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Rights group urges UN to seek ICC Gaza probe
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Jan 14, 2009 - 6:58:13 AM

Rights group urges UN to seek ICC Gaza probe

THE HAGUE (AFP) An international human rights body on Wednesday urged the UN Security Council to refer Israel to the International Criminal Court for possible war crime charges over the Gaza war.

"The FIDH urges the UN Security Council to refer the situation to the ICC prosecutor ... for the prosecutor to initiate an investigation," the International Federation for Human Rights said in a letter to Security Council members.

The rights body quoted figures saying that the Israeli offensive against Gaza has caused more than 900 deaths, including those of 292 children, and injured 4,250 others "among which a large population of civilians."

"In view of the increasing number of civilian victims, especially children and women, and the widespread and systematic attacks that the civilian population is suffering from the Israeli army in the Gaza strip, these attacks constitute grave breaches of international humanitarian law," the body said.

It argued these should be qualified as war crimes, "if not crimes against humanity".

The ICC is competent to adjudicate war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed after 2002.

It can try individuals if a crime is alleged to have been committed on the territory of, or by a national of, a state party to the court's founding statute.

Israel is not a member state.

"In Gaza at present, the ICC lacks such jurisdiction," said Nicola Fletcher, a spokeswoman for the ICC prosecutor."

But the matter could still be considered if Israel voluntarily accepted the court's jurisdiction, or if it is referred to the court by the Security Council.

The Security Council has exercised this option once before, when it asked the prosecutor in 2005 to probe the situation in Sudan's western Darfur region. Sudan is also not a state party.

Subsequently, the prosecutor asked the court to issue an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir for genocide.

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