Reporting war Crimes in Palestine

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There have always been German victims of war crimes in Palestine, and they are existing now. For example, a German father with Palestinian roots visiting his family in the Gaza Strip: He rushes to help residents of an adjacent residential home which has been hit by an Israeli bomb and is seriously injured by a renewed attack or by a falling beam.

Until now, German victims had to turn to the Federal Prosecutor General in Karlsruhe who is prosecuting genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, at least as long as they have a connection with Germany. According to their website, they not only prosecute perpetraters but also collect evidence and interrogate witnesses. however, upon a search with the word "Gaza", there is only one hit, namely a press release of December 14, 2023, that four suspected members of the "terrorist organisation 'Hamas'" had been arrested.

The chances of victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity within the so-called "Occupied Palestinian Territories" to obtain justice have improved considerably.

In February 2021, the International Criminal Court in The Hague (ICC) has decided that its jurisdiction would also comprise the territories occupied by Israel since 1967, namely "Gaza and the Westbank, including East Jerusalem". 

Since the brutal attack of Hamas and allied fighters on Israeli territory on October 7, 2023, much has happened.

Israel's bombardment and ground operations as well as the complete blockade by Israel ("there will be no electricity, no food, no water, no fuel", so Israel’s defense minister) have led to more than 23.000 deaths with a majority of women and children, almost 60.000 wounded and many maimed, including many children. More than 85 per cent of the population is displaced and the infrastructure including hospitals, schools, sewage systems and also agricultural land, are destroyed or severely damaged.

In light of the imminent humanitarian catastrophe, including imminent irreversible damage to children's health caused by exposure, malnutrition and lack of access to clean water and the lack of hygiene and medical care for pregnant women and newborns, even the - compared to his South African predecessor more hesitating - British Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in Den Haag is open to a prosecution of Israeli perpetrators.

Recently, the ICC has created a link on its website Information for victims - State of Palestine, by which every person or group may transmit information with respect to any war crimes in the Occupied Palestinian Territories including Gaza In addition, victims of violence concerning the "Palestinian situation" which could constitute crimes according to the statute of the ICC, may apply for being recognized as victims for the purposes of participation in potential judicial proceedings including in potential future cases against one or more suspects.

For the question whether the State of Israel can justify its acts as self-defence under Article 51 of the UN Charter within the Occupied Palestinian Territories, find more on my website under ICJ Advisory Opinion of 2004 haunts Israel – no right of self-defence in Gaza. For more information about the proceedings before the International Court of Justice re genocide in Gaza, which have been started by South Africa against Israel, see the website of the Internationall Court of Justice.

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Weitere Rechtstipps von Rechtsanwältin Dr. Jutta Stoll LL.M.

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