NEW YORK–Today, the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), Center for Constitutional Rights, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Arab Lawyers Union, and American Association of Jurists sent a letter to Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), urging her to initiate an investigation of war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity committed by Israeli leaders and aided and abetted by U.S. officials in Gaza. Under the Rome Statute, the ICC has the power to hold individuals criminally accountable for the most serious of crimes. The letter cites supporting factual allegations for each crime.
Since Israel launched Operation “Protective Edge” on July 8, 2014, more than 2,000 Palestinians have been killed, more than 80% of whom are civilians, including more than 470 children. In addition to the shelling of schools, mosques, and UN-designated shelters, Palestinians are denied access to basic human necessities such as water, food and medicine.
The letter to the ICC quotes UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, who have more than once called for accountability and justice in Gaza. Ban has stated that repeated bombing of UN shelters in Gaza was “outrageous, unacceptable and unjustifiable,” while Pillay has specifically stated that there is “increasing evidence of war crimes” being committed in Gaza.
As NLG President Azadeh Shahshahani stated, “In light of the mounting evidence about Israel’s committing of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide against the people of Gaza, it is incumbent upon the International Criminal Court to initiate an investigation into these crimes as well as the US government’s aiding and abetting of them through its military aid.”
The NLG and other signatories to the letter conclude that “the initiation of an investigation would send a clear message to all involved either in committing or in aiding and abetting the aforementioned crimes that they stand to be held personally accountable for their actions. This could help end the continuing breaches of international law and end the impunity that has underpinned the ever increasing violence in the region that has caused – and continues to cause, extreme suffering to its civilian population.”
The National Lawyers Guild was formed in 1937 as the nation’s first racially integrated bar association to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human and civil rights.