January 14, 2009 / 6:06 PM / 10 years ago

ICC prosecutor says has no jurisdiction in Gaza

THE HAGUE, Jan 14 (Reuters) - The International Criminal Court prosecutor in The Hague said on Wednesday it lacks jurisdiction to investigate possible war crimes recently committed in the Gaza Strip.

The prosecutor’s statement came after a Palestinian rights group called on the ICC to investigate Israel for committing war crimes during its 19-day-old offensive in Gaza.

The office of the prosecutor said the court’s jurisdiction is limited to war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of genocide committed on the territory of, or by a national of, a state party.

"In Gaza at present, the ICC lacks such jurisdiction," the prosecutor said in a statement.

The prosecutor said crimes committed in other situations can come before the ICC if the relevant non-party state voluntarily accepts the jurisdiction of the court on an ad hoc basis or if the United Nations Security Council refers a situation.

Set up in 2000, the Hague-based ICC is the world’s first permanent court established to investigate and prosecute war crimes.

Israel and the United States are not among the 108 countries that have signed the Rome Statute creating the court, but that would not prevent the ICC from launching an investigation. (Reporting by Aaron Gray-Block; Editing by Matthew Jones)

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