It's time for the International Criminal Court to rule on the conduct of the Israeli army

Under international humanitarian law there have been many incidents that could constitute serious international crime

Share

This article was jointly written with Mark McDonald, deputy head of Mansfield Chambers and founder of Labour Friends of Palestine.

As of today, over 1,900 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces.  Almost a quarter of the dead are children. Overall the picture is one of carnage and collective punishment against Palestinians. It is an atrocity that led Baroness Warsi to resign as Foreign Office Minister last week after calling the British government’s approach in Gaza “morally indefensible”.

The Israeli military has targeted schools, hospitals and civilian homes in Gaza. The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for those responsible for the “gross violation of international law” to be brought to justice.

Israel’s offensive in Gaza could form the basis of a criminal prosecution for war crimes in the International Criminal Court (ICC). Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki met ICC Prosecutors last Tuesday to push for an investigation of Israeli military forces for war crimes.

The practicalities of mounting such a case were discussed among international human rights lawyers at the Chambers of Michael Mansfield QC in London. Referral to the ICC has been a matter of public interest since 2009 when the previous referral for war crimes violations by the Israeli army failed. Following the Operation Cast Lead, the ICC prosecutor refused to accept jurisdiction as Palestine was not considered a state. Since then there have been significant developments.

In November 2012, the UN General Assembly voted to accord Palestine the status of non-member observer state. In the past year Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas has signed 15 international treaties and conventions signifying Palestine as a state in its own right.

As a recognised state, Palestine is now considering signing up to the Rome statute thereby becoming a member of the ICC. Once Palestine is a member of the ICC it can request the ICC prosecutor investigate war crimes committed on its territory by Israel.

Under international humanitarian law there have been many incidents which could constitute serious international crime. Such crimes include reliance on excessive force, population transfers following the settlements, and maintenance of the separation wall in the West Bank. As Israel has not signed up to the Rome statute of the ICC, Israel could not bring charges against Hamas for the rockets fired at Israeli civilians.

An alternative route for the ICC to intervene is for the UN Security Council to refer the matter to the ICC. This is unlikely given that members of the Security Council who are allies of Israel such as the US and Britain are likely to block such a referral. After all the US has been totally opposed to any accession by Palestine to the ICC.

President Abbas will be subject to increasing international pressure from the US and Britain who strongly advocate that peace negotiations would be undermined by pursuing prosecutions for war crimes. Despite the efforts of many within the international community, attempts to broker peace between Israel and Palestine have failed; instead hostilities have intensified resulting in the death of 1,402 Palestinian civilians by Israel’s military forces.

Palestine should be pushing for a finding of war crimes against Israeli forces. It is time for an international court to rule on the conduct of the Israeli army. This would send a clear message that Israel cannot continue to transgress international human rights with impunity. The world has watched events in Gaza with stunned horror. The global community needs to adjudicate on what is being inflicted on the civilians of Gaza. That is the point of international law. That is an acid test for international justice.

READ MORE:
The UK needs to stop selling arms to Israel and open its eyes to the suffering caused by inaction  

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Developer

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a world leader ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Technical Support Engineer

£19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company ar...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

£23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

Day In a Page

Read Next
An investor looks at an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Shanghai  

China has exposed the fatal flaws in our liberal economic order

Ann Pettifor
Jeremy Corbyn addresses over a thousand supporters at Middlesbrough Town Hall on August 18, 2015  

Thank God we have the right-wing press to tell us what a disaster Jeremy Corbyn as PM would be

Mark Steel
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future