The lawsuit traces the threads of the case from its inception, from the British Mandate and the Balfour Declaration to Operation Al-Aqsa Flood (Getty Images)

PARIS — The legal battle to prosecute Israel for its crimes began to unfold after a legal army of rights groups and more than 500 lawyers from around the world, led by French lawyer Gilles Dovere, headed to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Last Thursday, a 56-page lawsuit demanding an investigation into the incidents attributed to the occupation army in the Gaza Strip since the seventh of last October reached the court's prosecutor's office.

The text of the lawsuit traces the threads of the case from its inception, starting from the period of the British Mandate, the Balfour Declaration and the establishment of the State of Israel, to the various Israeli-Arab wars, the Oslo Accords of 1993, the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip, Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, and then the ongoing aggression of the occupation against unarmed civilians.

An unprecedented step

The defence is based on documented facts and clear statements of intent by Israeli officials to commit war crimes and genocide against the Palestinian people.

"The law classifies genocide as the physical extermination of populations, but also the destruction of communities by making life inside impossible, including cutting off water and electricity, reducing food, destroying homes and forcibly displacing them, with rhetoric that labels residents animals and dehumanizes them," Dover said.

Duvier explained in his speech to Al Jazeera Net, "On this basis, we filed a complaint about the genocide because what Israel is doing falls within the framework of all cases that lead to this crime, and we do not lack evidence at all, because the Hebrew state does not hide what it does and publishes audio and video in public."

Therefore, obtaining proof is not complicated, according to the lawyer, who recalled the quote of the Israeli defense minister, "I will cut off the water and electricity because we have to treat them like animals, Netanyahu who threatened that Palestinian life will not return to normal, and the World Health Organization's recognition that ambulances were attacked."

For his part, lawyer Abdul Majeed Marari, director of the Middle East and North Africa division at the IFDI human rights organization, stressed that the elements of occupation crimes are found in the rules of international law, starting with the Geneva Convention through the Hague Regulations and the Rome Statute.

Marari pointed out in an interview with Al Jazeera Net that "this is the first lawsuit in the history of dealing with the International Criminal Court in the matter of the Palestinian issue on genocide, and we relied on the Convention on the Criminalization of Genocide of 1948 and under Article VI of the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court system."

Army of lawyers

For lawyers involved in the proceedings, it is not necessary that they belong to the States members of the Criminal Court, since the only rule is to register with their Bar Association.

Dover, a lawyer accredited to the ICC, explained that he signs all the documents and then assembles his own defence team. This team can consist of 3 people and can also reach 500 people or more.

"I am not a political or religious leader but a lawyer, and I welcome everyone to join. For example, we have lawyers of Israeli origin, and among the participating associations we find the French Jewish Union for Peace, which strongly opposes Israeli Zionist policies."

Regarding the formation of this legal army, lawyer Abdul Majeed Marari said that personal relations and the process of networking relations with a number of human rights organizations that entered the line were relied on to communicate and select lawyers, noting that they received calls from many lawyers interested in the case from the United States and South Africa.

Marari stressed the need for every lawyer to be informed of the draft complaint before submitting the power of attorney, as some of them - especially from France - refused to join the group, justifying this by not condemning the text of the complaint of the Palestinian resistance and not addressing the issue of prisoners or describing what Hamas is doing as war crimes.

Powerful Conviction Test

According to lawyer Gilles Duver, the real problem is to convince the prosecutor to act and assume his responsibilities, even if there is a lot of pressure on him, considering that what is happening today is a "strong test of conviction."

When asked why it was so difficult to convince the prosecutor, Dovere replied: "Past experience has shown us that it is difficult to push him to open an investigation, and at the same time the law clearly states that only the prosecutor can make that decision."

In this case, according to article 51 of the Rome Statute, the Prosecutor shall receive the evidence and give himself a reasonable time to examine it and determine its admissibility ratione materiae rather than form.

"We have settled the matter with the ICC on the issue of admissibility in form, as it extends its jurisdiction over the Palestinian territories, including the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. In other words, the matter of admissibility in terms of specialization is over and is no longer possible in any way."

"We are aware of the pressure the prosecutor is facing and that the United States of America has delayed the investigation, which was supposed to begin in March 2021. Therefore, we count on the boldness of the prosecutor and the independence of the non-Washington criminal court, such as the International Court of Justice."

Marari confirmed to Al Jazeera Net: "If we had an iota of doubt about the justice of the case or that what is happening does not represent the elements of the crime of genocide, we would not have risked our reputation and our professional history of 15 years in dealing with the criminal to file this lawsuit."

Right of appeal

French lawyer Dovere pointed to the possibility of resorting to an appeal if the prosecutor refuses to open the investigation, stressing at the same time that his legal army will do everything necessary and move towards an appeal if necessary until the judiciary asks him to reconsider the decision.

The ICC-accredited lawyer reiterated his determination and the entire defence team to make the voice of justice heard by compelling the prosecutor, because the court does not belong to the judges but to the people, who demand strict respect for human equality, as he put it.

On the possibility of Western countries obstructing the court's decision, Dover said that "the West's support for the establishment of a Jewish state on the land of the Palestinian people began in 1917 with the blessing of Britain and France, and it is based on the denial of the people's right to self-determination," adding: "They continue to fund, aid and focus on impunity and the destruction of the people because they imagine that the destruction of a strong people like the Palestinian people is possible."

"Western powers support a crazy bet to liquidate the Palestinian people on their land, and I regret watching all these countries follow the orders of General Netanyahu, a liar with blood on his hands, who is also being prosecuted for corruption," he said.

Finally, Dovere and Marari insisted on delivering a clear message to all Palestinians: "We will do whatever it takes to defend you and assure you that you are not alone."

Source : Al Jazeera