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Dutch NGO appeals to ‘passive’ ICC: open investigation into Israeli war crimes

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A Dutch NGO has released an urgent appeal for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to take action on Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights, in protest of what the group called the court’s “passive” approach.

The Rights Forum, an organization “committed to a fair and sustainable Dutch and European policy on the Palestine/Israel issue,” announced earlier this week that it was delivering its appeal with the support of 185 organizations from 25 countries. 

“Without further delay, investigate possible war crimes committed in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory,” the group said in their appeal, which they delivered to Chief ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda at The Hague on Tuesday.

The date coincided with international Human Rights Day — the day the group was founded a decade ago.

The main issue being taken on by the group is the ICC’s five year delay on launching an official full-scale investigation into the situation in Palestine and whether possible war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in the occupied territory.

“The investigation should have led to a conclusion long ago,” The Rights Forum said. “The delay is not only inexplicable, it is also irresponsible. Absent an official investigation, Israel has been allowed to continue carrying out crimes with impunity.”

In their appeal, the group accuses the ICC of failing to protect Palestinian victims of Israeli aggression, thus contributing to the “culture of impunity” surrounding Israeli crimes in occupied Palestinian territory.

Citing the Rome Statute, which defines the colonization of occupied territory as a war crime, the group criticized the inaction of the ICC and Bensouda on the continued expansion of illegal Israeli settlements across the territory.

“By endlessly postponing the initiation of investigations, the Criminal Court undermines its own integrity and thereby confidence in a functioning international legal order,” the group said.

Highlighting the case of the deadly 2010 Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara, or Gaza Freedom Flotilla, the group deplored Bensouda for her refusal to open an investigation into the incident, which resulted in the death of nine activists.

Two weeks ago, Bensouda refused to open an investigation into the matter for the third time, saying “there is no potential case arising from this situation that is sufficiently grave, to reconsider a case that she had repeatedly sought to close due to lack of gravity.”

“As the preliminary investigation drags on, the crimes continue. The Israeli colonization of occupied lands – a war crime under the Rome Statute – comes with the systemic violation and abuse of the human rights of millions of Palestinians,” the appeal to Bensouda read.

Among the signatories of the appeal were 30 human rights organizations from Palestine, as well as Dutch, French, American, Danish, Canadian, Australian, and Israeli organizations, among others.

According to the group, a number of Israeli groups voiced their support for the appeal, but did not include their names among the signatories for fear of retribution in Israel.

Since December 10, when the appeal was launched, the group said another 15 organizations have signed on, bringing the number to 200 signatories.

“The unparalleled pressure forces Bensouda and the Criminal Court to reflect and act,” The Rights Group said. “They cannot afford to let the Court continue to run the situation in Palestine for longer, thereby jeopardizing the citizen’s own legitimacy and confidence in the international legal order.”

Yumna Patel

Yumna Patel is the Palestine correspondent for Mondoweiss.

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4 Responses

  1. just on December 12, 2019, 2:52 pm

    Thanks for highlighting this action by The Rights Forum and the travesty that is the ICC under Bensouda.

    Here are two more articles from EI that were published recently:

    “Is ICC about to slam the door on justice for Palestine?” by Maureen Clare Murphy


    “ICC prosecutor acts as Israel’s defense lawyer” by Ali Abunimah

    • Talkback on December 13, 2019, 1:22 pm

      Re: Bensouda

      “[Sir Dawda] signed in Israel agreements on cooperation in agriculture, irrigation, healthcare, training and education. … The agreements Sir Dawda signed with Israel may be more than 50 years old, but their spirit lives on. Gambian children in Mansakonko are getting better education today thanks to an Israeli-Gambian project. Eleven Gambian graduate students in agriculture, six men and five women, just started a one-year paid training program in Israel in advanced agro technologies for the first time.”

      “PM Netanyahu Meets President of Gambia

      Prime Minister Netanyahu met at the ECOWAS summit with Gambian President Adama Barrow and discussed with him the possibility of increasing bilateral cooperation in various fields. The Prime Minister said that Israel would dispatch working teams to Gambia to render such assistance as it could.”

      RE: Jewish “democracy”
      “Only two Israeli organizations endorsed the call. Several organizations from Israel informed us they support the call, but do not want their names published as they fear a backlash from subsidizing entities and the Israeli political echelon.”

      • genesto on December 13, 2019, 6:14 pm

        So, you are saying that, because of this cooperation agreement between Gambia and Israel, Bensouda is not willing to hold Israel accountable for its crimes? Looks like it’s high time to replace this woman with someone who is unencumbered by such arrangements and can act openly and freely in a manner befitting this high position. What would it take to replace her?

        BTW, 10 were killed by the IDF’s attack on the Mavi Marmara in 2010. Nine died immediately, but one more died a year or so later from wounds incurred during the attack.

      • Talkback on December 14, 2019, 6:45 am

        genesto: “So, you are saying that, because of this cooperation agreement between Gambia and Israel, Bensouda is not willing to hold Israel accountable for its crimes?”

        Who knows?

        Israel: “In the Gambia we kick-started a football training project for underprivileged children, which teaches them also tolerance and values, coinciding with Gambian Ministry of Education’s agenda of inclusion. Soon we will start cooperating with Gambian agri-sector as well. ”

        In 2017 Gambia exported all of its “Non-fillet Fresh Fish” to Israel.

        Here is another interesting fact from Wikipedia: “According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 78.3% of Gambian girls and women have suffered female genital mutilation.[57] LGBT activity is illegal, and punishable with life imprisonment.”

        Genesto: “TW, 10 were killed by the IDF’s attack on the Mavi Marmara in 2010.”

        Here are some of Bensouda’s claims:
        “- nothing in the information available suggests that medium or high-level IDF members not participating in the boarding operation were implicated in any plan or policy to commit the identified crimes;
        – notwithstanding any plan or policy to commit the identified crimes among some members of the IDF boarding party, members of the IDF boarding the Mavi Marmara also appeared to employ tactics which were inconsistent with a plan or policy to commit one or more of the identified crimes, including the use of ‘less-lethal’ weapons and a graduated use of force in apparent response to the escalating degree of resistance by the passengers. After a hiatus, the IDF also appeared to make reasonable efforts to provide medical care to the wounded, in compliance with its legal obligations”

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