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Three ways Palestinians can hold Israel accountable for Gaza war crimes

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Since the first Israeli bombs destroyed Palestinian homes as part of the military’s recent attack on Gaza, accusations of Israeli war crimes have been aired by numerous human rights groups.

Human Rights Watch, for instance, has documented Palestinian civilians’ testimony of being fired on and killed while fleeing Khuza’a, a village near the line separating Israel from Gaza. The United Nations Human Rights Council has established an inquiry to look into claims of war crimes on both sides.

But the burning question is whether the Israeli soldiers or commanders responsible for the alleged crimes will be held accountable. It’s not likely to come from within the Israeli court system. Requests for compensation from Israeli civil courts are usually unsuccessful. Israel’s military does investigate specific allegations of war crimes, but according to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, “there is currently no official body in Israel capable of conducting independent investigations of suspected violations of international humanitarian law.” After Israel’s 2009 attack on Gaza, only four soldiers were convicted of war crimes, with the harshest punishment–seven months in jail–served because of credit card theft.

While the prospects for accountability are slim, there are three separate paths Palestinians and their supporters can walk on to pursue justice. Here’s an explanation of them.

1. International Criminal Court

This is the nuclear option for Palestinians–and one the Palestinian Authority (PA) has so far resisted since the 2012 United Nations vote granting Palestine observer state status in the international body. That vote gave the observer state the power to give the ICC jurisdiction over crimes committed on Palestinian territory. (Before the UN vote, the ICC announced they had no jurisdiction over crimes on Palestinian territory because it couldn’t decide whether Palestine was a state.) The Palestinians haven’t exercised that power yet. The United States and Israel are strongly opposed to a PA bid to accede to the Rome statute, the treaty that established the ICC. The court was founded in 2002 to prosecute individuals responsible for serious crimes violating international law.

The Palestinians have slowly begun to take steps towards signing the treaty. As Mondoweiss’ Allison Deger noted, Palestinian officials have drafted letters to accede to the Rome statute. Another option is that Palestinian officials could also file a declaration seeking the ICC’s jurisdiction, a move that previously failed because of their non-state status.  Hamas is supportive of Palestinians joining the court, even though their rocket attacks targeting Israelis would likely be investigated.

If the Palestinians decide to sign the Rome statute, Abbas can call for an investigation into crimes in Gaza. That would trigger a backlash from the U.S. and Israel, and could lead to aid cuts to the Palestinian Authority.

The other option would be for the UN Security Council to refer a case to the ICC, as the UN Goldstone report suggested. But since the U.S. has veto power, that option is dead in the water.

2. Universal jurisdiction

This Nuremberg trials-era principle holds that any state around the world has jurisdiction over the most serious crimes under international law. The crimes included in this rubric are violations such as war crimes, genocide, torture and crimes against humanity. Many states have laws providing for universal jurisdiction. Figures like Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet have been indicted and detained under the principle. But political considerations and legal issues have, in many cases, prevented the exercise of universal jurisdiction.

Any state that has laws authorizing universal jurisdiction could conceivably bring a case against Israeli soldiers or officials responsible for prosecuting the latest Gaza assault.  Yet the record on accountability for alleged war crimes is dismal.

The most famous case was opened in Spain against Avi Dichter, a former director of the Shin Bet who ordered an Israeli airstrike on the home of Hamas member Saleh Shehadeh in Gaza. The attack killed Shehadeh, his wife and daughter and a number of other civilians living nearby. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights filed charges of crimes against humanity against Dichter in Spain, and a judge decided to open a case in 2009. But later that year, the case was closed.

The Center for Constitutional Rights had filed a case against Dichter in the U.S. for the same attack, but a court of appeals declined to continue hearing the case, deferring to the wishes of the executive branch.

And for many years, Israeli officials feared traveling to the United Kingdom since under British law, citizens can file universal jurisdiction cases against foreigners visiting. In 2005, former Israeli military official Doron Almog fled from Britain after flying there. British security officials were reportedly waiting for him at the airport to arrest him, but Almog never crossed British border control.

After intensive lobbying by Israeli officials, Britain changed their universal jurisdiction laws in 2011, though Haaretz reported the next year that Israeli officials still feared traveling to the UK for fear of being ensnared in the legal system.

