New evidence of Israeli war crimes against Palestinian detainees must be investigated by ICC Prosecutor

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Paris, Jerusalem, 10 June 2022 — The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member organisation in Israel, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) presented a joint communication to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) denouncing alleged crimes committed by Israeli Security Agency against Palestinian detainees. The communication sheds light on Israeli authorities’ systematic policy of torture, inhuman treatment, and forcible transfer of Palestinians, amounting to war crimes.

Read this press release in Hebrew.

After a five-year long preliminary examination and a year and a half of legal proceedings clarifying the territorial jurisdiction of the Court, the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) initiated an investigation into the situation of Palestine on 3 March 2021. The investigation focuses primarily on war crimes committed since 13 June 2014 in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. The communication submitted this week calls for the inclusion within the scope of the investigation of the war crimes of torture, inhuman treatment, unlawful deportation and violation of the right to fair trial committed by Israeli security agents and other state officials against Palestinians.

"The communication demonstrates that Israeli security agents and other state officials have systematically tortured, degraded, and inhumanely treated Palestinian individuals suspected of involvement in national security crimes."

Alice Mogwe, FIDH president

"They have unlawfully deported them from the Palestinian territories into Israel for the purpose of such treatment. They have denied them the fundamental right to a fair trial. Given the clear lack of genuine investigations and genuine prosecutions for these international crimes at the domestic level, the International Criminal Court (ICC) must take decisive actions against impunity," declared Alice Mogwe, FIDH president.

This communication is based on 17 cases in which Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI)’s clients were abducted from the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) for the purposes of interrogations by Israeli security agencies, which involved torture and inhuman and degrading treatment. The evidence demonstrates that teams of Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) soldiers and Israel Security Agency (ISA) agents systematically arrested Palestinians in the oPt, who were subsequently deported to detention locations outside of the oPt and subjected to torture. Over 1,300 complaints of torture by Israeli authorities have been submitted to Israel’s Justice Ministry between 2001 and June 2021. These have resulted in two criminal investigations and zero indictment.

"PCATI has represented hundreds of victims of torture for over 30 years. However, no interrogator has ever stood trial for this barbarous act in Israel."

Tal Steiner, executive director of PCATI

"This shows that the Israeli justice system fails to provide protection against the use of torture. We believe that international justice is the last resort to finally stop torture in Israel. We invite the OTP to hear victims’ call for justice and take active investigative measures to hold perpetrators accountable," declared Tal Steiner, PCATI’s executive director.

The FIDH-PCATI submission benefited from the support of Global Diligence partner, Alexandre Prezanti.

Background: International crimes committed in Palestine

On 16 January 2015, the ICC Prosecutor announced the initiation of a preliminary examination into the situation in Palestine, following the submission of a declaration by the State of Palestine accepting the Court’s jurisdiction over international crimes committed since 13 June 2014 on its territory, namely Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

In December 2019, the Prosecutor concluded that an investigation is warranted, yet indicated that the territory over which the Court can exercise jurisdiction needed to be confirmed.

On 5 February 2021, Pre-Trial Chamber I decided, by majority, that the Court’s territorial jurisdiction in the situation in Palestine, "a state party to the ICC Rome Statute", extends to the territory occupied by Israel since 1967, namely Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

On 3 March 2021, the ICC Prosecutor announced the opening of a full-fledged investigation into the situation of Palestine.

The OTP is focusing its inquiries into events from June 2014 onwards.

For more information on the steps that were taken before the opening of the ICC investigation into Palestine, see FIDH’s Happenings in The Hague on the situation of the State of Palestine before the ICC.

You can access the Hebrew version of the executive summary of the communication here.

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