The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, issued a statement yesterday warning Israeli authorities over the use of lethal force against civilian protesters in Gaza.
“It is with grave concern that I note the violence and deteriorating situation in the Gaza Strip in the context of recent mass demonstrations,” the statement began, noting that “at least” 27 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli army, “with over a thousand more injured”.
The Prosecutor went on to state that “violence against civilians” in the occupied Gaza Strip “could constitute crimes under the Rome Statute of the [ICC]”.
The statement continued by reminding “all parties that the situation in Palestine is under preliminary examination by my Office”.
“While a preliminary examination is not an investigation, any new alleged crime committed in the context of the situation in Palestine may be subjected to my Office’s scrutiny. This applies to the events of the past weeks and to any future incident,” she added.
In what is being interpreted as a reference to recent statements by senior Israeli political and military officials, the Prosecutor also warned that “any person who incites or engages in acts of violence including by ordering, requesting, encouraging or contributing in any other manner to the commission of crimes within ICC’s jurisdiction is liable to prosecution before the Court.”
The statement concluded by affirming that the Office of the Prosecutor “will continue to closely watch the situation and will record any instance of incitement or resort to unlawful force. I urge all those concerned to refrain from further escalating this tragic situation.”