Palestinians urge faster ICC probe into Israel 'war crimes'

Top Palestinian officials today urged the world's only permanent war crimes court to speed up a probe into allegations of Israeli abuses amid an upsurge of fresh violence between the two sides.

AFP| Updated: Oct 31, 2015, 01:32 AM IST

The Hague: Top Palestinian officials today urged the world's only permanent war crimes court to speed up a probe into allegations of Israeli abuses amid an upsurge of fresh violence between the two sides.

"It is extremely important to expedite the process... because if Israel feels impunity, what will deter Israel from multiplying the victims?" said Palestinian foreign minister Riad al-Malki.

He was speaking after handing over a new dossier to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) "making reference to the extra-judicial killings, home demolition and collective punishments."

It also cited examples "in the last 40 days of Israeli aggression."

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas met today with prosecutor Fatou Bensouda for the first time since the Palestinian Authority sparked controversy by joining the tribunal in January.

In recent weeks, Israel and the Palestinians have been gripped by a fresh wave of violence in which more than 60 Palestinians and nine Israelis have died.

The almost daily clashes and knife attacks have triggered fears they may herald the start of a third Palestinian uprising, or intifada.

Malki said he had handed the new "well-prepared document" to Bensouda earlier in the day.

To Israel's fury, the Palestinians formally asked the ICC earlier this year to investigate the Jewish state for alleged war crimes during the 2014 Gaza war.

Some 2,200 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed in the 50-day war in July and August 2014, as well as 73 people on the Israeli side, mostly soldiers.

Bensouda has officially opened a preliminary inquiry into whether there is sufficient evidence of crimes -- by either the Palestinians or the Israelis -- which would merit formal investigation.

"We have asked them to expedite that process," Malki told reporters outside the tribunal in The Hague.

The Palestinian delegation had also urged ICC officials to visit the territories, but were told they were "awaiting approval from the Israeli side," Malki said.

The court needed to "expedite their investigation to reach a final conclusion that they have a solid basis and enough evidence to prove that Israel has committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, for the ICC to open a full investigation," he added.

"We hope that they would reach the conclusion soon."

Earlier top Palestinian official Saeb Erakat said the 52-page dossier alleged "summary executions, collective punishments, house demolitions and ethnic cleansing" and was backed by "verified photos and videos."