ICC opens probe into Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Israel attacks the ICC move as ‘scandalous,’ motivated by ‘anti-Israel considerations’

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The International Criminal Court (ISIS) said Friday it was opening a preliminary investigation into possible war crimes in the Palestinian territories, triggering a backlash from Israel, which described the decision as “scandalous.”

ICC prosecutors said in a statement that they seek to examine “in full independence and impartiality” crimes that may have occurred since June 13 last year. This allows the court to delve into the war between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza in July-August 2014 during which more than 2,100 Palestinians and 73 Israelis were killed, according to Reuters.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in a statement said the sole purpose of the preliminary examination is to "try to harm Israel's right to defend itself from terror."

He said the decision was "solely motivated by political anti-Israel considerations," adding that he would recommend against cooperating with the probe.

Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki welcomed the move.

"Everything is going according to plan, no state and nobody can now stop this action we requested," he told AFP. "In the end, a full investigation will follow the preliminary one."

Lieberman, for his part, accused the court of double standards for not examining the mass killings in Syria or other conflict zones, investigating instead "the most moral army in the world."

The foreign minister also said he would act to "dismantle this court, a body that represents hypocrisy and gives terror a tailwind."

The Palestinians formally joined the ICC earlier this month, allowing it to lodge war crimes and crimes against humanity complaints against Israel as of April.

At the same time, the Palestinians also recognized the ICC's jurisdiction retroactively, to cover last summer's Israel-Hamas war in Gaza that killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians and 73 Israelis.

[With AFP and Reuters]