Palestinians ask ICC to investigate Israel human rights violations

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Palestinians ask ICC to investigate Israel human rights violations

The Palestinian foreign minister asked the International Criminal Court on Tuesday to open an "immediate investigation" into alleged Israeli "crimes" committed against the Palestinian people.

The Foreign Ministry described in a press statement the submission of the referral as "an important and historic step towards justice for the Palestinian people, who continue to suffer from ongoing, widespread and systematic crimes".

The protests had coincided with the 70th anniversary of Israel's establishment in 1948 - an event Palestinians refer to as the "The Catastrophe" - and the relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, which took place the same day.

Israel intentionally targeted Palestinian protesters near the Gaza-Israel security fence last week, Pierre Krahenbuhl, head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), said Tuesday.

Alex Whiting, a professor at Harvard Law School and former ICC prosecutor, said the Palestinian referral would have a "real effect".

Palestine exercised its right as a State Party to the Rome Statute - the treaty that established the ICC - to refer the situation in the region to the worldwide tribunal.

The ICC has been conducting a preliminary inquiry since 2015 in the Palestinian territories, including Israel's settlement policy and crimes allegedly committed by both sides in the 2014 Gaza conflict.

The Palestinians appear to have an especially strong case in the matter of settlements.

Instead, the PA largely relied on the prosecutor to open an investigation on her own accord, which delays the prospects of opening an investigation. While it would not force Ms Bensouda to begin an investigation, it would make it much harder to stay in the preliminary examination phase, he explained on Twitter.

The reasons behind the PA's decision not to make such a move earlier, she explained, were linked to how approximately "one million Palestinians" were on the PA's payroll, adding that "international donors have also played a role in making it clear that they will not support a PA that is actually defending Palestinian rights". The ICC recognizes "Palestine" as a member state.

A four-ship Freedom Flotilla has set sail for the Gaza Strip to challenge Israel's decade-old blockade of the besieged territory.

Israel called the move "cynical" and claimed the request to the ICC has no legal validity.

The referral also mentions that the state of Palestine accepted ICC's jurisdiction in 2014, asserted the foreign minister.

The Palestinian foreign minister told a room full of reporters it was "a test the ICC can not afford to fail", and said "the State of Palestine is seeking justice and redress, not revenge". He said a "new and young generation of Palestinians is aware of their rights and has no intention to withdraw or compromise".

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