Palestinian leaders say they have solid evidence Israel has committed widespread human rights abuses.
Palestinians will hand evidence of alleged Israeli war crimes to the International Criminal Court Thursday as part of a preliminary investigation into the 2014 invasion of Gaza.
“The files to be presented to the court refer to war crimes and crimes committed by individuals of the Israeli leadership,” the Palestinian Liberation Organization said in a statement.
Prominent peace activist Mustafa Barghouthi, head of the Palestine National Initiative, said the files include hundreds of pages of evidence against Israeli forces.
“Our aim is to establish war crimes in order that an investigation by the chief prosecutor’s office is carried out and to remove immunity from Israel and its leaders, achieve justice, apply human rights conventions, protect Palestinians and hold criminals accountable for their crimes,” he said, according to Ma’an News Agency.
The ICC case is still in its early stages, but could potentially lead to indictments against Israeli officials if the court finds evidence of human rights abuses.
The Palestinian submissions to the ICC are unlikely to speed up the court’s preliminary investigation, but could reinforce United Nations allegations of Israeli war crimes during its assault on Gaza last year. Earlier this week a damning U.N. report accused both Hamas and Israel of human rights abuses stemming from the 2014 conflict that left over 2000 people dead – almost all Palestinian civilians.
Israel has disputed the U.N.’s findings and argued Palestinians shouldn’t be entitled to petition the ICC for an investigation, as Palestine isn’t universally recognized as a state. Israeli officials have argued any international investigation into alleged Israeli human rights abuses will undermine peace talks – a stance widely dismissed by both Palestinian leaders and human rights groups.
Yet allegations of Israeli abuses don’t just stem from the Gaza invasion. Many of the documents set to be handed over to the ICC reportedly include details of allegations of Israeli violations of international law in the West Bank. One document alone from the think tank Applied Research Institute includes nearly 500 pages of concerns stemming from Israel’s controversial West Bank settlements. The settlements have been labeled illegal by the U.N., while Palestinians say they are a major hurdle for peace talks.