Palestinian foreign ministry welcomes Chile and Mexico’s calls for ICC investigation into Israel crimes in Gaza

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry announced it supports Chile and Mexico’s request for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate Israel's crimes against civilians during the Gaza war.

“The court must fulfil its mandate towards Palestinian victims and ensure justice for crimes committed by Israeli officials, without fear or favour,” the ministry noted.

“The referral confirms the urgent need for the court to fulfill its mandate, to deter, investigate, and prosecute the most serious crimes of concern for the international community,” the ministry said in a statement.

“Israeli officials are not deterred as they continue with their genocidal war,” it added.

Mexico and Chile have asked the ICC to probe possible war crimes committed by Israel against Palestinians in its ongoing war on the besieged strip.

The referral was “due to the growing concern over the latest escalation of violence, particularly against civilian targets”, the Mexican foreign ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

It added that the ICC was a “crucial platform for determining international criminal responsibility”.

The move comes as the death toll from Israel’s onslaught in Gaza reached nearly 25,000, the majority of whom are children and women.

Alberto van Klaveren, Chile’s foreign minister, said his country stands by “investigation of any possible war crime” committed by either side of the conflict.

The ICC, based in The Hague, is an international court with jurisdiction to prosecute and try individuals for committing international crimes, including the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

Its proceedings are different from that of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which is a UN court that settles disputes between countries.

Israel is not a member of the ICC and does not recognise its jurisdiction or formally engage with it.

In 2021, the ICC prosecutor launched an investigation into possible war crimes committed from 2014 onwards by Israel and Palestinian groups in Palestinian territories.

Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan stated in November the investigations now “extend to the escalation of hostilities and violence” committed since 7 October.

Khan’s statement came after referrals made to the court by Bangladesh, Bolivia, Comoros, Djibouti, and South Africa to probe the current war.

However, Khan has been accused by Palestinians of showing bias towards Israel and dragging his feet in the ongoing investigations.

The move by Mexico and Chile comes amid growing criticism of Israel’s actions in Gaza, as daily footage of death and devastation shocks the world.

Earlier this month, Indonesia and Slovenia said they plan to join proceedings at the ICJ that seek an advisory opinion on whether the Israeli control of occupied Palestinian territory is breaching international law.

The non-binding advisory opinion was requested by the UN General Assembly in December 2022.

The case is separate from that brought by South Africa last month before the ICJ, which accused Israel of committing genocide in Gaza and demanded an immediate halt to all military operations.

Israel rejects accusations of genocide, saying its actions are compliant with international law.

A two-day public hearing of South Africa’s case was held at The Hague last week.

A provisional ruling on the suspension of military activity before the main case starts is expected within weeks.

ICJ rulings are legally binding in theory, but they are usually unenforceable.

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