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A test for the world court

The death of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh is gaining global attention as another issue in which the international community's sense of justice is being tested. The credibility of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is what is being tested now. Shireen being a Palestinian with American citizenship, the Al Jazeera correspondent who came to cover the atrocities committed by the Israeli army in the Palestinian refugee camp, is putting pressure on America too. When the international community and the United Nations stand helpless at Israel's injustice, the world court's stance becomes crucial. The ICC's decision to launch an investigation into Israel in March last year was a turning point. The court, which conducted a preliminary inquiry into the complaints filed by the legal community and human rights groups, began procedures after establishing its legal authority to investigate Israeli acts in occupied Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. This inquiry into whether Israel committed war crimes and crimes against humanity is mainly focused on the actions of 2018 and 2021 but is not limited to them. Adding relevance to the investigations, which began last April, UN agencies, and even the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, have confirmed that Israel is committing the crime of Apartheid (racial discrimination). Following such serious allegations, Shirin's assassination is now being raised as another war crime against Israel.

Probably aiming at thwarting the investigation, Israel quickly launched a self-justification campaign. A video was released claiming that Shirin was shot by Palestinians. However, when the Israeli organization B'Tselem itself went directly to the spot and investigated and proved that the visual was from another location, the Israeli army changed tack. It came up with the argument that even a shot was fired by the military, it was found that it was not intentional. Meanwhile, they are not ready to release details of the events nor the camera footage from the soldiers' bodies. Other independent inquiries have clarified that they are reluctant to do so because they will contradict themselves.

The Associated Press, which has studied the shooting in detail, concludes that it was an Israeli soldier who fired the shots. What the Palestinian Authority's investigation revealed was that a 5.56 mm round fired by an American-made rifle was the cause of death and must have been shot by the Israeli army. The technical forensic study done by the US media outlet CNN was detailed. They establish that not only was the Israeli soldier fired at but that it was also done deliberately and accurately pointed. B'Tselem has provided conclusive evidence that the shootings were not carried out by Palestinians. It is now for an impartial justice system to take action. The world is going to see if the ICC can do that. Anyway, Shireen's murder is also being added to the complaints already filed. Various quarters have formally filed complaints before the World Court in the last few days. Complaints have been received from a number of bodies, including the Palestinian Authority, Al Jazeera, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), a consortium of 34 organizations working for media freedom and human rights, and three Palestinian human rights organizations.

But, the ICC's recent slowdown has hurt its credibility. Investigations against Israel have begun but got stalled since British lawyer Karim Khan took over as chief prosecutor. The allegation is that he, who is in haste to probe Russian war crimes in Ukraine, is not showing vigil over complaints against Israel. When the need arose to investigate US's war crimes in Afghanistan, it was Karim Khan who exempted America. War crimes committed by the occupiers in Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq really tally with the actions for which the ICC was established. If they go uninvestigated or unpunished, it will destroy not only the credibility but also its very relevance. If the world's court is led by the United States, which says Israel should investigate Shirin's assassination itself, it will be the death knell of that court, from which the United States previously withdrew taking membership. The complaints against Israel are also a test of whether the world can compromise on the way in which the perpetrators themselves become judges.

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TAGS:Israel-Palestine conflict International Criminal Court Shireen Abu Akleh journalist killed by Israeli shooting 
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