[News] ICC warns Israeli leaders over Gaza killings

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Apr 9 11:57:17 EDT 2018


  ICC warns Israeli leaders over Gaza killings

Ali Abunimah <https://electronicintifada.net/people/ali-abunimah> - 8 
April 2018


The International Criminal Court 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/international-criminal-court> has 
issued an unprecedented warning that Israeli leaders may face trial for 
the killings of unarmed Palestinian protesters in the Gaza Strip.

“Since 30 March 2018, at least 27 Palestinians have been reportedly 
killed by the Israeli Defence Forces, with over a thousand more injured, 
many, as a result of shootings using live ammunition and rubber 
bullets,” Fatou Bensouda 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/fatou-bensouda>, the ICC’s chief 
prosecutor, stated on 
<https://www.icc-cpi.int/Pages/item.aspx?name=180408-otp-stat> Sunday.

“Violence against civilians – in a situation such as the one prevailing 
in Gaza – could constitute crimes under the Rome Statute of the 
International Criminal Court, as could the use of civilian presence for 
the purpose of shielding military activities,” Bensouda said.

    Statement of #ICC
    Prosecutor #FatouBensouda
    regarding the worsening situation in Gaza: " The resort to violence
    must stop" https://t.co/npthwrsQrf

    — Int'l Criminal Court (@IntlCrimCourt) April 8, 2018

“Any person who incites or engages in acts of violence including by 
ordering, requesting, encouraging or contributing in any other manner to 
the commission of crimes within ICC’s jurisdiction is liable to 
prosecution before the court,” Bensouda added.

Bensouda’s reference to using civilians for “shielding military 
activities” appears to be a nod to Israel’s claims that the Great March 
of Return <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/great-march-return> mass 
rallies organized by Palestinians over the last two Fridays along Gaza’s 
boundary with Israel are a Hamas 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/hamas> ploy to shield “terrorist” 

However, as an investigation by Human Rights Watch 
determined, and observations 
<https://twitter.com/rafsanchez/status/982252986553450498> by 
journalists have confirmed, there have been no such “military 
activities” by Palestinians taking part in the demonstrations.

The festival-like 
rallies have brought out tens of thousands demanding an end to Israel’s 
blockade <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/gaza-siege> of Gaza and 
the right of return for refugees 

    Over the course of several hours at the #Gaza
    border today and Thurs, I haven't seen any protesters with guns or
    Molotov cocktails.

    I've seen a tiny handful - single digits among thousands of young
    men - with axes, knives or heavy shears for cutting the fence.

    — Raf Sanchez (@rafsanchez) April 6, 2018

No Israelis have been reported injured as a result of the Palestinian 
protests in Gaza.

But what is not in doubt is that Israeli leaders have ordered the 
targeting of unarmed civilian protesters in what Human Rights Watch 
“calculated” killings of people who posed no threat whatsoever.

    HRW’s @OmarSShakir
    <https://twitter.com/OmarSShakir?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw>: “The Israeli
    forces treated the buffer zone as the “free-fire zone”
    https://t.co/FSkMibDsEp pic.twitter.com/rsLGSGvEp5

    — Carbonated.TV (@CarbonatedTV) April 7, 2018

Three of those slain have been children.

    Our investigation confirms Israeli forces killed 13-year-old Hussein
    Mohammad Adnan Madi in Gaza yesterday around 4 pm local time. He
    sustained a gunshot wound to the abdomen & was later pronounced dead
    at Shifa hospital. #GazaReturnMarch
    pic.twitter.com/TJfsnVqvU3 <https://t.co/TJfsnVqvU3>

    — Defense for Children (@DCIPalestine) April 7, 2018

    Yesterday, Israeli forces shot & killed 15-year-old Aladdin Yahia
    Ismail Zamili in Gaza around 6 pm local time. He sustained a gunshot
    wound to the neck and was later pronounced dead at Youssef Al-Najjar
    hospital in Rafah. #GazaReturnMarch
    pic.twitter.com/xJb918JeMa <https://t.co/xJb918JeMa>

    — Defense for Children (@DCIPalestine) April 7, 2018

    Israeli forces shot dead Ibrahim Abu Sha'er on March 30.
    @DCIPalestine <https://twitter.com/DCIPalestine?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw>
    investigations confirmed he was 17 years old when he was killed, not
    22 years as reported by news media. Under international law, any
    person below 18 years is considered a child. #GazaReturnMarch
    pic.twitter.com/G9j6kILNQk <https://t.co/G9j6kILNQk>

    — Defense for Children (@DCIPalestine) April 6, 2018

In advance of this Friday’s demonstrations, the Israeli human rights 
group B’Tselem had warned soldiers 
that they would be committing crimes if they obeyed “patently illegal” 
orders to shoot unarmed civilians.

    Yesterday, yet again, the Israeli military used lethal force with no
    justification in Gaza. Shooting live ammunition at unarmed
    protesters who pose no threat is immoral, and a command ordering it
    is manifestly illegal. Israeli policy makers must change these
    orders immediately.

    — B'Tselem בצלם بتسيلم (@btselem) April 7, 2018

    We reiterate our appeal to Israeli soldiers to refuse to abide by
    patently unlawful orders to use lethal force against unarmed
    protesters in Gaza. The dangerous assertions made by Minister
    Lieberman, implying Gazan protestors are legitimate target, evince
    disdain for basic morals https://t.co/F9ZlxcdP6S

    — B'Tselem בצלם بتسيلم (@btselem) April 8, 2018

Israeli snipers stationed along the boundary with Gaza killed nine 
on Friday.

