Demonstrators carry banners and Palestinian flags outside the International Criminal Court, ICC, urging the court to prosecute Israel's army for war crimes in The Hague, Netherlands, Nov. 29, 2019.
Demonstrators carry banners and Palestinian flags outside the International Criminal Court, ICC, urging the court to prosecute Israel's army for war crimes in The Hague, Netherlands, Nov. 29, 2019.

JERUSALEM - Israel has rejected a decision by the International Criminal Court in the Hague to launch an investigation into whether Israel committed war crimes in the Gaza Strip. A court prosecutor said she also might investigate Hamas, which rules Gaza. Israel says the ICC has no jurisdiction because Palestine is not a state.

The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor said she believes there is enough evidence to launch an investigation into whether Israel committed war crimes in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

Fatou Bensouda's decision came after more than four years of investigation following a Palestinian request into Israel's conduct.

"In brief I am satisfied that 1:  war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip; 2: that potential cases arising from this situation would be admissible; and 3: that there are no substantial reasons to believe that such an investigation would not serve the interests of justice," said Bensouda.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed the decision.

He called it a great day and said it means the court will begin accepting Palestinian requests to try Israeli political and military officials.

A spokesman for Hamas also welcomed the decision, apparently ignoring the part of Bensouda's decision that she intends to investigate Hamas war crimes as well.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted harshly to Bensouda's decision.

"This is a dark day for truth and justice. The ICC Prosecutor has apparently decided not to dismiss outright the Palestinian claim against the state of Israel. This is a baseless and outrageous decision," he said.

Netanyahu said the ICC does not have jurisdiction because Palestine is not a state.

"The ICC only has jurisdiction over petitions submitted by sovereign states, but there's never been a Palestinian state. The ICC prosecutor's decision has turned the ICC into a political tool to delegitimize the state of Israel," he said.

Prosecutor Bensouda said she had asked three ICC judges to rule on the question of whether the court has jurisdiction.

 

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