Saturday, March 06, 2021 Last Update: 6:44 PM GMT

ICC Prosecutor Opens Formal Investigation into War Crimes in Palestine

ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. (Photo: ICC Website)

The International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, today announced that her office will open a formal investigation into war crimes in Palestine.

“Today, I confirm the initiation by the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court of an investigation respecting the Situation in Palestine. The investigation will cover crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court that are alleged to have been committed in the Situation since 13 June 2014, the date to which reference is made in the Referral of the Situation to my Office,” read a statement by Bensouda’s Office that was made available to international media and received by The Palestine Chronicle.

“How the Office will set priorities concerning the investigation will be determined in due time, in light of the operational challenges we confront from the pandemic, the limited resources we have available to us, and our current heavy 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.”

“On the basis of our deliberations, we knew that one issue we would need to have resolved related to the territorial scope of the Court’s jurisdiction in the Situation in Palestine. For this reason, we took, as a responsible prosecuting Office, the preliminary step of seeking a ruling on the question, because it was important for us to obtain clarity on it at the outset, so as to chart the course of any future investigation on a sound and judicially tested foundation.”

On December 20, 2019, Bensouda made a request to the Judges of Pre-Trial Chamber I for a ruling to clarify the territorial scope of the Court’s jurisdiction in the Situation in Palestine, and on February 5, 2021, the Chamber decided that the Court may exercise its criminal jurisdiction in the Situation in Palestine and that the territorial scope of this jurisdiction extends to Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

In its majority ruling, the Chamber stressed that it was not determining whether Palestine fulfilled the requirements of statehood under public international law, or adjudicating a border dispute, or prejudging the question of any future borders; it was solely determining the scope of the Court’s territorial jurisdiction for the purposes of the Rome Statute, as requested.

Having assessed submissions from states, international organizations and other stakeholders, the Chamber was otherwise unanimous in its view that Palestine is a State Party to the Rome Statute.

(Palestine Chronicle, WAFA, Social Media)

Israeli Mob Attacks Palestinian Journalists in Mea Shearim Neighborhood

The ultra-orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Mea Shearim, in West Jerusalem. (Photo: Oren Ziv, via Activestills.org)

An Israeli mob today attacked Palestinian journalists working for the Turkish Anadolu news agency while doing a report in an all-Israeli West Jerusalem neighborhood.

The mob attacked the two journalists, Mustafa Kharouf and Fayez Abu Rmeileh, who were working on a report in Mea Shearim, an ultra-orthodox Jewish neighborhood in West Jerusalem, and smashed the glass of their car.

Last Sunday, settlers in the same neighborhood attacked a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem when he drove into the neighborhood and attempted to lynch him. The Palestinian, Ibrahim Hamed, was able to escape but not before being hit and injured and his vehicle damaged.

(WAFA, PC, Social Media)

Eight Palestinians Detained, Five Injured in Israeli Raids in West Bank

Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank. (Photo: WikimediaImages via Pixabay)

Israeli forces Wednesday overnight detained eight Palestinians and injured three others across the West Bank, according to the Palestine Prisoner’s Society (PPS) and security sources.

PPS confirmed in a press statement that Israeli forces re-arrested two former prisoners after storming and ransacking their houses in Jenin refugee camp.

Israeli soldiers detained another Palestinian after searching his parents’ house in Ya‘bad town, west of Jenin city.

During a raid in the city of Jenin, Israeli soldiers opened fire towards Palestinians in the area surrounding Khalil Suleiman Government Hospital, injuring a woman, in her 50s, with bullet fragments. Another woman and her daughter sustained injuries from the flying shards of the glass of their vehicle in the hospital courtyard.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces detained another Palestinian in a predawn raid in Nablus city.

In Ramallah and al-Bireh district, PPS confirmed an Israeli military raid in Birzeit town, north of Ramallah, resulting in the detention of another, who works as an engineer/ architect.

In Jerusalem district, police barged their way into Jabal al-Mukabbir neighborhood, where they rounded up two Palestinians.

It is worth noting that police rounded up former member of Fatah Revolutionary Council Jihad Abu Zneid, who serves as the head of the Women’s Center in Shu‘fat refugee camp.

In Hebron district, PPS confirmed a similar raid in al-Fawwar refugee camp, resulting in the detention of another.

During the ensuing confrontations, soldiers opened fire towards local youngsters who attempted to block their passage, injuring two protestors.

One of the casualties, 22, was hit with a live round in the thigh. Both were rushed to a hospital for urgent treatment.

Israeli forces frequently raid Palestinian houses almost on a daily basis across the West Bank on the pretext of searching for “wanted” Palestinians, triggering clashes with residents.

(WAFA, PC, Social Media)

Hamas: Israel’s Detention Campaigns Aim to Alter Results of Upcoming Elections

Top member of Hamas’ Political Bureau Mousa Abu Marzouk. (Photo: Palestine Foundation, via Twitter)

Hamas said yesterday that detention campaigns carried out by Israeli occupation against the movement aim to affect the results of the Palestinian election.

