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April 05, 2012

World court turns down Gaza investigation

Israel waged a three-week military offensive in the Gaza Strip called Operation Cast Lead, which caused the death of 1,440 Palestinians. (UPI Photo/Debbie Hill)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (UPI) -- The International Criminal Court turned down a Palestinian request to investigate alleged Israeli war crimes during the 2008-2009 military offensive in Gaza.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the ICC Prosecutor at the Hague-based court in the Netherlands declared in his ruling Tuesday the court is unable to probe the Palestinian Authority's allegations against Israel because it only has jurisdiction over recognized states, The Jerusalem Post said.

In December 2008, Israel waged a three-week military offensive in the Gaza Strip called Operation Cast Lead. Thirteen Israelis were killed and the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza said 1,440 Palestinians were killed, of which at least 700 were armed operatives.

Israel's Foreign Ministry welcomed the international court's decision saying "Israel made it clear in the first place that the ICC has no jurisdiction in this matter," a ministry spokesman told the Post.

In his ruling, Moreno-Ocampo noted while Palestine has been recognized as a state in bilateral relations by 130 governments, by United Nations bodies and other international organizations, the U.N. General Assembly granted the Palestinian Authority "observer" status only, the Post said.

The international court can try crimes against humanity and genocide in states that are party to the 1998 Rome Statute, and internationally recognized states not party to the Rome Statute can submit a declaration they recognize the court's jurisdiction on their territory, the newspaper said.

If the court had accepted the Palestinian Authority's recognition of its jurisdiction it would have also accepted its statehood, the paper said.

"The Office has assessed that it is for the relevant bodies at the United Nations or the Assembly of State Parties to make the legal determination whether Palestine qualifies as a State for the purpose of acceding to the Rome Statute and thereby enabling the exercise of jurisdiction by the Court," Haaretz said quoting the ICC statement.

Following the three-week military offensive in Gaza, the Palestinians submitted a declaration to the ICC declaring the Palestinian Authority recognizes the court's jurisdiction, the Post said.

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