Thu, 22 Apr 2021

JERUSALEM, March 3 (Xinhua) -- Israel on Wednesday denounced the decision of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open an investigation into possible crimes in the Palestinian territories.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to act "to cancel the outrageous decision." In a statement issued by his office, he said the launch of the probe is "an attack" against Israel.

The decision announced earlier on Wednesday by the ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda is "the epitome of hypocrisy and antisemitism," Netanyahu said.

Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Askenazi urged allied countries not to cooperate with the investigation.

According to Ashkenazi, the Hague-based ICC has no jurisdiction to investigate Israel. "Israel is a democracy with an independent and effective legal system, and is not a member of the court at all," he said in a statement.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin referred to the decision as "scandalous."

"We are proud of our soldiers, who are our sons and daughters ... who stand guard for their country generation after generation, a defensive wall against all those who seek to harm us," a statement issued by his office said.

In her announcement, Bensouda said the probe will cover "crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court that are alleged to have been committed" since June 13, 2014, by Israelis and Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

She said the investigation will be carried out "independently, impartially, and objectively, without fear or favor."

Palestinian officials and human rights groups hailed the launch of the probe.

The move "is a necessary step, following decades in which Israel committed and continues to commit crimes with impunity," B'tselem, an Israeli human rights watchdog, said in a statement.

Israel captured the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Middle East war and has controlled them ever since despite international criticism.

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