3. The International Court of Justice

The ICJ is the official judicial body of the United Nations. The ability to refer cases to the ICJ, though, is limited. The main path is for both states to agree to submit a case to the court. A decision in these types of cases would be binding. In the case of the Palestinians, this is highly unlikely. Israel and the Palestinians are not about to agree to send disputes to an international court.

Another path is to have the United Nations General Assembly, at the request of the Palestinians, refer a case to the court through a vote. This would be a non-binding, advisory decision, much like the 2004 ICJ verdict that Israel’s West Bank separation barrier and settlements were illegal under international law.

Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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43 Responses

  1. just on September 8, 2014, 3:01 pm

    I feel like crying.

    Based on what you are reporting, the Palestinians have got to sign the Rome Statute.

    We have to appeal to our own government (the Executive) in order to change its practice of vetoing anything wrt Israel.

    It’s got to be done.

  2. HarryLaw on September 8, 2014, 3:54 pm

    Alex mentioned Doron Almog, his case is instructive, Almog arrived at Heath row airport, earlier Daniel Machova [Solicitor] had taken out a private summons to have the General arrested on war crimes charges, Almog was tipped off and refused to leave the Israeli plane. The UK police could have boarded the plane or stopped it taking off, instead the police commander fearing an armed confrontation with air marshals or Almog’s security team allowed the plane to return to Israel. Later the UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw apologized to the Israeli government Now of course the UK has changed its rules on Universal Jurisdiction

  3. jon s on September 8, 2014, 3:56 pm

    As Alex Kane mentions in passing, if the Palestinians sign the Rome Statute, it will open the way for investigations into Hamas’ crimes: the rocket and mortar fire directed at our civilian population (every single launch – a crime in itself); the criminal use of schools, mosques, hospitals and residential areas as launch sites, depots, command-and-control centers and so forth; the use of their civilians as human shields; summary executions of their own people…

    • just on September 8, 2014, 4:05 pm

      Rockets were fired.

      That’s all that is true about your post.

    • Justpassingby on September 8, 2014, 4:13 pm

      jon s

      Says alot when you think sending a rocket is the same as a massacre of thousands palestinians…systematically. See your doc.

    • Donald on September 8, 2014, 5:54 pm

      “it will open the way for investigations into Hamas’ crimes”

      Fine with me. But only Israel’s vastly greater crimes are treated with the appropriate severity.

    • pjdude on September 8, 2014, 7:56 pm

      actually you can legally shoot at civilian popualtions. if they have been illegally transported into occupied territory

      • Mooser on September 11, 2014, 7:08 pm

        “actually you can legally shoot at civilian popualtions. if they have been illegally transported into occupied territory”

        “illegally transported”? WOuld that be sorta like going in to occupied territory to build settlements, and terrorise the local population, and arming yourself illegally, with the purpose of annexation? Now, who does that sound like?

    • talknic on September 8, 2014, 11:33 pm

      ” (every single launch – a crime in itself)”

      jon s has to lie and exaggerate hilarious stuff

      ” the criminal use of schools, mosques, hospitals and residential areas as launch sites”

      It might change the status of those sites to military, but it ISN’T illegal. Under your ignorant criteria IDF Headquarters is illegal

      ” summary executions of their own people “

      Also not illegal. States are allowed their own determination to execute traitors in times of war.

    • Marnie on September 9, 2014, 1:21 am

      Can smell your fear Jon. Your litany of “Hamas’ crimes” is legitimate response to israeli aggression. You know how if you’re attacked, you fight back? Same for the other side y’know. Or do you also expect them to just be still and die? I almost puked reading “summary executions of their own people……..” Onward to the ICC and some justice. I just mention this in passing…………..

    • Talkback on September 9, 2014, 8:09 am

      Sure Jon S,

      but unfortunately for your beloved state of countless war criminals Hasbara doesn’t count as evidence.

      • jon s on September 9, 2014, 11:01 am

        Annie, I don’t think it was me who posted that video. I posted videos relating to rocket launches from Shifa Hospital.
        Are you justifying summary executions by Hamas because “Israel does it”. Isn’t that what you call “whataboutery”?

