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ICC to probe ‘Palestine situation’ after war crimes claims

The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court at The Hague, Fatou Bensouda, has announced she has opened a preliminary investigation into the “situation in Palestine” after the Palestinian government lodged claims of war crimes against Israel.

The ICC made the announcement on its website on Friday weeks after the Palestinian Authority requested the ICC to investigate war crimes it said were carried out by Israel during the Israeli Defense Force’s Operation Protective Edge launched in July, in which more than 2,200 Gazans were killed.

Bensouda’s decision came after the Palestinian government acceded to the Rome Statute on Jan. 2, and the court accepted its jurisdiction over alleged crimes committed in “occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, since June 13, 2014.”

The decision also comes a day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in a “miserable struggle” to cover up the crimes he committed during the Israeli air-and-land offensives on the Gaza Strip.

Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said in a statement released on Thursday: “The Israeli prime minister’s call for the condemnation of our president’s speech on Jan. 14 and attempting to cover up the crimes he committed in Gaza is a shameful and hypocritical situation for humanity.”

“State terrorism”

Erdogan had commented on the Israeli premier’s controversial presence at the anti-terrorism rally in France on Sunday by saying, during a joint press conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ankara on Monday: “I find it very difficult to understand how he dared to go there after killing 2,500 people in Gaza through state terrorism.”

Netanyahu responded on his Twitter account on Wednesday, saying: “I’ve yet to hear any world leader condemn the comments by @RT_Erdogan who said Israel should not have been represented in the march in Paris.”

Kalin said the Israeli offensive of July-August 2014 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip left 2,205 Palestinians dead, of whom 1,483 were civilians, and over 11,000 others wounded.

“The attacks also left 110,000 Palestinians homeless as 20,000 houses were demolished. Fourteen journalists were also killed during the offensives. Israel also bombed UN offices, schools and hospitals,” he said.

Kalin also described Netanyahu’s attempt to use last week’s attack on the Paris headquarters of Charlie Hebdo in which 12 people died, and Sunday’s unity march in France for his own political ends as “a deplorable act that must be condemned by all.”

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