ICC prosecutor says possible ‘crimes’ over Israel-Palestinian clashes

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The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court voiced concern Wednesday at the escalation of violence between Israel and the Palestinians and said “crimes” may have been committed.

“I note with great concern the escalation of violence in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as well as in and around Gaza, and the possible commission of crimes under the Rome Statute,” which founded the ICC, Fatou Bensouda said on Twitter.

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Palestinian militants and the Israeli army exchanged a barrage of deadly fire early Wednesday, after days of clashes that have left at least 40 dead and hundreds injured.

Bensouda announced on March 3 that she had opened a full investigation into the situation in the Israeli-occupied territories, infuriating Israel, which not a member of The Hague-based court, unlike the Palestinian Authority.

That probe will mainly focus on the 2014 Gaza War but also look at the deaths of Palestinian demonstrators from 2018 onwards.

After a five-year preliminary probe, she had said there was “reasonable basis” to believe crimes were committed by both sides -- by the Israeli Defense Forces and Israeli authorities, and by Hamas and Palestinian armed groups.

Bensouda said Wednesday that the ICC investigations “will cover all sides and all the facts and evidence relevant to an assessment of whether there is individual criminal responsibility under the Statute.”

“My Office will continue to monitor developments on the ground and will factor any matter that falls within its jurisdiction.”

The world’s only permanent war crimes tribunal, the ICC was set up in 2002 to try humanity’s worst crimes where local courts are unwilling or unable to step in.

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