        Justpassingby, Hamas didn’t send “a rocket”, but thousands of potentially lethal rockets and mortars.

        Donald, Fine with me, too.

        Pjdude, I’m not a legal expert but I doubt that that’s true. Wouldn’t that justify deliberately targetting children? In any case, the civilian population in the Israeli South have not been “illegally transported into occupied territory” so your point is irrelevant.

        Talknic, What’s hilarious is the notion of investigating alleged war crimes on the part of the one “player” in the entire Middle East that makes the most serious effort to minimize civilian casualties.
        It’s not illegal to use civilian facilities for military purposes? It just changes their status to military? So you convinced me that it’s ok to attack them.
        IDF headquarters: is it in the basement of Hadassah Hospital?
        Summary executions are consistent with Hamas practice. No surprises.

        Marnie, When we’re attacked, we have the right to fight back. I admit that , when under rocket fire, there is an element of fear, I wouldn’t be honest if I denied it. Completely natural.

      • talknic on September 10, 2014, 3:26 am

        @ jon s “Hamas didn’t send “a rocket”, but thousands of potentially lethal rockets and mortars”

        and the tens of thousands of tons of human slaughtering projectiles Israel unleashed on Palestine make anything Hamas had pale into insignificance.

        BTW If Israel adhered to the law and withdrew from all non-Israeli territories, there’d be no valid reason for Hamas firing anything at Israel. As it is, Hamas has a right to attempt to hit Israeli military where ever they are and with anything they can muster up, even home made rockets. So as long as Israel continues to covet and steal other folks territory, expect retaliation. It’s a very very simple principal, covered by the basic tenets of Judaism. Ever heard of them?

        “the civilian population in the Israeli South have not been “illegally transported into occupied territory” “

        Bullsh*t. Tell me this buster, on what date, by which agreement and by what recognition were Israel’s borders changed from the day they were proclaimed to the world by the Israeli Government itself as ” an independent republic within frontiers approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations in its Resolution of November 29, 1947,” Israel has never legally annexed ANY Territory to it’s proclaimed and recognized borders of May 15th 1948 and of course as you well know by now, it has been illegal to acquire territory by war, ANY war, since at least 1933 … you do read the VALID information people provide or is it not allowed under your brief?

        By 1950 thousands of Israeli citizens were living in territories which were according to the Israeli Government on May 22nd 1948 occupied. I.e., “outside the State of Israel” .. “in Palestine” and under the military control of the State of Israel . Borders were specifically not re-drawn under the Armistice Agreements nor the Peace Treaties that eventuated between Israel and Egypt or Jordan.

        “What’s hilarious is the notion of investigating alleged war crimes on the part of the one “player” in the entire Middle East that makes the most serious effort to minimize civilian casualties.”

        Bullsh*t pal. Israel had all the crossings closed, under the 2005 agreement with Egypt, (only possible to have such an agreement over a third party’s territory and population as an Occupying Power), thereby preventing civilians from fleeing a war zone, BEFORE attacking, which is illegal under Geneva Convention 1V…Section II..Occupied territories..Art49…The Occupying Power shall not detain protected persons in an area particularly exposed to the dangers of war unless the security of the population or imperative military reasons so demand. Civilians could not even flee into the sea, because Israel controls all Palestinian territorial waters.

        In many instances Palestinian civilians were given only one minute or less to clear entire apartment blocks. Furthermore after likely civilian collateral is factored in, armaments are purposefully fired knowing full well there will be civilian casualties but in many instances not knowing whether or not the actual military target was even in the building at the time!

        “So you convinced me that it’s ok to attack them”

        So you were spouting wholly holey ignorant crap. Nice of you to admit something for a change even tho it does make you look &*&^&^% stupid.

        For your information, not that you want information, it’s OK to attack buildings being used for military purposes. It isn’t OK under any circumstances to attack civilians. “any” BTW means any, so don’t come back with the usual puke assertion that I somehow approve of Israeli/Jewish civilians being targeted

        “IDF headquarters: is it in the basement of Hadassah Hospital?”

