There was little possibility in the past that a war crimes investigation be initiated against Israel because of political constraints. But what was unthinkable in the past has now become a possibility as Palestine has now announced their desire to become a party to the International Crime Court.
Back in 2008-2009 during the last war that took place between Palestine and Israel, Palestine’s request that Israel be investigated was declined by the permanent war crimes court in The Hague. The legal status of the Palestinian Authority was questioned at that time.
Now, fresh allegations have appeared against Israel after the last weeks of fighting in Gaza, when, after a surge of rockets deployed by Hamas militants, Israel responded with air strikes and ground incursions.
According to the Palestinians, there is just one procedural step missing until they become members of the International Crime Court. They began working towards this membership in 2012 when the General Assembly of the U.N. approved the recognition of Palestine. At that time, they upgraded the observer status that Palestine had from “entity” to “non-member state”. If Palestine would become members of the ICC and if they would sign the founding treaty, the court would also gain jurisdiction over the war crimes that are committed in Palestinian territories. As such, investigations conducted by the International Crime Court could examine events as far back as 2002, when the court attempted to try individuals for their war crimes.
According to John Dugard, international law professor and former U.N. Special Rapporteur for Palestinian Territories, Palestine would be admitted to the ICC if they would apply. After the U.N. has recognized the state of Palestine, the International Crime Court must admit Palestine.
Consequently, Palestinians could request that the court not only investigate alleged crimes that Israel committed in Gaza, but also the Israeli West Bank Settlements and their legality.
The general public is appalled at the high toll of civilian deaths and destruction that Israel has inflicted in Palestine. The United Nations has already launched an inquiry concerning human rights violations.
Even the United States described the shelling of the United Nations-run school as disgraceful, in spite of the fact that Israel declared that they had used force proportionately. Jen Psaky, State Department spokeswoman, insisted that Israel could have done a lot more to prevent civilian deaths in spite of their right of self-defense.
There have been 1,874 Palestinian lives lost during the conflict, while only 64 Israeli soldiers and 3 civilians were reported dead on the other side.