Thursday, January 15, 2009

World Court Claims It Has No Jurisdiction Over Gaza War Crimes

Prosecutor Insists Nothing Can Be Done With Calls for Investigation

by Jason Ditz | January 14, 2009

The International Criminal Court (ICC) declared today that it has no jurisdiction over the actions of Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip, meaning that the growing number of calls by humanitarian organizations to investigate Israeli activities in the Gaza Strip cannot lead to any action by the Hague-based court.

Israel has been accused of a myriad of activities which the court would classify as war crimes, but as Israel signed but never ratified the ICC’s Rome Statute and the Gaza Strip is not considered a “nation” by the court, the actions of Israeli citizens, or indeed anyone else not a national of a signatory nation, would ostensibly not fall under their jurisdiction.

Yet last year, the ICC did claim jurisdiction over Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and filed genocide charges against him even though Sudan, like Israel, was a signatory of the Rome Statute that never ratified it. Bashir argued, more or less successfully so far, against the court having jurisdiction over him, but the fact that he was charged and the court won’t even consider investigating Israel’s actions is bound to lead to accusations of a double standard.

Though Israel has in the past expressed “deep sympathy” for the goals of the court, it objected to the contents of some of the laws, in particular defining “the transfer of parts of the civilian population of an occupying power into occupied territory” as a war crime.

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