The Palestinian Authority moved to join the International Criminal Court in The Hague on Wednesday, accusing Israel of committing genocide against the Palestinians amid Israel’s military campaign to stem rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas called a crisis meeting of the Palestinian leadership in the afternoon with the intention of signing paperwork to apply to join the ICC in The Hague and other international organizations.
Abbas charged Israel with committing “genocide” in Gaza during its Operation Protective Edge — launched to stem Hamas rocket fire on civilians across Israel — which has so far killed 43 Palestinians.
“It’s genocide — the killing of entire families is genocide by Israel against our Palestinian people,” he told the meeting of Palestinian leadership at his Ramallah bureau. “What’s happening now is a war against the Palestinian people as a whole and not against the [terrorist] factions.”
“Shall we recall Auschwitz?” he added.
“We know that Israel is not defending itself; it is defending settlements, its main project,” Abbas continued. “We are moving in several ways to stop the Israeli aggression and spilling of Palestinian blood, including talking to Egyptian President [Abdel Fattah] el-Sissi and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.”
At the outset of peace negotiations in July 2013 the Palestinians pledged to US Secretary of State John Kerry that they would not apply for membership in international bodies during the nine-month negotiating period in return for the release of 104 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. On April 1, 2014, Abbas surprised Israel by applying for membership in 15 international bodies and treaties, but had so far refrained from joining more robust organizations such as the International Criminal Court, where Palestinians could seek recourse for alleged Israeli war crimes.
Egypt on Wednesday urged Israel and Hamas in Gaza to halt their spiraling conflict but played down hopes of a Cairo-mediated truce.
“There is no mediation, in the common sense of the word,” said Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty.
“Egyptian diplomatic efforts are aimed at immediately stopping Israeli aggression and ending all mutual violence. (Egyptian) contacts have not yet achieved a result.”
Meanwhile, the Palestine Liberation Organization published a special report titled “Israel’s Criminal assault on the occupied State of Palestine – Gaza under fire.”
“The latest Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people aims at targeting Palestinian national unity and weakening Palestinian institutions,” the short document said. “Its methods include the collective punishment of the Palestinian people throughout the occupied West Bank, including Israel, and the Gaza Strip.”
Noting Israeli attacks in Gaza, the PLO charged that “as an occupying power, Israel is required to comply with obligations under international humanitarian law. Nevertheless, it systematically continues to violate its obligations through unrelenting colonization, expropriation and aggression in Palestine.”
The PLO called on the international community to intervene on behalf of the Palestinians.
“The international community is under a moral, political and legal responsibility to protect the Palestinian people and to put an end to Israeli aggression in Palestine,” the report concluded.
Wednesday was the second day of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge. Israeli warplanes have so far hit 550 targets in Gaza. Hamas terrorists have fired 165 rockets into Israel, some of which struck Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and as far away as Hadera and Zichron Yaakov, both about 120 kilometers (75 miles) to the north of the coastal enclave.
Palestinian fatalities have included terrorists but also women and children. More than 370 people have been wounded. Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system has intercepted more than 20 rockets that were heading for residential areas.