Breaking ranks with the European Union, which is still 
to condemn Israel’s actions, France on Saturday condemned 
Israel’s “indiscriminate fire” against Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

    Territoires palestiniens - bande de Gaza
    9 morts et plusieurs centaines de blessés causés par la répression
    des manifestations. La France réprouve à nouveau les tirs
    indiscriminés de l’armée israélienne. La lumière doit être faite sur
    ces graves événements.https://t.co/xaax1Y9N5o

    — France Diplomatie🇫🇷 (@francediplo) April 7, 2018

But despite such warnings, Israeli leaders have refused to change their 
live-fire orders, and have repeatedly commended their soldiers for the 

    "I think the division and the forces of the Southern Command
    fulfilled their mission in an impressive way." - Maj. Gen. Eyal
    Zamir, Commanding Officer of the Southern Command
    pic.twitter.com/vIZMffPybY <https://t.co/vIZMffPybY>

    — IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) April 6, 2018

    Re: killing of 31 Palestinians & wounding of more than 1,000 from
    live fire in Gaza #GreatReturnMarch
    Israeli army (women) scouts say they have "followed every
    'terrorist' for 5 hours before deciding to shoot

    — Asaf Ronel (@AsafRonel) April 7, 2018

On Sunday, defense minister Avigdor Lieberman declared in effect that 
all two million of Gaza’s residents are legitimate targets, telling 
Israeli media 
that “in the march of terror there were no innocent civilians, they were 
all Hamas members.”

According to /The Times of Israel/ 
Lieberman “later clarified that his use of the Hebrew word /tamim/ was 
intended to mean not ‘innocent,’ but ‘naive.’”

His walking back the comment is not surprising since such statements can 
be used as evidence of intent in any international criminal trial.

Lieberman had been slamming calls to investigate the killing of 
journalist Yaser Murtaja 
who was fatally shot while wearning a vest clearly marked with the word 
“Press” on Friday.

“We have seen dozens of cases of Hamas activists [who] were disguised as 
medics and journalists,” Lieberman claimed 

“We also saw a journalist approach the border and operate a drone, we do 
not take chances in those cases,” he added, an assertion which the 
Israel military has found no evidence 
to support.

    Oh & @IDFSpokesperson
    <https://twitter.com/IDFSpokesperson?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw> has a new
    reason why a sniper killed journalist Yaser Murtaja: he was
    activating a drone.
    BTW, not that it should be a capital offence, but all eye witnesses
    of the moment he was shot say he wasn't activating any

    — Asaf Ronel (@AsafRonel) April 8, 2018

    Israeli Forces Continue to Target Journalists Despite “PRESS”-Marked
    https://t.co/HEK9fgzmdJ pic.twitter.com/WIJIw4fsNM

    — Al Mezan Center (@AlMezanCenter) April 9, 2018

    Head of Reporters Without Borders says death of Gaza journalist shot
    by Israel was “deliberate” https://t.co/meyatCovXw

    — Joe (@joedyke) April 7, 2018

At the rallies the week before Murtaja’s slaying, Israeli forces injured 
10 journalists 
including several with live ammunition, according to the Committee to 
Protect Journalists.

Despite Lieberman’s objections, the Israeli army on Sunday named one of 
its own generals 
to investigate its actions that have led to the killings of Palestinians 
in Gaza, including of Murtaja.

But such military self-investigations have historically been 
nothing more than whitewashes 
that have served to bolster Israeli impunity and deter investigation by 
the ICC 

This is why the ICC prosecutor’s statement carries particular 
significance, since the international court is only mandated to step in 
when national judicial authorities are unwilling or unable to carry out 
genuine proceedings 

In her statement Sunday, Bensouda noted “the situation in Palestine is 
under preliminary examination by my office.” That is the procedure by 
which the prosecutor decides whether to open a formal investigation that 
could lead to indictments.

But the open-ended preliminary examination has been going on for years 
with Bensouda appearing to drag her feet.

In a case related to Israel’s 2010 attack on a flotilla to Gaza, 
Bensouda has acknowledged 
that Israeli forces likely committed war crimes in international waters, 
but she has nonetheless declined to open a formal investigation.

The lawyers for the families of those killed when Israeli commandos 
stormed the /Mavi Marmara/ have accused Bensouda’s office of going “out 
of its way to sidestep having to launch any real investigation at the 
international level, knowing full well that the national [Israeli] 
authorities are not investigating these crimes.”

Since its founding, the ICC has lost much credibility because of its 
exclusive focus 
on prosecuting Africans, despite the fact that the 1998 Rome Statute 
<http://legal.un.org/icc/statute/99_corr/cstatute.htm> mandates the 
court to “put an end to impunity” for the gravest crimes no matter where 
they are committed.

Palestinians are planning more mass rallies in Gaza in the weeks leading 
up to Nakba Day <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/nakba-day> – the 15 
May annual commemoration of the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

It remains to be seen if Bensouda’s warning will deter Israeli leaders 
from further slaughter and if the court will finally move to end the 
impunity Israel has enjoyed for decades.

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