The International Criminal Court (ICC) is taking steps to address possible war crimes violations against Israel perpetrated against Palestinians in recent years.
ICC is an international tribunal that is located at The Hague, a city on the western coast of the Netherlands.
The move by the ICC indicates that the international community is recognizing the many atrocities committed by the current government leadership in Israel and could take a tougher stance against the state in the years ahead.
On Friday, the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber 1 ordered “a system of public information and outreach activities for the benefit of the victims and affected communities in the situation in Palestine.” These include direct outreach by ICC officials, as well as a website set up online for Palestinians to put forward their concerns and abuses.
Judges on the ICC also permitted officials to grant measures to Palestinians to remain anonymous when necessary to protect themselves against harassment or other means of punishment for speaking out.
The ICC’s work will not necessarily end up producing an outcome of charges, however, and could take many years to complete. The initial call for an inquiry, for example, which led to this new proclamation, was started more than three and a half years ago.
An official comment by Israel has yet to be heard, but one former senior Israeli diplomat, Alan Baker, scoffed at the decision, stating the ICC was “openly turning itself into a Palestinian propaganda engine” in rendering its decree last week.
That blistering critique is objectively misplaced, as several Palestinian organizations, including Al-Haq, Al Mezan, and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, demonstrated last year. In September 2017, those organizations passed along documents that showed instances of apartheid in the region, including theft, destruction and removal of Palestinian property, and “willful killing and murder” of hundreds in the West Bank in recent years.
The inquiry by the ICC judges is justified, and the actions of the Israeli state need to be examined by such an impartial body. The outcome of this investigation may not render a charge of war crimes to Israeli leadership, but the victims of the atrocities that have occurred to Palestinians deserve to be heard.