        It’s in the middle of a city. Not in the middle of an empty field which is where Israel seems to want Hamas to be based. Now, what evidence do you have, aside from Israeli propaganda, that Hamas headquarters were actually in the basement of a hospital?

        BTW you spouter of wholly holey bullsh*t, under the Laws of War, Art. 25. The attack or bombardment, by whatever means, of towns, villages, dwellings, or buildings which are undefended is prohibited.

        Which raises two points you’re gonna hate A) Israel cannot attack without there being armed protection of towns, villages, dwellings, or buildings and; B) The Palestinians do not have anything capable of protecting themselves from Israeli’s high tech human slaughtering armaments and delivery systems.

      • Talkback on September 11, 2014, 6:10 pm

        Jon S, Talknic, What’s hilarious is the notion of investigating alleged war crimes on the part of the one “player” in the entire Middle East that makes the most serious effort to minimize civilian casualties.

        ROFL. That must be Hamas. They killed far more soldiers than civilians. Israel on the other hand …

        BTW. Shooting artillery into dense populated areas shows a reckless disregard of the principle of distinction which is as equally a war crime as a premeditated attack against civilians. Israel uses ammunition of which it knows in advance that it will kill civilians, too.

      • Mooser on September 11, 2014, 7:16 pm

        Jon s, I gotta hand it to you. If had to design a false-flag troll to elicit factual, sincere (and well-linked )answers to Hasbara I couldn’t even begin to approach your perfection in that area.
        It never seems to occur to you the Israel’s characteristic inversions of the facts are well known to many people, and they know almost exactly what to expect from you? And are more than ready for it?

      • annie on September 11, 2014, 7:32 pm

        If had to design a false-flag troll to elicit …..

        mooser, i read crap like this and i just gag

        the one “player” in the entire Middle East that makes the most serious effort to minimize civilian casualties. – See more at:

        lie lie lie while playing/pretending to be the straight shooter. phff.

    • Shingo on September 10, 2014, 8:15 am

      if the Palestinians sign the Rome Statute, it will open the way for investigations into Hamas’ crimes: the rocket and mortar fire directed at our civilian population

      It will also open up the way for investigations into the far more cases of Israel’ crimes: the shells and bombs directed at the Gaza civilian population. And as an occupying power dishing out collective punishment and genocide, Israel has a lot more to fear.

      Your lies about Hamas using hospitals, schools etc have already been eviscerated, but you continue to repeat them.

      I suppose you are still dealing with PTSD.

      • eljay on September 11, 2014, 7:36 am

        >> jon seee: Marnie, When we’re attacked, we have the right to fight back.

        Zio-supremacists love to argue that the rapist has a right to “fight back” against attacks from the victim he has had chained in his basement and which he has been brutally assaulting for months.

        They never miss an opportunity to gloss over or deflect attention from the blatant injustice and immorality of the scenario they so strenuously defend, or to argue against the application of justice and accountability as a means of resolving the conflict.

        (The kicker, which highlights just how hypocritical are Zio-supremacists, is that if the roles of rapist and victim were reversed Zio-supremacists would be screaming for the swift implementation of justice and accountability.)

    • Shingo on September 10, 2014, 8:18 am

      posted videos relating to rocket launches from Shifa Hospital.

      There was no rocket launches from Shifa Hospital. Your fake argument was debunked.

      Hamas didn’t send “a rocket”, but thousands of potentially lethal rockets and mortars.

      Whereas Israel sent about ten times as many not potentially but devastatingly lethal bombs, missiles and shells.

      • jon s on September 10, 2014, 2:21 pm

        Shingo, not lies, not “eviscerated ” or debunked . Hamas launched hundreds of rockets and mortars from schools, mosques, hospitals and civilian residences. They also used those civilian facilities as weapons depots , command centers and entrace points to tunnels.

      • Shingo on September 12, 2014, 6:10 am

        Hamas launched hundreds of rockets and mortars from schools, mosques, hospitals and civilian residences.

        Rubbish. There is not one iota of evidence to support that claim. In fact, Israel were so desperate they even produced a video from 2009 to claim that a rocket had been fired from a hospital in 2014. When the IDF destroyed Al Wafa hospital completely by airstrikes on Jul. 23, it abandoned the pretense that the reason was a Hamas rocket launch site. Instead it released a video purporting to show firing at IDF troops from the hospital.

