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ICC intends to open investigation into Israeli crimes

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor has said that she intends to open an investigation into alleged war crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Fatou Bensouda said in a statement that “war crimes” had been or were being committed in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, east Jerusalem and the embattled Gaza Strip, and asked for a ruling on the court’s territorial jurisdiction.

The ICC has been examining a case brought by the Palestinians since 2015.

Israel does not want the ICC to take such move and has verbally attacked the court several times.

In a statement, Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu said the ICC, of which Israel is not a member, had “no jurisdiction in this case,” and that the decision had turned the Hague-based court into a “political tool to delegitimize the state of Israel”.

In her ruling, Bensouda said a preliminary examination had gathered enough information to meet all criteria to open an investigation, and that she was satisfied that there was a reasonable basis to proceed with an inquiry.

“There are no substantial reasons to believe that an investigation would not serve the interests of justice,” she said, adding that she had filed a request with judges to rule on what territory a future inquiry would cover because of the contested legal and factual issues of the territories.

It was not clear when a decision would be made but Bensouda said she had asked the judges to “rule expeditiously” so that her office “can take the appropriate next steps accordingly”.

Bensouda did not specify the perpetrators of the alleged crimes but, if she proceeds with her investigation, charges might be filed against Israelis and Palestinians, according to BBC.

However BBC said that the chief prosecutor focused her preliminary inquiries, in a case the Palestinians brought under the State of Palestine, on issues like Israel’s building of settlements and its military operations in Gaza.