Today, on 26 October 2018, Al-Haq, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) submitted a 500-page file on alleged crimes committed by Israelis, in particular high-level Israeli officials, and individuals associated with corporations that are extracting and destroying Palestinian natural resources.

The organisations provide a reasonable basis to believe that Israelis and private actors have committed the war crimes of extensive destruction and appropriation of property, pillage, and destruction and seizure of property.

The confidential communication provides factual information and legal analysis on the exploitation and destruction of Palestinian water, agricultural land, minerals, mud, stone, and oil.

Mr. Shawan Jabarin, Al-Haq’s General Director, said that “in situations of armed conflict, the trade and business in natural resources have often been strong incentives for war and violence, and provided the finances necessary to maintain and prolong an armed conflict.

The situation in Palestine is a case of such exploitation, in which Israelis and private actors have been deliberately and openly exploiting Palestinian natural resources for at least five decades.

The exploitation of Palestinian natural resources by Israel, Israelis, as well as corporations, finances and thereby sustains and allows for the expansion of Israeli settlements, including by providing profitable employment to settlers and a secure living environment.”

Mr. Issam Younis, Al Mezan’s Director, also said that “Israel, acting as the Occupying Power has engaged in a deliberate and wide-scale exploitation and destruction of significant Palestinian resources in the OPT, as part of an overall policy to annex, exercise sovereignty, and ensure full non-consensual Israeli domination over Palestinian territory.”

Israel, along with and through Israeli and international non-state actors, including corporations, have unlawfully extracted Palestinian natural resources in the OPT, without the lawful consent of the occupied population therein, and solely for the benefit of the Israeli economy and population, including illegal Israeli settlements.

Israel has also permitted and encouraged private actors to exploit Palestinian natural resources. Such private actors include business enterprises in agricultural and industrial settlements, as well as Israeli and multinational corporations.

Israel’s unrestricted and unilateral exploitation of Palestinian natural resources will eventually lead to the depletion of Palestinian natural resources, to the detriment of the Palestinian occupied population and in violation of Israel’s customary international law obligations.

Furthermore, the appropriation, destruction, seizure, and pillaging of Palestinian natural resources have serious social, economic, and environmental impact on the affected Palestinian communities, and notably infringe on Palestinians’ fundamental right to self-determination.

Mr. Raji Sourani, PCHR Director, said that “considering crimes committed in relation to the exploitation of Palestinian natural resources and the colonisation of the occupied territory, with complete impunity, the ICC Prosecutor must urgently open an investigation into the situation in Palestine.”

This is the sixth Article 15 communication to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), and it complements the file submitted to the Prosecutor in September 2017 concerning inter alia the transfer of Israeli settlers into the occupied territory, appropriation of Palestinian land, and forcible transfer of the protected Palestinian population.