, killings, beatings, and racism are something that Palestinians living in Palestine go through under the occupation.

Israel has committed countless human rights violations, and this article only lists a few of them. Their treatment of Palestinians is degrading and inhumane. As our new president of the United States, Joe Biden needs to put a halt immediately on money being sent to Israel for the sake of justice worldwide. 

Starting investigations would mean that crimes committed against Palestinians will be seen more as crimes against humanity rather than a two-sided conflict. Seeing this conflict as two-sided takes our focus away from the immense gap of Palestinains versus Israelis affected by this occupation. Yes, all lives are human lives and are important, but we must realize the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. 

The amount of land that Israel occupies and the amount of money it receives from the United States needs to change in order to restore human rights back to Palestinians. The United States needs to immediately stop showing support to Israel. 

Since the United States has a domino effect, other countries may feel obliged to follow along on the boycott of the Israeli government. The U.S. is an influential country to other powers in the world, so if they act upon an issue, other countries are likely to trail behind. 

According to the same article by the Human Rights Watch, 70% of 1.9 million people in Gaza rely on humanitarian aid. The rights of Palestinians are the rights of humans. Awareness needs to start now on the crimes that were committed and how innocent civilians in Palestine face the consequences of the damage that Israel continues to perpetuate.