The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor expressed deep concern Sunday over conditions in the Gaza Strip.
“It is with grave concern that I note the violence and deteriorating situation in the Gaza Strip in the context of recent mass demonstrations. Since March 30, 2018, at least 27 Palestinians have been reportedly killed by the Israeli Defense Forces, with over a thousand more injured, many as a result of shootings using live ammunition and rubber bullets,” Fatou Bensouda said in a written statement.
Bensouda asserted that such violence against civilians could constitute “crimes under the Rome Statute of the ICC”. She further said the situation in Palestine is currently under “preliminary examination” by the ICC.
“I am aware that the demonstrations in the Gaza Strip are planned to continue further. My Office will continue to closely watch the situation and will record any instance of incitement or resort to unlawful force. I urge all those concerned to refrain from further escalating this tragic situation,” she said.
She reminded all parties that “any person who incites or engages in acts of violence including ordering, requesting, encouraging or contributing” any means of crime within the ICC’s jurisdiction “is liable to prosecution before the Court”.
“The resort to violence must stop,” Bensouda added.
Since March 30 when peaceful protests started marking the 42nd anniversary of Land Day that were dubbed “the Great March of Return”, 31 Palestinians have been martyred by Israeli snipers, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
Border rallies which began last Friday kicked off a six-week demonstration that will culminate on May 15. That day will mark the 70th anniversary of Israel’s establishment — an event Palestinians call the “Nakba” or “Catastrophe”.
Demonstrators are demanding that Palestinian refugees be granted the “right of return” to their towns and villages in historical Palestine from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel.
Israel, for its part, has deployed thousands of troops along the fraught border with Gaza, vowing to use deadly force against anyone who threatens Israel’s “security infrastructure”.