Israel's ICC rebuttal 'admission of war crimes': rights group
The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, chaired by former UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk, said in a statement on Thursday that the decision "stems from its knowledge that the Israeli army had committed violations that may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity".
European Parliament members have revealed that a number of human rights experts working on the case have received death threats in The Hague due to their work on the file.
The human rights watchdog, also known as Euro-Med Monitor, called on the ICC to initiate investigations and not to yield to any political pressures or allow the parties involved to evade responsibility.
EU parliamentarian Manu Pineda, whom the statement cited as one of the officials who reported the intimidation, has called for a "swift investigation, free from outside interference".
Pineda, who chairs the European Parliament Delegation for Relations with Palestine (DPAL), said last month that "those responsible, the political leaders and military generals, must stand trial and be prosecuted".
Euro-Med Monitor's reaction comes on the heels of Israel's announcement that it would not cooperate with the ICC on a full investigation into the situation in the Israeli-occupied territories, opened on March 3.
The ICC sent a deferral notice on 9 March, which gave Israel and the Palestinian Authority a month to tell judges whether they are investigating crimes similar to those being probed by the ICC.
Had Israel informed the court that it was in fact carrying out its own probe into alleged war crimes perpetrators, it could have asked for a deferral.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instead announced that Israel considers the Hague-based court – of which Israel is not a member of – not to have the authority to initiate an investigation against his country.
Netanyahu held a session of consultations with heads of the political, security and judicial departments before announcing that it would "to not cooperate" with the internationally recognised body.
The ICC ruled on January 22 it has jurisdiction over the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, paving the way for the tribunal’s prosecutor to open a war crimes investigation.