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November 9, 2014 – Shurat Hadin – Israel Law Center filed Monday a war crimes complaint with the International Criminal Court Prosecutor against Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
The NGO is using a procedural move that it has previously used to file a similar complaint against Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal on September 3, in that it has said both Mashaal and Abbas are Jordanian citizens.
Jordan, unlike Israel or the Palestinian Authority, accepted ICC jurisdiction over its citizens in April 2002, removing the obstacle that until now has blocked most proposals for bringing the ICC into the conflict.
The basis for the complaint is reports of Fatah-affiliated armed groups firing significant numbers of rockets on Israel from Gaza during Operation Protective Edge war along with Hamas, who fired most of the rockets.
The NGO argued that Abbas is vicariously liable for the Fatah armed groups’ actions as their leader, though it recognized that publicly Abbas opposed the rocket fire.
Due to Abbas’s public position and other procedural hurdles, the complaint could be an uphill battle.
If Shurat Hadin does not win this case, it is ready to go after Abbas for terrorist attacks during the second intifada should he ever decide to have the Palestinian Authority join the ICC’s Rome Statute.
In that case, the NGO would likely have a wealth of evidence that Abbas approved financial payments to terrorists and their families for undertaking terrorist attacks, as well as naming places and institutions in honor of terrorists.
The complaint against Mashaal was not directed at Hamas rocket attacks on Israel, but at alleged war crimes Hamas perpetrated against the Gazan population.
The complaint alleged that on August 22, 2014, Hamas “executed 18 so-called collaborators who had been convicted of no crime,” including “publicly execut[ing] seven of these ‘collaborators.’” Moreover, the complaint said that on July 28, 2014, Hamas summarily executed 20 Gazan civilians for engaging in anti-war protests against its rule in the Strip.
Shurat Hadin head Nitsana Darshan- Leitner said that the organization “will not allow Fatah to carry out rocket attacks on Israeli population centers, while hypocritically advocating Palestinian membership in the ICC. Abbas falsely believes that alleged crimes against Arabs are the only ones that should be prosecuted.”
Previously, Israeli lawyer Mordechai Tzivin has asked the ICC to indict Abbas, but the request was rejected on the grounds that the Palestinian Authority has not joined the ICC.