World court rules it has jurisdiction over war crimes in Palestinian Territories

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The International Criminal Court ruled on Friday that it has jurisdiction over war crimes or atrocities committed in the Palestinian Territories, opening
the door for possible investigations against the objections of Israel.

Judges said their decision was based on jurisdictional rules in the Hague-based court’s founding documents and does not imply any attempt to determine statehood or legal borders.

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Israel, which is not a member of the court, has rejected its jurisdiction.

The court’s prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, said in December 2019 there was “a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.”

She named both the Israeli Defense Forces and armed Palestinian groups such as Hamas as possible perpetrators.

She asked judges to rule on whether the situation fell under the court’s jurisdiction, before a formal investigation would be opened.

In a majority ruling published Friday night, the judges said yes.

“The Court’s territorial jurisdiction in the Situation in Palestine ... extends to the territories occupied by Israel since 1967, namely Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem,” they said.

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