[JURIST] Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda [official profile] of the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] on Friday opened a probe into potential war crimes in Palestinian territories. The probe is the first step toward opening an investigation of both Palestine and Israel relating to the Gaza war [CBS backgrounder] last summer, and will analyze information about jurisdiction and potential crimes. The probe comes in the wake of the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s accession [JURIST op-ed] to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court [text, PDF] in order to join the ICC. The decision join the ICC came after a failed attempt on December 30, 2014 to persuade the UN Security Council to accept a resolution [text] to end Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip by 2017. In joining the ICC, the Palestinian Authority accepted the ICC’s authority retroactively through June 13, 2014.
In recent months conflict between Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory have led to the deaths of hundreds of civilians, prompting the UN and the international community to call for an end to the conflict. In November 2014, UN human rights experts suggested [JURIST report] that the Israeli government’s use of house demolition as a punitive measure in response to alleged acts of violence by Palestinians end immediately. In September 2014, UN experts stated [JURIST report] that there has not been a single child in the Gaza Strip area not affected by the ongoing conflict. In March of that year, another UN human rights expert called on Israel [JURIST report] to cease all settlement activity and immediately withdraw settlers from Palestinian territories. Last August, UN Special Rapporteur on the Palestinian Territories occupied since 1967 [official website] formally requested access [JURIST report] to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory to gather first-hand information into the human rights situation in Gaza.