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© AFP 2018 / Martijn Beekman
This file photo taken on November 23, 2015 shows the building of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, The Netherlands
Israel has commented on the Palestinian request to the International Criminal Court to investigate the violence on the Gaza border during the Great March of Return protests, saying that the country is exploiting the international body for political purposes.

Meanwhile, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki has arrived at the International Criminal Court to bring what Palestinians claim to be "sufficient compelling evidence of the ongoing commission of grave crimes to warrant an immediate investigation," calling for a swift investigation into the issue.

"On behalf of the Palestinian people the State of Palestine exercises its right as state party to the Rome Statute [of the ICC] to refer the situation of Palestine to the International Criminal Court for an immediate investigation as just concluded in meeting with Madame prosecutor," the minister said at a press conference at the ICC.


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'War crimes': Palestine calls on ICC to investigate Israeli 'human rights violations'

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry has asked the International Criminal Court to open a probe into Israeli violations against Palestinians, linked to illegal settlements, calling Tel Aviv's actions "crimes against humanity".

The settlements are "the single most dangerous threat to Palestinian lives, livelihoods, and national rights," the ministry said in a statement released on Facebook. Israel called the move "cynical" and claimed the request to the ICC has no legal validity.

Saying that while "Israel maintains, expands, and protects the settlement regime by committing war crimes, crimes against humanity," Palestinians are not seeking revenge but redress and "justice for the crime of apartheid against the Palestinian people."

Palestine exercised its right as a State Party to the Rome Statute - the treaty that established the ICC - to refer the situation in the region to the international tribunal. The ministry says that Palestinian people "continue to suffer from ongoing, widespread and systematic crimes" committed by Israel.

Palestine says that among the "grave crimes" committed against its people are forcible transfer, unlawful killing of peaceful protesters, and the demolition of Palestinian homes. The Israeli policy of mass arbitrary detention and torture also fall under the court's jurisdiction. "This step [Palestine's call to the ICC] is intended to ensure that those most responsible for these crimes are held accountable for their actions without further delay," the ministry stated. [...]

The minister stated that the Palestinian request authorized the ICC prosecutors to look into the alleged offenses in Palestine from June 2014 onward.

"What the ICC and prosecutors should really do is really to look into all of that and decide to open an investigation," Malki underlined.

A meeting between the Palestinian official and prosecutor Fatou Bensouda was scheduled for Tuesday morning.

Commenting on the referral Tuesday, the Israeli Foreign Ministry called it invalid as the court has no jurisdiction over the issue.

"The purported Palestinian referral is legally invalid, and the ICC lacks jurisdiction over the Israeli-Palestinian issue, since Israel is not a member of the Court and because the Palestinian Authority is not a state," the statement read.

The Palestinian top diplomat is expected to present the prosecutor with a short review on the situation in the Palestinian territories, as well as to submit a referral on the Israeli settlements in the self-proclaimed state during the talks, as the Palestinian Embassy in The Hague stated prior to the meeting.

Tense Situation Along Israel-Gaza Border

The Israeli border with the Gaza Strip has been a trouble spot for decades, but the situation has escalated since March 30, amid the Palestinians holding mass rallies near the Gaza Strip border, known as the Great March of Return.

The tensions further escalated last Monday, when over 60 Palestinian protesters were killed and more than 2,700 injured in clashes with the Israeli Defense Forces in light of the opening of the US Embassy in the city of Jerusalem. The Israeli forces have been suppressing the demonstrators using lethal weapons, citing security concerns and accusing Hamas of provocations amid the protests.