Palestinian Territory - The International Criminal Court (ICC) should open a country office in Palestine to expedite its investigations into the crimes committed by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The ICC must include the crimes that Israel has been committing in the Gaza Strip since last October.

The ICC should take such action to facilitate and finish its investigations on the ground; ascertain the circumstances surrounding the commission of these crimes and their consequences; review the facts of the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in its entirety; gain access to, and operate in, all areas where these crimes are committed, including the Gaza Strip;and be able to view and exchange all evidence quickly and effectively in a way that ensures its safe and secure preservation.

Meeting with the victims and their families face-to-face, calling witnesses when necessary, and supporting forms of coordination and cooperation with the national authorities and capable local institutions are all crucial steps toward establishing some measure of justice in Palestine. These actions will help bring the perpetrators to justice by holding them accountable and fairly compensating victims.

The ICC maintains country offices in numerous countries where investigations are underway. Notably, the Court has its largest office outside The Hague in Kyiv, Ukraine, as well as offices in Uganda, Kenya, Mali, Georgia, Ivory Coast, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Karim Khan, the ICC Prosecutor, has acknowledged the significance of establishing country offices in countries whose cases the Court is reviewing. He recently announced before the United Nations Security Council that the ICC is seeking to open a new country office in Libya, citing the possibility that doing so would aid in the investigations and implementation of necessary resolutions pertaining to the Libyan situation and the obligations of the Rome Statute, which formthe basis of the Court’s legal framework.

Generally, the ICC has dealt with the situation in Palestine from the beginning with repeated and unjustified delays and procrastination.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine prompted the ICC to open an investigation within less than a month, while it took over six years for the ICC to finally announce the opening of an investigation into the situation in Palestine on 3 March 2021.

Just three months after the former Public Prosecutor of the Court, Fatou Bensouda, announced on 3 March the opening of an investigation into the situation in the State of Palestine, her term of office ended and Khan took over.

The case file on Palestine has not witnessed any significant development since then, despite the passage of over three years since the official announcement of the investigation into the situation, plus nearly eightmonths of Israeli genocide against Palestinians in the Strip, which has included the most serious war crimes, crimes of aggression, and crimes against humanity. Israel has committed these crimes in the Gaza Strip in full view of the Court, its Prosecutor, and the entire world.

Instead of adopting Israel’s strategy of denying entry toUN and international fact-finding and investigative committees, the ICC Prosecutor must establish a national office and take all necessary steps in cooperation with the States Parties to the Rome Statute. The Israeli approach, meanwhile, obfuscates the truth and destroys opportunities to gather necessary evidence to prove the commission of crimes and identify their perpetrators, thereby enabling them to evade punishment.

The Israeli blockade deprives international justice of its true meaning when the countries committing these crimes mortgage their rights over them. The blockade fundamentally violates Israel’s obligations under international law, including the ruling made by the International Court of Justice on 26 January 2024. According to this ruling, Israel is required to protect evidence of the genocide that the ICJ ordered Israel to try to prevent.

As a first step toward achieving international justice for the Palestinian people, as well as partial compensation for the historical injustice from which it is still suffering and justice for its surviving victims, the ICC must begin investigating the situation in Palestine. The Court needs to take the long-awaited legal measures and issue arrest warrants for the Israeli officials involved in committing crimes against the Palestinians, prosecute them, and hold them accountable.

This will end the impunity that Israel has long enjoyedby subjecting it to the same system of international law as other countries and establishing a state of pressure and deterrent influence to prevent the commission of further crimes against Palestinians as swiftly as possible.

International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khanmust make legal decisions as soon as possible and follow the Court’s procedural rules and rules of evidence in accordance with the Rome Statute. This will help to ensure that those responsible for grave crimes that threaten international peace and security are held accountable, both criminally and civilly, for the benefit of the victims as well as the larger peace and justice of the world. Additionally, the Court will be able to fulfil its primary responsibility of reviving criminal justice, irrespective of the identity of the suspect or the victim.

The international community, in all its forms, should work to support the Court’s work in establishing justice in view of Israel’s ongoing failure to uphold its international obligations to prevent and stop serious crimes, and the grave violations it has committed against the Palestinian people over the past 76 years. Israel has committed atrocities including war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, while other nations are complicit, given their involvement in maintaining Israel’s illegal ongoing military occupation of Palestine by providing various forms of military, political, financial, and media support to Israel.

All nations are required to carry out their moral and legal duties; abide by any legitimate requests for arrest or extradition; and work together to apprehend any Israeli officials that orders are issued against, i.e. stop them from escaping and quickly turn them over to the ICC, in compliance with all applicable international laws and regulations.

States Parties to the 1949 Geneva Conventions are specifically required to carry out their obligations under these Conventions, which include opening criminal investigations in their national courts using the principle of universal jurisdiction, and apprehending and prosecuting those who violate these agreements, in compliance with applicable international law.