Recently, Israeli occupation forces escalated detention campaigns targeting Hamas leaders, members, and activists in the occupied West Bank.

Hamas MP Sheikh Nayef Al-Rajoub said that the Israeli occupation detains Hamas members and holds them under administrative detention.

These detention campaigns aimed at “targeting the will of Palestinian youth, who are at the core of the upcoming elections,” Hamas said in a statement.

“We stress that achieving national consensus and partnership is a national priority,” Hamas added, reiterated that it “will continue its efforts to rearrange the Palestinian national home on the basis of achieving partnership, ending divisions and setting up a comprehensive, national program to face off the Israeli occupation and settlement activities.”

Hamas called on all free people of the world and parliaments to impose sanctions on the Israeli occupation, which has been targeting Palestinian democracy for years.

“The detention campaigns come as part of a policy adopted by the Israeli occupation since 2006 to undermine the Palestinian political system and exclude any influential Palestinian party that gained legitimacy through the ballot boxes,” Hamas concluded.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Report: Israeli Drones, Spyware Sold to Myanmar despite Ban

Palestine Action activists stage a protest against Israeli defense company ‘Elbit System’ in London. (Photo: via Palestine Action)

Surveillance drones and sophisticated hacking software produced by Israeli and Western firms have been sold to Myanmar, despite bans on exports to the country, a new report claims.

Spyware purchased by Burmese forces is now being used to crack down on dissent following a military coup earlier this month, The New York Times reported on Monday.

The hacking software and military technology made their way into Myanmar despite embargos on arms and dual-use technology introduced in several countries over the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims.

Israel is among the countries to have barred the export of such technology to Myanmar after it emerged Israeli weaponry was being used against the Rohingya ethnic minority.

Military experts identified the armored vehicles as a model produced by Israel’s Gaia Automotive Industries.

The company’s head, Shlomi Shraga, told the NYT he had not seen images of the vehicles being used in Myanmar and insisted that all Gaia Automative exports had the requisite licenses from Israel’s defense ministry.

Technology produced by Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems and Israeli digital intelligence company Cellebrite has also been purchased by Myanmar, the NYT review of Burmese budget allocations found.

Elbit claims it has had “no dealings with Myanmar since 2015 or 2016” but spare parts for military-grade surveillance drones produced by the company were sold to Burmese forces in 2019. The sale of parts is included within the arms embargo.

The documents, provided to the NYT by Justice For Myanmar, show how Myanmar spent millions of dollars on technology that can track people’s live locations, listen to their conversations, and mine phones and computers for data.

(The New Arab, PC, Social Media)

Palestinian Elections: Barghouti and Qidwa Give Abbas Ultimatum for Accepting Electoral List

Imprisoned Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti. (Photo: Tamar Fleishman, The Palestine Chronicle)

Senior Fatah leaders Marwan Barghouti and Nasser Al-Qidwa have given Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas until March 5 to accept their electoral list, Lebanon’s Al-Akbar reported on Monday.

Barghouti has been in an Israeli prison since 2002, while Al-Qidwa is a cousin of the late Yasser Arafat. According to senior Fatah sources, they have proposed a list to Abbas that includes young people and active Fatah members who have been effectively neutralized by Abbas due to their resistance against the Israeli occupation.

The Lebanese newspaper reported the sources as saying that they ruled out that Abbas could cancel the elections or postpone them due to regional and international pressure if he fails to be ready to face Fatah’s main rival, Hamas.

Meanwhile, the differences within Fatah are increasing. The Secretary of its Central Committee, Jibril Al-Rajoub failed last week to prevent the formation of different electoral lists for Fatah members and leaders.

Al-Akhbar said that Al-Rajoub had laid down a roadmap for the elections that meets the demands of Barghouti and Al-Qidwa, but falls far behind their vision in relation to fighting corruption and supporting Palestinian resistance against the occupation.

Senior Fatah official Qadura Fares has announced that he will not stand for election. Fares is the director of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club and said that he is not standing as a candidate because of the “numerous painful conditions for the democratic process that makes the factional agenda superior to national interests.”

Moreover, another senior Fatah official, Nabil Amro, is apparently seeking to form his own list after rejecting the list proposed by the movement’s Central Committee, which does not put him among the top names. Former PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, the sources said, is working to form his own list and could possibly act in partnership with Amro.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Palestinian MP Khalida Jarrar Sentenced to 2 Years in Prison

Israel renewed administrative detention of Khalida Jarrar. (Photo: via MEMO)

An Israeli military court yesterday sentenced Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) movement member, Khalida Jarrar, to two years in prison and issued a fine of $1,200.

Heba Hamarsha, head of the media department at Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, told Anadolu Agency that the Ofer Military Court west of occupied Ramallah issued a prison sentence against Jarrar for a period of two years and a fine of 4,000 shekels ($1,212).

