Quarterly Updates for (16 Aug 2018 — 31 Dec 2018)

                Both Israelis and Palestinians filed war crime complaints to the International Criminal Court (ICC) during this extended quarter. On 3 September a group of Israeli farmers filed a complaint wanting ICC prosecutors to investigate if Hamas had instigated the incendiary kites or balloons that set fire to their land. According to Israeli officials over 7,000 acres of land have been burned after the Great March of Return started in March. The complaint was drafted by the Shurat Hadin-Israel Law Center and targets 3 Hamas individuals carrying Jordanian passports in a political move as the group filing the complaint does not recognize the State of Palestine, which is a member of the ICC. The State of Israel is not a member of the ICC. The complaint mentions 3 violations of the Rome Statute, which is the legal foundation of the ICC: murder of non-combatants, destruction of civilian property, and use of civilians as human shields. All of these violations are also part of another going investigation into Israeli perpetrated war crimes against Palestinians that started in January 2015 and includes a total of 125 complaints. On 3 December the ICC released its “Report on Preliminary Examination Activities 2018” which details the many war crime complaints against Israel. The conclusion to the Palestine section of the report stated that the ICC had made significant progress in its investigation during 2018 and that a complete preliminary examination would be published “as early is as possible.” The ongoing investigation into Israel prompted U.S. national security advisor John Bolton to state (9/10) that the U.S. plans to shield Israel from any ICC effort to investigate Israeli war crimes. After National Security Advisor Bolton’s statement, the ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said (10/17) that the ICC would not hesitate to take action if Israel were to demolish the Bedouin village Khan al-Ahmar in the West Bank (see Palestinian-Israeli Conflict). On 5 December at the Assembly of State Parties at the ICC in The Hague, the Palestinian attorney general Ahmad Barak was elected to join the advisory committee on nominating judges for the ICC. The members of the advisory committee serve 3 years and can be reelected.