Palestinians look for survivors following an Israeli air raid in Khan Younis refugee camp [File: Fatima Shbair/AP Photo]

Three rights groups file ICC lawsuit against Israel over Gaza ‘genocide’

The lawsuit urges the ICC to include ‘genocide’ in Gaza war crimes inquiry and issue arrest warrants for Israel’s leaders.

Three Palestinian rights groups have filed a lawsuit with the International Criminal Court (ICC), urging the body to investigate Israel for “apartheid” as well as “genocide” and issue arrest warrants for Israeli leaders.

The lawsuit, filed on Wednesday by human rights organisations Al-Haq, Al Mezan, and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, called for “urgent attention to the continuous barrage of Israeli airstrikes on densely populated civilian areas within the Gaza Strip”, which have killed more than 10,500 Palestinians, almost half of them children, according to Gaza health officials.

The document also asked the body to expand its ongoing war crimes investigation by looking into “the suffocating siege imposed on [Gaza], the forced displacement of its population, the use of toxic gas, and the denial of necessities, such as food, water, fuel, and electricity”.

These acts amount to “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity”, including “genocide”, the lawsuit said.

The three groups want arrest warrants to be issued against Israel’s President Isaac Herzog, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant.

The ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) opened an official investigation into the situation in Palestine in 2021 after determining that “war crimes have been or are being committed by Palestinian and Israeli actors in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip”.

However, the group has faced criticism from rights groups and activists who say its response to ongoing Israeli attacks in Gaza have been tepid.

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