For the past 73 years the Palestinians have sought justice for crimes committed against them since the newly-created world body -- the United Nations -- set up the State of Israel within Palestine on Palestinian lands. Palestinians have accused the State of Israel and Israeli organisations of continuously committing War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity.
Over the years, the cries of Palestinians have gone largely unheeded, with the US blocking efforts to investigate allegations of war crimes. However on February 9 this year, the International Criminal Court (ICC) ruled that it has jurisdiction over grave crimes committed in occupied Palestinian territory.
Sympathy for the Jewish cause had grown during the genocide of European Jews during the Holocaust. And, on Nov. 29, 1947, western nations together with the US and the then Soviet Union, via the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) effectively permitted the division of Palestine -- via a resolution calling for Palestine to be partitioned between the Arabs and the Jews thus sllowing for the formation of the Jewish state of Israel on Palestinian territory.
The partition plan envisaged the division of Palestine into three Jewish sections, four Arab sections and the internationally-administered city of Jerusalem. The plan had strong support among Western nations. The Palestinian leadership and Arab States rejected partition as unacceptable, given the inequality in the proposed population exchange and the transfer of one-third of Palestine, including most of its best agricultural land, to recent Jewish immigrants.
On April 9, 1948 (weeks prior to the State of Israel coming into existence on May 14, 1948) around 120 members of underground Jewish militia groups invaded the Palestinian Arab village of Deir Yassin, killing between 100 and 250 people including men, women, children and the elderly. There were reports of mutilations, rapes and survivors being paraded through Jewish neighbourhoods before being summarily executed.
The atrocity has been described as one of the worst massacres of the Israel-Palestine conflict. The village and its buildings are today part of the Kfar Shaul Mental Health Centre, an Israeli public psychiatric hospital.
Today 73 years later, Israeli attacks against Palestine and its Arab neighbours continue. Today Israel militarily occupies approximately 78 per cent of historical Palestine, consisting of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. Israel also occupies the Sinai Peninsula and the Syrian Golan Heights while its killing of Palestinians continues unabated with ‘Quora’ reporting that around 25,000 Palestinians have been killed since 1948.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) estimates that the conflict has created more than 1.5 million Palestinian refugees. They live in 58 recognised Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
The BBC and Human Rights Watch along with other HR organisations had accused Israel in January 2009 of using phosphorus shells (a banned substance) on Palestinian civilian targets. The ruling of the International Criminal Court (ICC) therefore, that it does have jurisdiction over grave crimes committed in occupied Palestinian territory is a watershed in the Palestinians’ search for justice. It is indeed the first tiny flicker of hope for justice to the long oppressed Palestinian people.
While the United Nations has taken a small step towards confronting big power interests; the ruling itself is a giant step forward in mankind’s quest to hold war criminals and their ilk, (especially those backed by powerful geo-political forces) that they can no longer commit crimes against humanity with impunity by ‘hiding behind the skirts’ of their masters.
Sadly, the action of the ICC to investigate alleged Israeli War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity against the Palestinians, is opposed not only by Israel, but by the US and other so-called western democracies. These countries, portray themselves as defenders of democracy and human rights. But, despite all evidence to the contrary, they refuse to condemn even in the mildest terms Israel’s belligerency and its continued illegal actions against the Palestinian people.
All right thinking people condemned the use of barrel bombs by Syrian leader Assad during the civil war in that country. But the ‘champions of human rights worldwide’ led by the US are unwilling to investigate and hold responsible those Israelis behind the phosphorus bomb attacks and other crimes against Palestinian civilians.
Even worse, the US Democratic Party which condemned ex-President Donald Trump’s shifting of the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, has made no effort to move away from this decision. Even worse the present Biden administration was the first to condemn the action of the ICC to investigate Israeli crimes in Palestine.