AM 720 KDWN
News, Traffic, Weather

Palestinians mull war crime charges against Israel

KDWN

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is seeking written pledges of support from all political factions, including rival Hamas, before making any attempt to press for possible war crimes charges against Israel, senior officials said Thursday.

Abbas hesitated in the past because such a step would transform his relations with Israel from tense to openly hostile and could put him on a collision course with the United States.

But with nearly 1,400 Palestinians killed in Israel-Hamas fighting in Gaza in the past 24 days, according to health officials, Abbas is under growing domestic pressure to turn to the International Criminal Court to try to make a case against Israel.

Israeli officials have said Israel is acting in self-defense by targeting Hamas’ military arsenal and rocket-launching sites and have accused Hamas of using Gaza civilians as human shields.

Earlier Thursday, the U.N.’s top human rights official accused both Israel and Hamas of committing war crimes in the current Gaza fighting.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Hamas is committing war crimes by firing rockets from heavily populated areas and storing them in schools and hospitals.

She said Israel has defied international law in Gaza by attacking civilian areas with schools, hospitals, homes and U.N. facilities.

“None of this appears to me to be accidental,” Pillay said of Israel at a news conference in Geneva to mark the end of her six-year term. “They appear to be defying – deliberate defiance of – obligations that international law imposes on Israel.”

She also criticized Israel’s strikes on Gaza’s power plant, sewer systems and water wells as part of a similar pattern of destruction during the 2009 Gaza war.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor declined comment.

Hamas has portrayed its rocket fire on Israel as resistance to Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

With the Palestinian casualties in Gaza mounting, leaders of political factions in the West Bank have repeatedly urged Abbas to seek Palestinian accession to the International Criminal Court.

“We have been pressing him for a long time,” independent legislator Mustafa Barghouti said Thursday.

At a meeting with political leaders on Tuesday, Abbas asked participants to sign a declaration of support for such a move, said Barghouti, adding that everyone signed.

The final decision, on when to seek accession, would still be up to Abbas, according to other participants who spoke on condition of anonymity because there were discussing internal deliberation.

They said Abbas also told them he would not move forward without written consent from Hamas and Islamic Jihad because they could expose themselves to possible war crimes charges.

Abbas’ Fatah movement wrote on its official Facebook page that Abbas is seeking broad consensus, in part because of the potential repercussions for Hamas.

“Regarding the question a large number of brothers and sisters, `why dont you go to the International Criminal Court,’ the leadership of the State of Palestine will sign the Rome Statute all the way to the International Criminal Court after … the approval of all the Palestinian factions, including Fatah and Hamas and Islamic Jihad, because this option is a double-edged sword,” Fatah wrote.

Hamas officials in Gaza were not immediately available for comment.

Heilprin reported from Geneva.

Palestinians mull war crime charges against Israel

KDWN

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is seeking written pledges of support from all political factions, including rival Hamas, before making any attempt to press for possible war crimes charges against Israel, senior officials said Thursday.

Abbas hesitated in the past because such a step would transform his relations with Israel from tense to openly hostile and could put him on a collision course with the United States.

But with nearly 1,400 Palestinians killed in Israel-Hamas fighting in Gaza in the past 24 days, according to health officials, Abbas is under growing domestic pressure to turn to the International Criminal Court to try to make a case against Israel.

Israeli officials have said Israel is acting in self-defense by targeting Hamas’ military arsenal and rocket-launching sites and have accused Hamas of using Gaza civilians as human shields.

Earlier Thursday, the U.N.’s top human rights official accused both Israel and Hamas of committing war crimes in the current Gaza fighting.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Hamas is committing war crimes by firing rockets from heavily populated areas and storing them in schools and hospitals.

She said Israel has defied international law in Gaza by attacking civilian areas with schools, hospitals, homes and U.N. facilities.

“None of this appears to me to be accidental,” Pillay said of Israel at a news conference in Geneva to mark the end of her six-year term. “They appear to be defying – deliberate defiance of – obligations that international law imposes on Israel.”

She also criticized Israel’s strikes on Gaza’s power plant, sewer systems and water wells as part of a similar pattern of destruction during the 2009 Gaza war.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor declined comment.

Hamas has portrayed its rocket fire on Israel as resistance to Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

With the Palestinian casualties in Gaza mounting, leaders of political factions in the West Bank have repeatedly urged Abbas to seek Palestinian accession to the International Criminal Court.

“We have been pressing him for a long time,” independent legislator Mustafa Barghouti said Thursday.

At a meeting with political leaders on Tuesday, Abbas asked participants to sign a declaration of support for such a move, said Barghouti, adding that everyone signed.

The final decision, on when to seek accession, would still be up to Abbas, according to other participants who spoke on condition of anonymity because there were discussing internal deliberation.

They said Abbas also told them he would not move forward without written consent from Hamas and Islamic Jihad because they could expose themselves to possible war crimes charges.

Abbas’ Fatah movement wrote on its official Facebook page that Abbas is seeking broad consensus, in part because of the potential repercussions for Hamas.

“Regarding the question a large number of brothers and sisters, `why dont you go to the International Criminal Court,’ the leadership of the State of Palestine will sign the Rome Statute all the way to the International Criminal Court after … the approval of all the Palestinian factions, including Fatah and Hamas and Islamic Jihad, because this option is a double-edged sword,” Fatah wrote.

Hamas officials in Gaza were not immediately available for comment.

Heilprin reported from Geneva.

Palestinians mull war crime charges against Israel

KDWN

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Palestinian officials say President Mahmoud Abbas is seeking broad political support, including from rival Hamas, before making any attempt to press possible war crimes charges against Israel.

Abbas is under pressure to turn the International Criminal Court on the issue, as the death toll in Gaza rises.

Independent legislator Mustafa Barghouti revealed Thursday that Abbas asked for and received written support for such a move from the heads of PLO factions this week. Participants in the meeting say Abbas also wants written support from the Hamas and Islamic Jihad militant groups. They are vulnerable to war crimes charges because of their indiscriminate rocket fire at Israel.

Earlier, the top U.N. human rights official accused both sides of committing war crimes.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

The U.N.’s top human rights official accused both Israel and Hamas militants of committing war crimes in the latest Gaza war, but reserved her harshest words for the Israeli government, which she said Thursday was deliberately defying international law.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said that by placing and firing rockets within heavily populated areas both sides are committing “a violation of international humanitarian law, therefore a war crime.”

“Locating rockets within schools and hospitals, or even launching these rockets from densely populated areas are violations of international humanitarian law,” Pillay said, referring to Hamas, but added that doesn’t “absolve” Israel from disregarding the same law.

Around 1,300 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 59 Israelis, mainly soldiers, have been killed in the latest violence.

Israeli’s initial aerial campaign against Hamas broadened to a ground offensive on July 17. Pillay said the government has defied international law in Gaza by attacking civilian areas with schools, hospitals, homes and U.N. facilities.

“None of this appears to me to be accidental,” Pillay said of Israel at a news conference in Geneva to mark the end of her six-year term. “They appear to be defying – deliberate defiance of – obligations that international law imposes on Israel.”

She also criticized Israel’s strikes on Gaza’s power plant, sewer systems and water wells as part of a similar pattern of destruction during the 2009 Gaza war.

“What I’m seeing now is a recurrence of the very acts that the Gaza fact-finding mission indicated as constituting war crimes and crimes against humanity,” she said.

Pillay also took aim at the U.S., Israel’s main ally, for providing financial support for Israel’s Iron Dome anti-rocket defense system.

“No such protection has been provided to Gazans against the shelling,” she said.