        It turned out, however, the video clips of the firing been shot during “Operation Cast Lead” in 2009, not in 2014.

        They also used those civilian facilities as weapons depots , command centers and entrace points to tunnels.

        None of those claims passed the smell test. Not a shred of evidence to suport hose claims has been produced.

        Hasbra fail!!

    • eljay on September 10, 2014, 9:54 am

      >> jon seee: As Alex Kane mentions in passing, if the Palestinians sign the Rome Statute, it will open the way for investigations into Hamas’ crimes …

      Let’s do it. Let’s investigate the war crimes of Hamas, Zio-supremacists and the oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and supremacist “Jewish State” of Israel, and let’s hold fully accountable every party found guilty of the crimes with which he/she/they/it is/are charged.

  4. HarryLaw on September 8, 2014, 4:08 pm

    Hamas has already said they support an application to join the ICC, they do not fear prosecutions. In fact all Palestinian factions have voted to join the court, only Abbas acting like a dictator he is refuses to join.

  5. joecatron on September 8, 2014, 4:46 pm

    I believe Palestinian Islamic Jihad, not a bit actor, has held its silence.

    • joecatron on September 8, 2014, 4:47 pm

      That was intended as a reply to HarryLaw, sorry. I’m not sure why it appeared as its own comment.

      • just on September 8, 2014, 5:27 pm

        It may remain a mystery, JC.

      • annie on September 8, 2014, 5:30 pm

        joe, if you start to write something in the box below (or anywhere) and then decide to post it in reply somewhere else, you have to cancel it first or it will land where you initially tried to post. at least that’s the way it used to be in the old formatting.

      • Mooser on September 8, 2014, 7:22 pm

        It is still the same, I’ve run into that situation.

  6. Kay24 on September 8, 2014, 5:35 pm

    “If the Palestinians decide to sign the Rome statute, Abbas can call for an investigation into crimes in Gaza. That would trigger a backlash from the U.S. and Israel, and could lead to aid cuts to the Palestinian Authority.”

    This is where ideally the Arab nations would step in and help the Palestinians including give them the aid the US seems to be holding over their heads. But then when it comes to the Arab states, they are in bed with the US, and some even have some kind of sick relationship with the occupier, who keep slaughtering their brothers in the Palestinian territories.

    These poor Palestinians are between an apartheid wall and stoney silence from their fellow Arabs. It is a wonder they have any hope for freedom at all.

  7. Sycamores on September 8, 2014, 6:17 pm

    in relation to the ICC

    Ma’an news reported on the 28 of August that the PLO will submit an application to the UNSC on Sept. 15 demanding a “timetable” for Israel’s withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territory.
    if the application is denied the PLO will take their case to the ICC.

    Nabil Shaath told Ma’an that the PLO would first submit an application to the UN Security Council on Sept. 15 demanding a “timetable” for Israel’s withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territory.

    The Arab League will meet on Sept. 5 to discuss how to support the move.

    If that request is denied, the PLO will take their case to the International Criminal Court to hold senior Israeli officials such as Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon accountable for Israel’s devastating assault on Gaza, which killed over 2,000 Palestinians.

    “Taking the case to the ICC is conditional upon the Security Council response to our request,” Shaath said, adding that the issue is being discussed within Palestinian political circles.

    A permanent unity government, with Hamas as a full partner, will then be formed in order to facilitate the reconstruction of the war-torn Gaza Strip, Shaath added.

    on a separate issue but related: can someone help to clear this up for me.

    if Hamas and Fatah don’t form a unity government, what effect will that have on Gaza if only the PA sign on to the ICC?

    • Rusty Pipes on September 9, 2014, 9:43 pm

      A timetable that Abbas wants overseen by UN or NATO. Considering that the Syrian insurgents in the Golan (the folks that get their injuries treated in Israeli hospitals) have been so successful at harassing and kidnapping UN peacekeepers in the Golan buffer zone, NATO troops might be more of a deterrent to the IDF and settlers.

