Ramallah, 14 December 2021 (TDI): The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates requested the International Criminal Court (ICC) to proceed with investigations after the shooting by the Israeli occupation forces of Palestinian young man Jamil Abu Ayyash.

During confrontations in the town of Beita, Abu Ayyash, 31, sustained a serious injury in the head after being hit with live ammunition by Israeli occupation soldiers in the village at about 2:00 am. Ayyash was rushed to a nearby hospital for urgent treatment but was announced dead of his wounds about an hour later.

Therefore, alongside other allegations, Palestine urged the ICC to take action. The Ministry issued a statement, alleging that “the occupation’s suppression of the Palestinian citizens participating in nonviolent marches with live bullets is a crime in every sense of the word, amounting to a war crime and a crime against humanity”.

In this line, the statement held the Israeli government fully and directly responsible for the crime, calling on the permanent investigation committee formed by the UN Human Rights Council to start an immediate investigation into the crimes of the Israeli occupation and its settlers.

Meantime, Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh strongly condemned Israel’s killing of Abu Ayyash, and expressed heartfelt condolences to his family.

Palestine and the ICC investigation 

Upon referrals by States Parties or by the United Nations Security Council, or on its own initiative and with the judges’ authorization, the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) conducts investigations. These investigations examine the evidence, questioning persons under investigation and questioning victims and witnesses. These are done for the purpose of finding evidence of a suspect’s innocence or guilt. OTP must investigate incriminating and exonerating circumstances equally.

In this sense, on 3 March 2021, the Prosecutor announced the opening of the investigation into the Situation in the State of Palestine. This followed Pre-Trial Chamber I’s decision on 5 February 2021 that “the Court could exercise its criminal jurisdiction in the Situation and, by the majority, that the territorial scope of this jurisdiction extends to Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem”.

Fatou Bensouda said the probe would cover events in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip since June 2014. Moreover, the ICC ruled that it could exercise its criminal jurisdiction over the territories. Israel rejected Bensouda’s decision, while Palestinian officials praised it. The US expressed disappointment and opposition to the move.

Israel has never ratified the Rome Statute, but the court ruled that it had jurisdiction because the United Nations secretary-general accepted the Palestinians’ accession to the treaty in 2015.

Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war. Palestinians claim the territories for a future independent state.