As IDF closes some Gaza war cases, Erekat urges ICC to prosecute
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As IDF closes some Gaza war cases, Erekat urges ICC to prosecute

PLO official slams Jewish state for ‘clearing itself of all wrongdoing in investigation conducted by its own colonial regime’

Dov Lieber is The Times of Israel's Arab affairs correspondent.

PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat in his Ramallah office, November 23, 2015. (AFP/Abbas Momani)
PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat in his Ramallah office, November 23, 2015. (AFP/Abbas Momani)

PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat on Thursday reiterated his call on the International Criminal Court in The Hague to prosecute Israel for war crimes, a day after the IDF announced that it would close some investigations from the 2014 Gaza war.

On Wednesday, the IDF’s top judicial official determined that several deadly bombardments in the Strip during the 2014 summer war between Hamas and Israel, including a widely condemned strike near a Rafah school that killed several people, were carried out with proper procedures.

According to a reported released Wednesday, the office of the Military Advocate General “found that the targeting process in question accorded with Israeli domestic law and international law requirements.”

Five criminal investigations were closed and another six cases were resolved, without criminal proceedings, the IDF said in the 21-page report.

Erekat said Thursday that the Palestinians “did not expect anything less than Israel’s justification of war crimes during its last major military attack on Gaza, by clearing itself of all wrongdoing in an investigation conducted by its own colonial regime.”

“To date, we have provided the International Criminal Court with relevant information on Israeli crimes in Gaza,” Erekat said. “However, after Israel’s official position clearing itself of any responsibility and confirming its commitment to the practice of war crimes, we believe it is time for the court to act.”

Shrapnel holes are seen on a decorated wall in the heavily damaged Sobhi Abu Karsh school in Gaza City's Shejaiya neighborhood on Tuesday, August 5, 2014. (photo credit: Mohammed Abed/AFP)
Shrapnel holes are seen on a decorated wall in the heavily damaged Sobhi Abu Karsh school in Gaza City’s Shejaiya neighborhood on Tuesday, August 5, 2014. (photo credit: Mohammed Abed/AFP)

The Palestinian Authority sparked controversy when it joined the ICC in January 2015. Since then, Palestinian officials have repeatedly urged the body to investigate alleged Israeli war crimes from the 2014 Gaza conflict, known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge.

The ICC, the world’s only permanent war crimes court, has opened a preliminary inquiry into possible crimes by both Israel and the Palestinians.

The probe, which the ICC classified as a preliminary investigation, pertains to 66 reports of alleged crimes said to have occurred since June 13, 2014, in and around what the court defines as “Palestine” — a term it applies to the Hamas-run Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Authority’s West Bank, as well as East Jerusalem.

Israeli soldiers inspect the damage caused to a house in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba after it was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip on Thursday, July 10, 2014. (photo credit: Menahem Kahana/AFP)
Israeli soldiers inspect the damage caused to a house in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba after it was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip on Thursday, July 10, 2014. (photo credit: Menahem Kahana/AFP)

Israel, which is not a signatory to the ICC, has vehemently opposed any bid to open a full investigation into any alleged war crimes.

In June, in a seeming about-face, Israel handed over information to the ICC on its 2014 conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Jerusalem, however, quickly issued a statement reiterating its stance that the PA, as a non-state actor, does not have the right to open a case against Israel.

Raoul Wootliff, Judah Ari Gross and AFP contributed to this repot.

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