The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomes the long-overdue decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Friday the 4th of February 2021, that clears the way for the international tribunal to investigate allegations against Israel, of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of apartheid in occupied Palestinian territories as a long-overdue step toward justice.
This decision comes six years after Palestine joined the ICC. Since then, the Palestinians have pushed for an investigation. Israel, which is not a member of the ICC, has accused the court of inappropriately wading into political issues.
The Palestinians have asked the court to look into Israeli actions during its 2014 war against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip and Israel’s construction of settlements in the occupied West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem. This investigation will focus on examining Israel’s actions and exploring alleged crimes committed by all sides, including Hamas (a militant Islamic Palestinian nationalist movement in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that is dedicated to the establishment of an independent Islamic state in historical Palestine).
Whilst this process could still be a protracted and lengthy one, we are particularly encouraged by this step forward which will hopefully finally reveal the daily atrocities and human rights violations of Palestinians by the Israeli occupying forces.
It cannot be ignored that this investigation will not, for sure, bring back all the innocent people, and children who have lost their lives. There is, however, a need to continue to try to find some justice. At this juncture, we hope that the ICC decision will have a restraining effect on Israeli actions, even before the investigation advances – for example in preventing further attempts to forcibly transfer Palestinian communities, such as the ones we witnessed in the past week in the South Hebron Hills and the Jordan Valley.
COSATU supports this decision and stands firm with the Palestinian people, who have welcomed the ruling as a historic move in the direction of accountability. We call on all governments to offer their full support to the ICC as it takes the next steps towards accountability, including standing up to powerful states who try to shield perpetrators from the international community’s full scrutiny.
Furthermore, we call for the freedom of Palestinian child prisoners, supporting the campaign launched by the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU). There is now widespread evidence that most Palestinian child prisoners are arrested at night, forcibly removed from their homes and families without access to legal advice or independent adult supervision. They are subjected to coercive interrogations, often accompanied by verbal and/or physical abuse and then detained inside Israel in contravention of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
We, therefore, call for:
· An end to Israel’s night-time raids and shackling of Palestinian children.
- Lawyers, parents and video cameras in all interrogations of Palestinian children
- An end to transferring children to prisons inside Israel in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention
Cosatu Head Office
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