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ICC prosecutor announces probe into alleged Israeli, Palestinian war crimes

Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda waits for former Congo vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba to enter the court room of the International Criminal Court to stand trial with Aime Kilolo Musamba, Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, Fidele Babala Wandu and Narcisse Arido, on charges including corruptly influencing witnesses by giving them money and instructions to provide false testimony, and presenting false evidence, in The Hague, Netherlands, September 29, 2015. (AP/Peter Dejong)
Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda waits for former Congo vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba to enter the court room of the International Criminal Court to stand trial with Aime Kilolo Musamba, Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, Fidele Babala Wandu and Narcisse Arido, on charges including corruptly influencing witnesses by giving them money and instructions to provide false testimony, and presenting false evidence, in The Hague, Netherlands, September 29, 2015. (AP/Peter Dejong)

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague announces that she will be opening an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by Israel and the Palestinians.

“The investigation will cover crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court that are alleged to have been committed in the Situation since 13 June 2014, the date to which reference is made in the Referral of the Situation to my Office,” says Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in a statement.

The June 13, 2014, date is significant. Palestinian terrorists kidnapped and murdered three Israeli teens in the Gush Etzion area of the West Bank the day before. By asking for an investigation beginning on June 13, the ICC will not look into the killing of Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaer, and Naftali Fraenkel.

“Any investigation undertaken by the Office will be conducted independently, impartially and objectively, without fear or favor,” Bensouda says.

“The decision to open an investigation followed a painstaking preliminary examination undertaken by my Office that lasted close to five years,” she adds.

In February, a pre-trial chamber of the ICC determined that The Hague has jurisdiction to open a criminal investigation into Israel and the Palestinians for war crimes alleged to have taken place in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, paving the way for a full investigation after a five-year preliminary probe opened by Bensouda.

Bensouda indicated in 2019 that a criminal investigation, if approved, would focus on the 2014 Israel-Hamas conflict (Operation Protective Edge), on Israeli settlement policy and on the Israeli response to protests at the Gaza border. The probe will also likely focus on accusations of war crimes by the Hamas terror group against Israeli civilians.

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