Jarrar was arrested in her home in Ramallah on October 31, 2019, and charged with “assuming a position in the PFLP, which is banned by the Israeli military.”

Jarrar is one of the prominent leaders of the PFLP, the second-largest faction in the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in the West Bank, and was elected a member of the former Legislative Council.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Catholic Churches Condemn Repeated Settler Attacks on Romanian Monastery in Jerusalem (VIDEO)

A Jewish settler attacks a Christian monastery in Jerusalem. (Photo: Video Grab)

The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land (ACOHL) condemned repeated Jewish settler attacks against the Romanian church monastery in Jerusalem.

In the last of the series of incidents, a group of Jewish settlers set fire to the entrance of the monastery of the Romanian Orthodox Church in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Musrara, close to the religious Jewish orthodox quarter.

The local priest managed to extinguish the fire quickly. Recordings of surveillance cameras showed Orthodox Jewish fundamentalists attempting to set the monastery entrance on fire.

“This act of vandalism is the fourth in a month that targeted the same monastery; according to the authorities, some religious Orthodox Jews are suspected as the probable assailants,” ACOHL said in a statement.

ACOHL condemned the “offensive” attack which undermines peaceful coexistence among different religious communities.

“We, Catholic Churches, unite with the Orthodox Churches and all other Christian communities of Jerusalem and strongly condemn such acts of vandalism that offend not only the life of Christians but also of many who still believe in dialogue and mutual respect. These acts are contrary to the spirit of peaceful coexistence among the different religious communities of the City,” it said.

It demanded that the Israeli authorities open a serious investigation into the attack and prosecute the assailants.

“All political and religious authorities of the City should unite in condemning these acts so frequent in these last months in Jerusalem. For that reason, we demand the Israeli security authorities investigate these incidents seriously and bring assailants to justice,” it added.

“These acts and the rationale behind them prove, yet again, that it is necessary and urgent to work to make sure that all educational institutions in the Country educate their pupils on tolerance and respect to other religions, communities, and nations,” it said.

“We pray to the Almighty for granting wisdom to learn to live alongside each other, respecting each other’s dignity and rights,” the Assembly concluded.

(WAFA, PC, Social Media)

Pompeo Claims ‘Many’ in Saudi Arabia Want Normalization with Israel

Mike Pompeo addresses the Republican National Convention from Jerusalem. (Photo: Video Grab)

Former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo said “many” people in Saudi Arabia want normalized relations with Israel, voicing hope the kingdom will join the Abraham Accords agreed during Donald Trump’s administration.

Pompeo, who served as Trump’s CIA director and top diplomat, made the comments in a recorded video address to the Combat Anti-Semitism Movement, which will give him its inaugural Global Leadership Award on Monday.

Under the Abraham Accords brokered by Trump last year, four majority Arab states – the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan – agreed to establish ties with Israel.

The Israeli press was rife with speculation about other Arab nations interested in joining the pact, with powerhouse Saudi Arabia widely regarded as a top prize for the Jewish state.

“Predicting the future has proven a struggle for me,” Pompeo said in remarks shared with AFP, adding that he thinks “many more” countries will seek ties with Israel.

“I hope that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia can find its way to join the Abraham Accords. I know that many inside that country want that to take place,” he said.

Sources in Jerusalem have said Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in November in the Red Sea city of Neom.

The meeting, denied by Riyadh, fueled frenzied speculation in Israel that a normalization deal might be close.

Publicly the kingdom has affirmed its decades-old policy of not establishing ties with Israel until a deal is reached to resolve the Palestinian conflict.

(The New Arab, PC, Social Media)

Jewish Settlers Vandalize Water-Control Panel in West Bank

Israel deprives Palestinians of benefiting from natural resources of water. (Photo: via ActiveStills.org)

Jewish settlers today vandalized the electronic panel that controls the water supply to the village of Asira al-Qibliya, near the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, the Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors Israeli settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told WAFA that settlers from the illegal Jewish settlement of Yitzhar sneaked into the village and vandalized the electronic panel of the water tank that supplies water to the whole village.

Settler violence against Palestinians and their property is routine in the West Bank and is rarely prosecuted by Israeli authorities.

“Jewish settler violence should not be analyzed separately from the violence meted out by the Israeli army, but seen within the larger context of the violent Zionist ideology that governs Israeli society entirely,” wrote Palestinian author and editor of The Palestine Chronicle, Ramzy Baroud.

“Settler violence has long since become part of Palestinians’ daily life under occupation,” according to the Human Rights Group B’tselem. “Israeli security forces enable these actions, which result in Palestinian casualties – injuries and fatalities – as well as damage to land and property. In some cases, they even serve as an armed escort, or even join in the attacks”.

Between 500,000 and 600,000 Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements across occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank in violation of international law.

(Palestine Chronicle, WAFA, Social Media)