In this podcast, Muftah’s Erin Kilbride speaks with Raji Sourani, a human rights lawyer in Gaza and Director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, who is working to bring Israel before the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes allegedly committed during the 2014 Gaza War. The Palestinian Authority (PA) joined the ICC in June 2015, and officials and activists have been working to present evidence to Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda that would prompt her to open an investigation.
The case Sourani is helping to build will have enormous implications for the credibility of the ICC, which many countries feel has taken a biased approach to its prosecutions, by focusing almost exclusively on non-Western defendants. John Dugard, the former special rapporteur on Palestinian affairs for the UN Human Rights Council, said last summer that there is, in fact, so much evidence supporting the case against Israel that if the ICC fails to open an investigation the Court may “fall apart.” As have others, Dugard has pointed out that African states – which already feel singled out by the ICC – are watching the Israel case to see whether a global power with significant Western backing will finally be brought to justice before the Court.
An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman has called any prosecution of Israel by the PA “an attempt to manipulate the ICC” and said “we hope that the prosecutor will not fall into the trap,” according to Reuters. The Israeli government has denied allegations that its forces committed war crimes during the 2014 Gaza war and, instead, accuses Hamas of atrocities for purportedly firing thousands of rockets at Israeli civilian areas.
In this podcast, Sourani discusses how his organization has supported the PA in building its case against Israel, and what is next for the human rights movement in Palestine.