Accountability for International Crimes in Palestine

At a Glance

Date Filed: 

December 20, 2019

Current Status 

On December 20, 2019, the Prosecutor requested that the Pre-Trial Chamber confirm that the territory over which the Court can exercise jurisdiction in the Situation of Palestine is the Gaza Strip and West Bank, including East Jerusalem. On February 5, 2021, the Pre-Trial Chamber issued its decision, recognizing that the territory of Palestine, comprising Gaza and the West Bank including East Jerusalem, as a State Party to the ICC, falls within the Court's jurisdiction for investigative purposes. On March 3, 2021, the Prosecutor announced the opening of an investigation in Palestine.

Case Description 

On January 2, 2015, the State of Palestine acceded to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), and, on April 1, 2015, Palestine became the 123rd Member State of the ICC. Palestine granted the ICC jurisdiction over crimes committed on the territory of Palestine, including East Jerusalem, since June 13, 2014. The Prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda, opened a preliminary examination into crimes committed in Palestine on January 16, 2015, and the State of Palestine referred the situation for investigation on May 15, 2018. Over the course of the preliminary examination, Palestinian human rights organizations and victims made submissions in which they set forth war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Israeli officials, including in relation to the 2014 military offensive on Gaza, in the context of the Great March of Return, and as a result of the settlement enterprise and persecution resulting from the ongoing siege of Gaza. On December 20, 2019, the Prosecutor concluded that there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity committed on the territory of Palestine  the Gaza Strip and West Bank, including East Jerusalem  and asked the Pre-Trial Chamber to confirm the scope of the territorial jurisdiction of the Court. The Pre-Trial Chamber invited victims to submit observations on the Prosecutor's request, and Center for Consitutional Rights attorney Katherine Gallagher made a submission on behalf of twenty Palestinian victims of persecution from all parts of Palestine and the diaspora. On April 29, 2020, the Center for Constitutional Rights joined more than 180 Palestinian, regional, and international human rights organizations in signing an open letter to the ICC Prosecutor expressing support for the opening of an investigation without delay.
 
For other cases seeking to hold Israeli officials accountable for serious violations of international law or corporations complicit in human rights violations in Palestine, see Matar v. Dichter; Belhas v. Ya'alon; Corrie et al v. Caterpillar; and Doğan v. Barak. For other Center for Consitutional Rights cases seeking accountability for crimes against humanity or war crimes at the ICC, see Accountability for International Crimes in Afghanistan and Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) re: High-Level Vatican Officials.

Case Timeline

April 2, 2021
Biden administration repeals Trump-era Executive Order that instituted sanctions against International Criminal Court officials
April 2, 2021
Biden administration repeals Trump-era Executive Order that instituted sanctions against International Criminal Court officials
March 3, 2021
ICC Prosecutor announces opening of investigation in Palestine
February 17, 2021
Joint letter to Biden Administration to repeal ICC sanctions
February 17, 2021
Joint letter to Biden Administration to repeal ICC sanctions
80 organizations call on the President to rescind Executive Order 13928 and all sanctions measures against ICC officials instituted by the previous administration.
February 5, 2021
Pre-Trial Chamber issues decision recognizing territory of Palestine falls within Court's jurisdiction for investigation
February 5, 2021
Pre-Trial Chamber issues decision recognizing territory of Palestine falls within Court's jurisdiction for investigation
The majority of the Pre-Trial Chamber recognizes that the territory of Palestine, comprising Gaza and the West Bank including East Jerusalem, as a State Party to the ICC, falls within the Court's jurisdiction for investigative purposes. The Prosecutor had found that there is a reasonable basis to believe that crimes on the territory of Palestine have been committed, and the Situation should proceed to investigation.
May 26, 2020
Pre-Trial Chamber requests additional information from State of Palestine
May 26, 2020
Pre-Trial Chamber requests additional information from State of Palestine
The State of Palestine files its submission on June 4, 2020, and the Prosecutor files a response on June 8, 2020.
April 30, 2020
ICC Prosecutor files response brief
March 16, 2020
Victims and amicus curiae file observations on Request
March 16, 2020
Victims and amicus curiae file observations on Request
December 20, 2019
Prosecutor files Request under article 19(3) to confirm ICC's territorial jurisdiction in Situation of Palestine
December 20, 2019
Prosecutor files Request under article 19(3) to confirm ICC's territorial jurisdiction in Situation of Palestine
May 15, 2018
State of Palestine refers Situation for investigation
May 15, 2018
State of Palestine refers Situation for investigation
January 16, 2015
ICC Prosecutor opens preliminary examination into Situation of Palestine
January 16, 2015
ICC Prosecutor opens preliminary examination into Situation of Palestine
January 2, 2015
State of Palestine accedes to Rome Statute of ICC, becoming 123rd ICC State Party
January 2, 2015
State of Palestine accedes to Rome Statute of ICC, becoming 123rd ICC State Party