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Hamas official says Israel’s snub of ICC 'no surprise’

Israel has said it would formally reject the ICC's decision [Getty]

Date of publication: 9 April, 2021

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Basim Naem has said that Israel’s dismissal of the ICC probe is no surprise, but also expressed hope.

A senior Hamas official said Friday he was "not surprised" that Israel has brushed aside the International Criminal Court's (ICC) decision to launch a probe into potential war crimes against the Palestinians.

Basim Naem however expressed hope the investigation would lead to formal charges, arrests and subsequent imprisonment.

Israel on Thursday said it would formally reject the International Criminal Court's decision.

It denies it has committed such crimes and said the court lacks the jurisdiction to investigate.

A panel of judges at the ICC ruled in February that the court does have jurisdiction, allowing the investigation to proceed.

Israel's response to a formal notification sent out last month is not expected to reopen that debate, though judges may reconsider the issue of jurisdiction later in the process.

The court is expected to look at possible war crimes committed by Israelis forces and Palestinian militants during and after the 2014 Gaza war, as well as Israel's establishment of settlements in the occupied West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem.

International law prohibits the transfer of civilians into occupied territory.

The Palestinians have hailed the probe as a rare opportunity to hold Israel to account for what they say are serious, longstanding violations of international law.

The Palestinians were granted non-member observer status in the UN General Assembly in 2012, allowing them to join international organisations like the ICC.

Israel says the court is biased against it and has no right to investigate, citing its own judicial processes and the fact that the Palestinians have neither a state nor defined borders.

Experts have said Israel might have succeeded in deferring investigations into possible war crimes by citing its own investigations into alleged misconduct by its soldiers.

Read more: Is the ICC the new frontier of Israeli exceptionalism?

But the establishment and continuing expansion of settlements has been an official state policy for decades and is allowed under Israeli law.

Israel is not a member of the ICC, but Israeli officials could be subject to arrest in other countries if the court issues warrants against them.

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