Recent incidents in the West Bank underscore the urgent need for accountability at the International Criminal Court as Israel’s open-fire regulations violate Palestinians’ most basic right to life.
Early Tuesday, an officer with the Shin Bet, Israel’s secret police agency, opened fire towards a vehicle near the West Bank city of Ramallah, striking the car’s windshield.
The officer reportedly thought he was shooting at a Palestinian motorist attempting an attack with his car.
It is a scenario that has unfolded dozens of times before, frequently resulting in the death of the Palestinian driver. But on Tuesday, the person behind the wheel was not a Palestinian. He was an Israeli who lives in a nearby settlement. When he came under fire, the driver reportedly got out of his car and, according to the Tel Aviv daily Haaretz, “shouted at the security forces [sic] that he is Jewish.” There had been no attempted attack on occupation forces.
The Israeli driver had hit a Palestinian car at a checkpoint “and continued to drive, at high speed,” Haaretz stated. The council of the settlement in which the Israeli driver resides stated that “miraculously, the driver was not hit.”
More than 750 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank and Gaza since October 2015 In January that year, Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, began her preliminary examination of the situation in Palestine. The preliminary examination concluded in December 2019.
The report on her preliminary probe identified Israel’s systemic use of live fire against unarmed Palestinians – particularly during Gaza’s Great March of Return protests – as a potential war crimes case that would arise from an investigation.
She also focused on Israel’s transfer of its civilian population into West Bank settlements – what a UN expert described as “an open and shut case.”
But before the launch of an investigation, Bensouda requested that a panel of judges confirm the court’s jurisdiction to investigate alleged war crimes in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.
The prosecutor requested an expeditious ruling on jurisdiction. But at this point, “there is no clarity or certainty as to when, or even whether,” any such ruling will be made, the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq stated this month.