phase: Preliminary Examinations, Subject Matter Jurisdiction Assessement
The Preliminary Examination of the Situation in Palestine focuses on alleged atrocity crimes committed during an armed conflict, also known as the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict or Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, which involved Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and Palestinian armed groups (Hamas’ Internal Security Forces and Al-Qassam Brigades). The armed conflict occurred between July 7 and August 26, 2014.
In 1948, with the official end of Great Britain’s colonial mandate and the declaration of Israel’s independence as a state, the League of Arab States declared it would protect the rights of Palestinians and attacked Israel. Israel defense forces repelled the Arab forces. In 1967, in the Six-Day War, Israel again defeated Arab forces and gained control of the Sinai Peninsula (later returned to Egypt), the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. Israel’s control of these territories has led to a decades-long conflict with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. In 2005, Israel withdrew its military forces and settlers from Gaza but maintained control over the territory through a border barrier as well as a naval blockade.
In July 2014, due to a murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank by Palestinian extremists and a retaliatory murder of a Palestinian teenager in East Jerusalem by Israeli extremists, tensions were heightened between Hamas-governed Gaza and Israel. Israel launched an air strike campaign and a ground invasion against Hamas military targets in Gaza. Palestinian armed groups and the IDF allegedly launched attacks near residential areas, hospitals, and schools; the IDF attacked six UNRWA schools in Gaza. On August 26, 2014, the Israeli government and the Palestinian government signed a peace agreement which established a ceasefire. In the course of the conflict, the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict reported that over 2,100 Palestinians, including 1,462 civilians, were killed and over 65 Israelis, including 6 civilians, were killed.
Palestine is a State Party of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and ratified the Rome Statute on January 2, 2015. On January 22, 2009, the Palestinian Authority submitted a declaration (dated January 21, 2009) recognizing ICC jurisdiction over alleged atrocity crimes committed on its territory. After receiving the declaration, the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) opened a preliminary examination. In November 2012 report, the OTP decided that, as of April 3, 2012, due to Palestine’s UN “observer entity” status, the declaration could not be accepted and closed the preliminary examination. In November 2013 report, the OTP decided that, as of November 29, 2012, due to Palestine’s UN “non-member observer state” status, a new declaration could be accepted. On January 1, 2015, the government of Palestine submitted a new declaration (dated December 31, 2014) recognizing ICC jurisdiction over alleged atrocity crimes committed on its territory since June 13, 2014. On January 16, 2015, after receiving the new declaration, the OTP opened a preliminary examination.
As of November 2016, the preliminary examination of Palestine is in the subject-matter jurisdiction assessment phase. The OTP reported that the OTP will continue its assessment “in order to establish whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation.”
For more information on the preliminary examination in Palestine, please visit the ICC page.