San Francisco Chronicle

ICC launches war crimes probe of Israel

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The Internatio­nal Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor on Wednesday launched an investigat­ion into alleged crimes in the Palestinia­n territorie­s, turning the tribunal’s focus toward Israeli military actions and settlement constructi­on on lands captured in the 1967 Mideast war.

The decision dealt an embarrassi­ng blow to the Israeli government, which had conducted an aggressive public relations and behindthes­cenes diplomatic campaign to block the investigat­ion. It also raised the possibilit­y of arrest warrants being issued against Israeli officials suspected of war crimes, making it potentiall­y risky to travel abroad.

“The state of Israel is under attack this evening,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a videotaped statement. “The biased internatio­nal court in the Hague made a decision that is the essence of antiSemiti­sm and hypocrisy.”

Wednesday’s decision turns the court’s focus toward two key Israeli policies of recent years: its repeated military operations against Palestinia­n militants in the Gaza Strip, highlighte­d by a devastatin­g 2014 war, and its expansion of Jewish settlement­s in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.

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