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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

ICC zeroing in on Israeli war crimes?

Tue, 10 Mar 2009 19:11:07 GMT | PressTV

A mosque in El Atatra, Gaza, that was destroyed by the Israeli military.
The International Criminal Court prosecutor is exploring ways to launch an investigation into Israeli war crimes in the Gaza Strip.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo, chief prosecutor of the Hague-based ICC, said he is mulling over the prosecution case of Israeli officials responsible for the suspected crimes committed during the recent offensive in Gaza.

"We are in the analysis phase. I have not yet decided whether we will launch an investigation, but it is a possibility," Moreno-Ocampo told the Argentinean newspaper Perfil.

Israel is suspected of committing war crimes including the use of the deadly white phosphorus shells in densely populated civilian areas, as revealed in an investigation by The Times in January.

While Israel initially denied using the controversial weapon, later mounting evidence forced Israeli officials to admit to having employed the shells.

The International Criminal Court, a treaty-based court, was created in 2002 to allow legal action against war criminals that committed offences after its inception.

The Hague, however, has no jurisdiction over non-signatories to the treaty which created the court. Under such line of argument, Moreno-Ocampo had initially refused to consider the appeal, saying he lacked the legal basis to examine the case.

However, since the Palestinian Authority signed a commitment on January 22 and recognized the court's authority, the prosecutor has appeared more open to study the case.

The announcement by the ICC prosecutor came shortly after the court issued an international arrest warrant against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

Iranian Deputy Judiciary Chief Seyyed Ebrahim Raeesi touched on the matter and criticized The Hague on Monday, saying the warrant was issued while the court has shown utter contempt for Israeli war crimes.

Raeesi described the ruling by The Hague on the Sudanese president as politically-motivated, adding that "the ICC has issued its ruling under the influence of global hegemony".

The Iranian official went on to say that the ruling on al-Bashir had been given priority over the case of Israeli crimes against the Gazan civilians despite loud international protests on the matter.

On the same day that the ICC issued the arrest warrant for the president of Sudan, an international conference opened in Tehran to press Interpol to help Iranian prosecutors arrest 15 Israeli leaders on war crimes charges related to the recent war in Gaza.

The ICC has received more than 200 requests from individuals and organizations, including Amnesty International and the Arab League to look into allegations of war crimes during the Israeli war on the Palestinian territory.

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