Int’l court eyeing ways to prosecute Israelis

LONDON (JTA) — The International Criminal Court is exploring ways to prosecute Israeli commanders for alleged war crimes in Gaza, according to a British newspaper report.

Last month, when Palestinian groups petitioned the court to lodge complaints against the Israeli military, they were told that the court has no jurisdiction over Israel as it is not a signatory to the court. But the prosecutor of the court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, told the Times newspaper Monday that he is examining the case for Palestinian jurisdiction over alleged crimes committed in Gaza even though Israel, like the United States and other countries, is not a signatory to the court.

According to the Times, Palestinian groups have submitted arguments asserting that the Palestinian Authority is the “de-facto state” in the territory.

“It is the territorial state that has to make a reference to the court," Moreno-Ocampo told the Times. "They are making an argument that the Palestinian Authority is, in reality, that state.”

Moreno-Ocampo explained that the Palestinian argument rests on Israeli insistence that it has no responsibility for Gaza under international law since it withdrew from the territory in 2006.

“It’s very complicated. It’s a different kind of analysis I am doing," Moreno-Ocampo said. "It may take a long time, but I will make a decision according to law.”

The prosecutor said his examination of the case does not indicate that he believes war crimes were committed. Determining jurisdiction was a first step, he said, and only after it had been decided could he launch an investigation.

The court already has received several files on alleged crimes from Palestinian groups. It is awaiting further reports from the Arab League and Amnesty International containing evidence gathered in Gaza.

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