By Nathan Morley
This precedent-setting decision comes six years after the launch of an investigation of Israeli actions in the territories – relating in particular to the 50-day Gaza war in 2014.
The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, expressed anger at the decision, asserting that the International Criminal Court (ICC) – a body which Israel does not recognize – displayed ‘pure anti-Semitism’ and had ‘again demonstrated’ that it was a political, and not a legal, institution.
“The court ignores real war crimes and instead persecutes the state of Israel, a state with a firm democratic regime, which sanctifies the rule of law, and is not a member of the court,” Netanyahu said in a statement.
Israel gained control of the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967; however the Palestinians claim the area for their own state, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
The ICC decision opens the possibility of hearing war crimes cases brought against Israel by the Palestinian administration.
The ICC's chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, has previously stated that she was convinced war crimes had been or were being committed in these areas, and that there was ‘a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation’.
With that in mind, the ruling could open the way for a formal probe to be opened for actions that occurred in territories occupied by Israel.