0256 GMT October 20, 2019
The ICC team arrived in the Palestinian territories on Wednesday and will depart on October 10. The legal experts are not scheduled to pay a visit to the coastal sliver of Gaza, which has been the target of several Israeli wars as well as recurrent Israeli military incursions.
The ICC is conducting an investigation into the 2014 — the latest — Israeli war on Gaza, however.
The Court’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, has said her trip to the occupied Palestinian territories, which will take her and her entourage to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem al-Quds and the central West Bank city of Ramallah, is not connected to the ongoing initial inquiry on the 2014 Gaza war.
Nevertheless, in a statement released on Sunday, Hamas expressed regret at the ICC team’s refusal to visit Gaza, a decision it said had been made under the influence of Israel.
“It is regrettable that the ICC delegation yielded to the demands of the Israeli occupation to exclude the Gaza Strip from the delegation’s schedule, despite the fact that the Gaza Strip was the main site of Israeli crimes in 2014,” the Hamas statement read.
“As a result, Hamas considers the delegation’s visit pointless and useless. The visit has caused more pain and suffering for the families of victims who counted on the ICC to bring justice to them and bring the Israeli killers before the court,” the statement further read.
The 50-day Israeli military aggression against Gaza, which ended on August 26, 2014, killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians, including 577 children. Over 11,100 others — including 3,374 children, 2,088 women and 410 elderly people — were also wounded in the war.
Palestinians have been calling on the ICC to accelerate an investigation into the case of Israeli abuses and war crimes during the regime’s 2014 war on the besieged enclave.
Various human rights groups have accused Israel of committing war crimes in the 2014 onslaught and submitted several cases related to the regime’s devastating war on Gaza to the ICC.
Apart from the several bloody wars it has waged against the enclave, Tel Aviv sends its warplanes on sporadic fatal forays over the territory.
Gaza, with a population of more than 1.8 million, has been under siege by the Israeli regime since June 2007. The blockade has caused a decline in the standards of living as well as unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty.