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Pro-Israel NGO urges ICC to investigate PA over torture allegations

The group is calling for the ICC to launch an investigation into the allegations and prosecute PA leaders.

Jerusalem24 – Pro-Israel NGO, The International Legal Forum, filed a motion on Tuesday against the Palestinian Authority for extensive and systemic use of torture against Palestinians in the West Bank and four Israeli (Two soldiers, two civilians) currently held in Gaza to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The group is calling for the ICC to launch an investigation into the allegations and prosecute the PA leaders, alleging that President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh are engaged in routinely torturing Palestinians, and invoking the PA’s liability for the captivity of Israelis in the Gaza Strip.

Last week the UN Committee against Torture opened its seventy-fourth session, which is being held in Geneva from 12 to 29 July, during which it will review efforts by different countries including the State of Palestine to implement the provisions of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

This is the first-ever review of the PA, which signed on to the convention in 2014 despite not being a state.

On Monday and Tuesday, members of the Geneva-based body, a unit of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, met to determine whether the PA is in compliance with the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and to investigate instances of forced disappearances, violent interrogations, and other issues.

The review also addressed actions by Hamas, the ruling body in the Gaza Strip, where four Israelis are held captive, two Civilians and two soldiers.

The State of Palestine filed a 65-page response to the allegations, and the PA sent a delegation of 17 officials to appear before the committee.

In a report, UN Watch (a Pro-Israel organization) charged that the PA and Hamas routinely torture human-rights activists, women, members of the LGBT community, political opponents, “collaborators” with Israel, and Palestinians who sell land to Jews.

The Committee against Torture is expected to review reports submitted by American, Palestinian, and Israeli NGOs. These include Human Rights Watch, the Palestinian Coalition Against Torture, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Clinic on International Human Rights, among others.

On their website, the International Legal Forum describes itself as “a non-profit, proactive legal hub, centralizing efforts of lawyers, organizations and activists worldwide, in the fight to promote justice, peace and equality in Israel and the Middle East.”

International Legal Forum Chairman Arsen Ostrovsky told Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom that it was “high time that the Palestinian Authority be held accountable for its systematic use of torture against the Palestinian people, and it must also be held accountable for torturing four Israeli civilians currently held in Gaza.”

“These are outrageous international law violations that cannot be refuted. The International Criminal Court must investigate these allegations and press charges accordingly,” he said.

Nadeen Alshaer

Alshaer is a Palestinian journalist, a Birzeit University graduate with a B.A. in TV and Radio Broadcasting Journalism. Alshaer has 5+ years of experience in journalism. She currently works as a reporter, editor and presenter/producer for PBC-Palestine TV and Jerusalem24 radio. She’s a UN and Kelley School of Business alumna.

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