Israel has expressed outrage over a move by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to launch a preliminary investigation into Tel Aviv’s war crimes against Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that he rejected the “scandalous” ICC decision, claiming the court has no jurisdiction over Palestine as it is not a state.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians were killed or injured in Israel’s war on Gaza last summer.
Netanyahu described the probe as “absurd” and claimed that Israel “fights terror while maintaining international law and has an independent justice system.”
In a statement on Friday, the ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, said the court launched a preliminary probe into Israel’s war crimes against the Palestinian people.
Bensouda added that she will conduct the examination in “full independence and impartiality.”
Meanwhile, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the examination solely aimed to “try to harm Israel’s right to defend itself from terror.”
Lieberman added in a statement that the move has been motivated by “political anti-Israel considerations.”
He also said he would act to “dismantle this court, a body that he claims “represents hypocrisy and gives terror a tailwind.”
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki welcomed the move by the ICC, saying, “Everything is going according to plan; no state and nobody can now stop this action we requested.”
“In the end, a full investigation will follow the preliminary one,” he added.
Herman von Herbel, who serves as ICC registrar, confirmed on January 5 that the body has received documents from the Palestinian Authority declaring its acceptance of the body’s jurisdiction.
The move paves the way for the ICC investigation of crimes by the Israeli regime, which is not a member of the court, committed during the recent war on Gaza.
Israel’s war on Gaza, which ended in August 2014 through an Egyptian-brokered truce, killed over 2,140 Palestinians, including 577 children. Over 11,100 others, including 3,374 children, 2,088 women and 410 elderly people, were injured. About 70 Israeli were also killed during the war. Hamas puts this number at 150.
About 1,500 buildings and structures were also demolished during the Israeli offensive.
Gazan officials have warned that more people could die as tens of thousands are still displaced in the wake of the recent Israeli war, waiting for money for the reconstruction of their houses.
The Gaza Strip has been under Israel’s crippling siege since 2007.