International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda appears at the trial of alleged Malian Islamist militant Al-Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud at The Hague on July 8, 2019. She announced an investigation into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Wednesday. Photo by Eva Plevier/EPA-EFE
March 3 (UPI) -- International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said Wednesday her office will open an investigation into alleged war crimes in Palestine, promising to examine both sides of the conflict.
The announcement quickly brought condemnation from Israeli officials and praise from the Palestinian Authority. The announcement was expected after the ICC ruled Feb. 5 that it had jurisdiction if it decided to do such an investigation, a move rejected by the United States and Israel.
"The investigation will cover crimes within the jurisdiction of the court that are alleged to have been committed in the situation since [June 13, 2014], the date to which reference is made in the Referral of the Situation to my office," Bensouda said.
Bensouda said her office will soon set the rules for the investigation in light of the operational challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic, limited resources and current workload.
"Such challenges, however, as daunting and complex as they are, cannot divert us from ultimately discharging the responsibilities that the Rome Statute places upon the office," Bensouda said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted the decision, saying the decision was connected with bias against Israel.
"The biased International Criminal Court in The Hague reached a decision that is pure antisemitism," Netanyahu said. "It decided that our brave and moral soldiers that fight against the cruel terrorists are the terrorists. It decided that when we build a house in our eternal capital, Jerusalem, it is a war crime."
The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates said it welcomes the decision.
"This is a long-awaited step that serves Palestine's tireless pursuit of justice and accountability, which are indispensable pillars of the peace the Palestinian people seek and deserve," the ministry said in a statement. "The State of Palestine reminds the prosecutor and states parties that the crimes committed by officials of the occupying power against the Palestinian people are ongoing, systematic and widespread."