A UN human rights expert, on Tuesday, described the International Criminal Court’s decision to investigate Israeli war crimes in Palestine as a “momentous step forward in the quest for accountability”, the Quds news Network reported.

“Accountability has, until now, been largely missing in action throughout the 52-year-old occupation,” said Michael Lynk, the Special Rapporteur for the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967.

He added that over the years, the international community has adopted hundreds of resolutions through the UN, condemning Israel’s entrenched occupation of the Palestinian territory, but it rarely combined criticism with consequences for Israel.

“Now, the possibility of accountability is finally on the horizon”, he added.

On 20 December, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced that she was “satisfied that there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation into the situation in Palestine”.

She has spent the past five years reviewing the initial evidence as part of a preliminary investigation in the 2014 war on Gaza, the illegal Israeli settlements and, more recently, the killing and wounding of Palestinian demonstrators near the Gaza border.

Bensouda said that before initiating a formal investigation, she would ask for a ruling by the Pre-Trial Chamber to confirm that the territory over which the Court may exercise its jurisdiction comprises the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza.

Lynk defended Bensouda’s decision saying that “in a world that proclaims its devotion to human rights and a rules-based international order, it is vital that the international community defend the decision of the ICC Prosecutor to advance her investigation and to seek a favourable ruling from the Pre-Trial Chamber on the issue of territorial jurisdiction.”

“International law must be the basis for seeking justice for the victims of war crimes in this interminable conflict, and the international community must resolutely support the laws and the institutions that it has created and nurtured.” – Michael Link

Edited for IMEMC: Ali Salam
Related: ICC Responds to Mounting Calls for Action, Opens Official Investigation into War Crimes in Palestine