The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has censured the United States over its opposition to a decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to proceed with an investigation into war crimes committed by Israeli forces in the occupied territories.
As Reported by Qods News Agency (Qodsna) Hamas spokesman Hazem Qasem said in a statement issued on Saturday that Washington’s behavior points to its “insistence on providing cover for the atrocities and violations … committed against the Palestinian people.”
The US administration, he added, emboldens the Israeli regime to perpetrate more crimes against the Palestinian nation.
The Hamas official described US President Donald Trump’s team as the Tel Aviv regime’s willing accomplice in crimes against Palestinians.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday that Washington was against the ICC probe into the Israeli war crimes. “We firmly oppose this and any other action that seeks to target Israel unfairly.”
“We do not believe the Palestinians qualify as a sovereign state, and they therefore are not qualified to obtain full membership, or participate as a state in international organizations, entities, or conferences, including the ICC,” the US secretary of state said.
Earlier in the day, ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said a preliminary examination into the war crimes, opened in 2015, had provided enough information to meet all criteria for opening an inquiry.
There was “a reasonable basis” to investigate the situation in Palestine, she said. “I am satisfied that ... war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem [al-Quds], and the Gaza Strip.”
The probe will apparently cover Israel’s settlement policy in the occupied West Bank, crimes during the 2014 Gaza war, and the crackdown on the ‘Great March of Return’ protests in the besieged Gaza Strip.
The ICC decision has been widely welcomed by Palestinian officials, with President Mahmoud Abbas calling the occasion a “great” and “historic” day.
“We have achieved what we want, and from this day on, the ICC machine will start accepting the cases that we have previously presented,” he said.
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has said the ICC announcement "constitutes a stand for justice and truth."
"We will make every possible legal effort to try Israel for the war crimes it committed against our people in the Gaza Strip, al-Quds and the West Bank," he said.
On Saturday, Israeli Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich called on caretaker Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to give the Palestinian Authority a 48-hour ultimatum to pull its ICC petition or see the Ramallah-based authority “torn down.”