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Israel Readies to Host ICC Delegation on Gaza War Mission | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Palestinians inspect damages following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on July 24, 2014. Mohammed Abed/AFP

Jerusalem-Israel is to host a working group of the International Criminal Court as it weighs whether to probe alleged war crimes in the 2014 Gaza war, an Israeli official said Friday.

The group’s arrival “shortly” will be unprecedented, he told Agence France Presse on condition of anonymity, saying the visit was intended to show the ICC team “how the Israeli judicial system works.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesman declined to comment.

Under its statutes, the ICC must be satisfied that the state in question is unable or unwilling to pursue the matter itself before the court opens war crimes proceedings.

Israel will seek to convince the visiting ICC team that it intends to see justice done over accusations it used excessive force in the July-August 2014 war in and around the Palestinian territory and events immediately preceding it.

The official could not say if the group would be given access to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, to which Israel controls all passage except across the largely closed Gaza-Egypt border.

The Palestinians angered Israel in 2015, when they formally asked the ICC to investigate the Jewish state, which has not signed up to the ICC, for alleged war crimes.

The 2014 conflict killed 2,251 Palestinians, including 551 children, according to U.N. figures. On the Israeli side, 73 people were killed, mostly soldiers.

Israel vehemently opposes any ICC investigation, but officials have said they will cooperate with the body.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu said he hasn’t yet decided whether he wants to participate in a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that Russia is trying to hold in Moscow.

Informed Palestinian sources have recently said that there were intense international and Arab efforts to hold a summit between Netanyahu and Abbas under the chairmanship of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Yet Abbas is holding onto a condition for Israel to first implement commitments it had made earlier, including the release of the fourth and last batch of Palestinian prisoners.