AMSTERDAM - The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on Wednesday said her office will open a formal investigation into war crimes in the Palestinian Territories which will examine both sides in the conflict.
The decision comes after the court ruled on February 5 that it has jurisdiction in the case, a move which prompted swift rejection from Washington and Jerusalem. The Palestinian Authority welcomed the decision.
"The decision to open an investigation followed a painstaking preliminary examination undertaken by my office that lasted close to five years," outgoing Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement.
"This is a long-awaited step that serves Palestine’s tireless pursuit of justice and accountability, which are indispensable pillars of the peace the Palestinian people seek and deserve," the PA foreign ministry said in a statement.
Bensouda said in December 2019 that "war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip". She named both the Israeli Defense Forces and armed Palestinian groups such as Hamas as possible perpetrators.
The next step will be to determine whether Israel or Palestinian authorities have investigations themselves and to assess those.