  8. bilal a on September 8, 2014, 6:50 pm

    I dont see how EI and MW can ignore the Israeli right’s argument on the West Bank post Gaza, and clearly the military resistance understands this perfectly:

    ““Does anyone still think that it is right to give Palestinians the hills overlooking Ben-Gurion Airport?” he asked. “One mortar a month and we will not have an economy.”

    Bennett at anti-terror conference: The Left is living in the nineties

  9. NickJOCW on September 8, 2014, 9:09 pm

    The ICC is an ace of trumps and at this stage arguably more effective as a threat. Once it’s played it will open a series of lengthy processes during which Palestinian rights for which so may have died will be sidelined in what could prove an interminable retributive process. Abbas’ approach seems much more useful, threaten that route to obtain a schedule for withdrawal from the occupied territories. That pitches Israel as a nation against a large number of it’s military and political leaders. A Channel 2 poll suggests some 30% of, presumably largely middle class, Israelis are beginning to feel they can’t take much more of it and are thinking about leaving. That sounds like a fairly influential political voice. and likely a growing one, in favour of resolution. The question then facing Netanyahu and others looks more like, Do you really want to continue with what is both nationally and internationally an increasingly unpopular conflict and face imminent arrest under international law with all you dirty linen on display? I’ve heard that the proposed withdrawal schedule is three years which seems reasonable, compassionate, and practical. If Abbas pulls that one off it will be the finesse of the age, maybe all ages.

  10. Jackdaw on September 9, 2014, 12:03 am

    Global warming, overpopulation, ISIS.
    Alex. No one should care about accountability.

    No one, unless you’re an extreme moral narcissist, ‘on a mission’ and ready to sacrifice your life to ‘the cause’.

  11. Mooser on September 9, 2014, 10:46 am

    Jackdaw, your comment says nothing and manages to contradict itself, and speak very badly about you, too.

    Not often I see that done so well.

  12. Mooser on September 9, 2014, 10:47 am

    I think Alex should have a section of his own, called “Mondo Kane”

  13. RobertB on September 9, 2014, 11:06 am

    Death of Israeli Child Reveals Netanyahu’s Hypocrisy

    Netanyahu recently told two U.S. congressman that Hamas, Hezbollah and other Islamist groups are defying all international norms. So said the man who has just finished killing some 2,100 people.

    By B. Michael

    “Hypocrisy: The practice of claiming to have higher standards or more noble beliefs than is the case” (Oxford English Dictionary)

    September 08, 2014

    “Haaretz” – – A few days ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with two members of the U.S. Congress. “We are closely following the events on the Golan Heights,” he told them, adding, “What we see is that the Nusra Front, Hamas, Hezbollah – backed by Iran, Al-Qaida, and these other terrorists groups – are basically defying all international norms.”

    So said the man who had just finished killing some 2,100 people, most of them civilians, breaching every norm of international conduct.

    “And I think the United Nations would do itself a great favor if, instead of the automatic Israel-bashing, they actually turned their attention and their investigative committees against these terrorists who trample every norm on which the UN was founded,” the prime minister also added.

    So said the man whose air force only a few days before had wiped out whole residential neighborhoods, sometimes together with their inhabitants, trampling quite a few values and norms upon which the UN was founded.

    After that conversation, Netanyahu went home. The next day he “expropriated” another 4,000 dunams (almost 1,000 acres) of occupied land to build more settlements, and transfer to them thousands more of his country’s citizens.

    Thus, there was not one value, norm, international law or treaty – of all the values and norms and laws and treaties on which the United Nations was founded – that he did not break, crush, smash and pulverize.

    One might therefore say – and even with a great deal of certainty – that from everything noted above, Benjamin Netanyahu very successfully meets all the requirements of the dictionary definition of a hypocrite.

    But for those who still doubt the magnificence of the prime minister’s hypocrisy, here are some more examples.

    On August 20, Mr. Netanyahu was recorded on film expressing his deep shock at the beheading of an American journalist by the knife of an Islamic State murderer. Truly, a wicked deed.

    On August 19, just one day before that horrific execution, the prime minister approved the killing of an 8-month-old baby together with his mother, in the hope that the father would be with them and also be killed.

