The International Criminal Court warned Israel that the demolition of the illegally-built Khan al-Ahmar Bedouin village could constitute a war crime.
By Associated Press and World Israel News Staff
The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) warned Israel that the demolition of an illegally-built Bedouin village could constitute a war crime.
In a statement Wednesday, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said that “evacuation by force now appears imminent, and with it the prospects for further escalation and violence.”
Israel’s Supreme Court recently rejected a final appeal against plans to demolish Khan al-Ahmar. The village was built illegally, and Israel offered to resettle its residents a few miles away.
Bensouda said the “extensive destruction of property without military necessity and population transfers in an occupied territory constitute war crimes” under the Rome Statute treaty that established the ICC, sometimes known as the World Court.
The Jahalin Bedouin living at Khan al-Ahmar are part of a larger tribe from southern Israel, in the Arad region. After a blood feud erupted within the tribe in the 1970s, some of the families were forced out and migrated north through the Judean desert, arriving and settling in their present location after the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
Israel views the location of the illegal structures as a strategic threat due to their proximity to a major highway connecting Jerusalem to the south of Israel in an area that bisects the country.
ICC weighs in on recent violence
Bensouda remarked on today’s escalation between Israel and Gaza, noting her alarm over “the continued violence, perpetrated by actors on both sides, at the Gaza border with Israel.”
Palestinian terrorists fired a rocket towards the southern city of Beersheba early Wednesday morning, directly hitting and demolishing a home.
Israel’s Air Force retaliated with 20 strikes on terror targets within Gaza.
“As Prosecutor seized of the situation in Palestine, I therefore feel compelled to remind all parties that the situation remains under preliminary examination by my office,” Bensouda said.
“I continue to keep a close eye on the developments on the ground and will not hesitate to take any appropriate action, within the confines of the independent and impartial exercise of my mandate under the Rome Statute, with full respect for the principle of complementarity,” she noted.
Israel maintains that the ICC has no jurisdiction over matters relating to Israel and the Palestinians.