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A group of farmers from the south of Israel arrived in the Netherlands on Monday, planning to file a lawsuit against Hamas in the International Criminal Court in the Hague.
The allegations include the burning of agricultural areas with the use of the incendiary devices, attacks on the Israeli border, the use of children in combat and of the civilian population of Gaza as human shields. Named as parties in the suit are Khaled Mashal, the head of Hamas’ political bureau, Saleh al-Arouri, Meshal’s deputy, and Zaher Jabarin, a top financial officer in Hamas. Jabarin was expelled from Israel after being released from Israeli prison as part of the prisoner exchange carried out to free the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
“What they are trying to do is to burn us, not just our fields. It’s a war crime and a crime against humanity,” farmer Ofer Lieberman told Israeli Army Radio ahead of his arrival at The Hague.
The farmers’ suit will be filed by Shurat Hadin, a civil rights non-governmental organization (NGO) focused on representing terrorism victims. Shurat Hadin has been successful in winning several multi-million dollar suits against terrorist organizations and governments.
Shurat HaDin’s president, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, released a statement about the suit.
“The existing security reality in which fields and forests in Israel are being burned every day by activists from a terrorist organization is unacceptable,” the statement read. “It is not acceptable that senior figures in Hamas accuse Israel of war crimes while they use [their] civilian population, particularly children, as a human shield for their terrorist activities – which are repeatedly directed at the citizens of Israel. As a result, we are calling on the International Criminal Court in The Hague to bring them to justice.”
Shurat Hadin stated that an ICC probe would find “blatant violation of the Rome Statute (Articles 8 (2) (c) (viii) and 28), which prohibits the murder of non-combatants, the destruction of civilian property for unlawful purposes and the use of civilians as human shields.”
The claim submitted by the group quoted a Hamas-affiliated group as saying: “Allah willing, (the incendiary devices) will light up and burn fields and houses (they will get to a place where it will burn a large area.)”
Shurat Hadin accused Hamas of being directly responsible by transporting civilians to the border and by openly issuing propaganda videos “advising civilians that the purpose of burning tires was to mask the movements of its military members, who had been directed to murder Israeli civilians.”
The complaint claimed that Israeli farmers have suffered heavy monetary damage from their crops being burned by incendiary devices launched from Gaza.The complaint also made note of the more-than 250 rockets Hamas has fired into Israel since the Hamas-led March of Return protests began in May.
The complaint filed by Shurat Hadin was signed by a many Israeli farmers as well as 50,000 people from around the world who support the farmers’ cause.