[JURIST] Israel has decided to open a dialogue with the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] on an investigation into Israel’s conduct in the Gaza Strip last summer according to a Thursday report [Haaretz report] by Israeli newspaper Haaretz. An unnamed Israeli official told Haaretz that the ICC has no authority to hear the Palestinian claim because Palestine is not a country and the Israeli judicial system is independent and can handle cases involving alleged war crimes. The purpose of the preliminary examination is to determine if there is a reasonable basis to the claim that crimes have been committed that are within the court’s authority to investigate. If the ICC pursues a full investigation, it could look into Palestinian actions as well. Both Israel and the US are not members of the ICC.
On December 31, 2014, the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas [BBC backgrounder] signed the Rome Statute [text, pdf] and issued a declaration stating the Palestinians recognize the ICC’s authority to examine the possibility that war crimes had been committed on Palestinian soil. In January, Bensouda announced a preliminary investigation into the claim and on April 1 Palestine’s membership to the ICC became official. 2014 proved to be one of the most intense periods of violence for the Israel-PaleIn November the UN Human Rights Committee urged Israel to investigate [JURIST report] alleged violations committed by its forces during the recent conflict in Gaza. The 2014 conflict lasted from July 8 to August 26, resulting in more than 2,100 deaths, with a high quantity of civilian casualties. In September, Human Rights Watch accused the Israeli military of committing war crimes [JURIST report] by attacking schools where hundreds of displaced Palestinians sought shelter.