Lebanon moves towards ICC jurisdiction over Israeli war crimes

Lebanon has moved towards officially acknowledging the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction to prosecute Israeli violations that have occurred on its soil since October, according to Al Arabiya and agencies on April 27.

Human Rights Watch said on April 27, that this move represented a “landmark step” toward achieving justice for war crimes committed by Israel.

“The Lebanese government has taken a landmark step toward securing justice for war crimes in the country,” said Lama Fakih, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

“This is an important reminder to those who flout their obligations under the laws of war that they may find themselves in the dock,” added Fakih.

Lebanon has accused Israel of violating international law and its sovereignty since October 8.

During the border war between Israel and Hezbollah, at least 70 civilians have been killed – amongst them children, emergency responders, and journalists – in addition to a Reuters visual reporter, Isaam Abdallah.

Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati voted on April 26 to file a decree instructing the foreign affairs ministry to accept the ICC’s jurisdiction in investigating and prosecuting crimes committed against Lebanon over the last six months.

READ: French FM in Lebanon to mediate Israeli-Hezbollah conflict

This is not the first attempt to hold Israel legally accountable over its actions.

South Africa’s decision on December 29 to initiate a court case against Israel, accusing the latter of “genocide”, through the International Court of Justice.

While the ICJ deals with state violations of law, the ICC is a criminal court – bringing cases against individuals for war crimes or crimes against humanity.

The ICJ ultimately ruled that Israel must take all “necessary and effective measures to ensure, without delay, in full co-operation with the United Nations, the unhindered provision at scale by all concerned of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance” yet did not find it guilty.

Despite this, South Africa has maintained pressure on the ICJ to hold Israel to account, with Ireland recently backing the case. The court case also brought Gaza – and the grave human rights abuses committed by Israel – to the international stage.

READ: Ireland ready to intervene in Israel’s ICJ genocide case

The Lebanese foreign ministry was also instructed to include a report prepared by independent research institute, the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO).

The report includes a detailed review of Reuters reporter Isaam Abdallah’s killing, relying on evidence from shrapnel, his flak jackets, a camera and tripod that Reuters collected. Video and audio material was also reviewed.

While neither Lebanon or Israel are members of the Hague-based ICC, Lebanon’s declaration grants the court an official jurisdiction in examining and prosecuting the crimes highlighted.

 

Al Arabiya / Agencies

 

 

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