Israeli lawyer files ICC 'war crimes' complaint against Hamas leader

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'Jerusalem Institute of Justice' founder targets Ismail Haniyeh for 'pivotal role in extremist ideology'

Ismail Haniya in Rafah, a town in the Gaza Strip, on 24 February (AFP)
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Tuesday 7 March 2017 14:24 UTC
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An Israeli NGO has filed a complaint at the International Criminal Court (ICC) demanding the launch of a war crimes investigation against Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.

Michael Calev Myers, a lawyer and the founder of the Jerusalem Institute of Justice, on Monday met the chief ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, to present the motion against Haniyeh, who led Hamas in Gaza until last month.  

The institute's motion urges the ICC to investigate Haniyeh and lodge a case against him "for his role in the commissioning of war crimes during the 2014 conflict with Israel", reported the Jewish Chronicle.

According to Myers, the complaint was particularly filed against Haniyeh because of his "pivotal role in Hamas's extremist ideology and its consistent violation of the human rights of the Gazan civilian population".

He claims that Haniyeh played a key role in the violation of the Palestinians rights during the July-August 2014 war by using the Gaza population as "human shields", reported the paper.

Haniyeh headed Hamas in Gaza for more than a decade until he resigned last month. Observers believe he is set to replace Khaled Mashaal as the Hamas politburo chief.

Myers also claimed that his motion aims to protect the Israeli state by "initiating a sequence of activities against those who intend to harm us".

"The Jerusalem Institute of Justice and I have decided not to stand idly by while Israel is attacked in the international arena and only reacting after the fact," the Jewish Chronicle reported Myers as saying.

Hamas did not respond to Middle East Eye's request for comment before publication.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008.

Since the last 50-day war in 2014, that left 2,251 Palestinians and 73 Israelis dead, a fragile ceasefire along the largely closed border has been observed.

Missiles and rockets are occasionally fired at Israel but such attacks are often attributed to other groups inside Gaza.

The Israeli military usually retaliates against the positions of Hamas, which it holds responsible for the territory.