    The assassination was carried out. Success was partial; baby and mother were crushed, the fate of the father is unknown. (Never mind. He will probably get married again, and we’ll have another chance.)

    Strange. Just one day passed from one convenient execution to shock-to-the-very-core at another execution? And how is the honor of a baby less than that of a journalist?

    Perhaps this only comes to teach us a lesson in the ways of hypocrisy. It turns out that, sometimes, when the needs of hypocrisy require, it is not the deed that is the decisive element but the tool. Did you use a knife to kill? You are the epitome of animal barbarity. Did you use a laser-guided missile? You are the epitome of moral advancement.

    But Netanyahu reached the apex of his hypocritical abilities after the terrible death of 4-year-old Daniel Tragerman on August 22. His face somber, the prime minister declared the killing of Daniel a “double war crime.” True words. He also pledged that Hamas would pay a heavy price. Sharp words.

    The catch is that in the 50 or so days prior to that bitter day, the Israeli army killed 10 children every day. At least. Every day. A total of more than 500 children killed. Or – as Netanyahu put it – 500 double war crimes. And who will pay for these?

  14. MHughes976 on September 9, 2014, 3:10 pm

    I don’t believe that the divided Palestinian leadership, massively dependent on donors who will be intent on stopping them, will do anything along these lines. The Abbas/Erekat/Ashrawi trio has invested its whole being in fake negotiations. Hamas for its part has had a degree of success with the latest passage of arms but it too is for a while at least in desperate need of outside donations for reconstruction purposes. We in the Western pro-Palestinian minority will be left lamenting, as usual.

  15. M. Kalundi on September 10, 2014, 9:22 am

    The Prosecutor of the ICC is also free to initiate an investigation herself under Article 53. The issue now is to put pressure on the Prosecutor to investigate.

    Article 53

    Initiation of an investigation

    1. The Prosecutor shall, having evaluated the information made available to him or her, initiate an investigation unless he or she determines that there is no reasonable basis to proceed under this Statute. In deciding whether to initiate an investigation, the Prosecutor shall consider whether:

    (a) The information available to the Prosecutor provides a reasonable basis to believe that a crime within the jurisdiction of the Court has been or is being committed;

    (b) The case is or would be admissible under article 17 [ Link ] ; and

    (c) Taking into account the gravity of the crime and the interests of victims, there are nonetheless substantial reasons to believe that an investigation would not serve the interests of justice.

    If the Prosecutor determines that there is no reasonable basis to proceed and his or her determination is based solely on subparagraph (c) above, he or she shall inform the Pre-Trial Chamber.

  16. M. Kalundi on September 10, 2014, 10:12 am

    PS Note that the first Muslim cabinet member in the UK quit accusing the British Government of putting pressure on the Prosecutor not to investigate.

    Note also that any member state of the Rome Statute could make a complaint even if the Palestinians were prevented for legal reasons.

  17. [email protected] on September 12, 2014, 10:09 am

    thanks for this article. What do you think of the idea of taking a civil suit or Tort against the IDF or the Israeli government in the Jerusalem District court, seeking Damages and other Equity remedies such as Mandamus orders to rebuild the destroyed properties and injunctions barring the trespassing settlers and soldiers from entering again?
    I know we’d be on a good hiding to nothing, but the Israeli courts are partly derived from the common law, or precedent, system.
    Of course, only an Israeli lawyer or citizen has Locus standi in the Jerusalem District court (the equivalent of High Court) but there must be one Israeli prepared to be the Plaintiff.
    I’m thinking of the various hospitals, schools and UN buildings that were bombed, where the IDF admitted mistake and negligence and causation. These are very possibly actionable and could be included as evidence.
    This method, even if successful, will not result in criminal justice for the victims, but it would cost the Israeli government a fortune. I think that such a pragmatic approach – “You can slaughter, landgrab and exterminate – but it’ll COST you, Bigtime” – may have a tangible effect on the genocidal policy.
    Also, the burden of proof is far lower – Balance of Probabilities as opposed to Beyond reasonable doubt, and this may work to our advantage given the vague and ambivalent nature of the Isralei law in regards to incursions and illegal settlement.

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