As Palestinians go to ICC, NGO files war crimes complaint against Hamas

The complaints by 26 Americans on flights which were redirected or cancelled or were present at the airport on July 22 when most American and international airlines cancelled their flights.

March 31, 2015 11:23
2 minute read.
Niña palestina celebra el aniversario número 27 de Hamás(Credito: REUTERS)

Niña palestina celebra el aniversario número 27 de Hamás(Credito: REUTERS). (photo credit: REUTERS)

Shurat Hadin filed a war crimes complaint with the US Department of Justice against a range of Hamas commanders for indiscriminate rocket fire against Ben-Gurion Airport during last summer’s Gaza war.

The complaints by 26 Americans on flights that were redirected or canceled or were present at the airport on July 22, 2014, when most American and other international airlines canceled their flights due to a rocket that struck close by, were filed on Monday with the Department of Justice, two days before the Palestinian Authority’s accession to the International Criminal Court Rome Statute is set to take effect.

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Shurat Hadin’s goal is for the Department of Justice to criminally prosecute the Hamas commanders and rocket crew members involved, including Khaled Mashaal (the organization’s head), Hamdan Awad Sami Abu Zuhri, Hudheifa Samir Abdullah Allachlot, Ahmad Ghandour, Raed Saad, Marwan Abd al-Karim Issa and Salah Amar Dalul, in the US court system.

The Americans allege that Hamas terrorists “intentionally launched rockets at Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport throughout the summer which resulted in several near-missile strike at a time that American carriers and citizens were at the airport.”

The complaints argue that American law, specifically 18 U.S.C. § 37(a), provides prison sentences of up to 20 years for any person who unlawfully and intentionally uses violence against Americans at an international airport.

Further, the complaints argue that the 26 Americans includes passengers who were at the Ben-Gurion Airport at the time of the terrorist rocket attacks and had to flee into bomb shelters, as well as 273 passengers traveling on Delta Air Lines Flight 468 from New York that was diverted to Paris as a result of the dangerous situation.

The Shurat Hadin complaint was organized by attorney Robert Tolchin of New York and Shurat Hadin chairwoman Nitsana Darshan-Leitner.

During the Gaza war, note the complaints, the terrorist Hamas rockets targeting Israel’s international airport resulted in warning sirens being repeatedly sounded at the airport, causing American and non-American passengers to seek shelter in secured areas.

More than 4,800 rockets and 1,700 mortar shells were fired from the Gaza Strip, with a large proportion targeting Israel’s central region that includes Ben-Gurion Airport.

Discussing the rocket fire phenomenon more generally, the complaints say that 225 rockets struck Israeli civilian centers and that six Israeli civilians were killed by the Palestinian attacks.

More specifically, on July 22, following a Palestinian rocket strike on a civilian home in the nearby city of Yehud, the US Federal Aviation Administration issued a ban on American- flagged airlines arriving or departing from Ben-Gurion Airport.

The complaints say that following the FAA ban, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri proclaimed, “The success of Hamas in closing Israeli airspace is a great victory for the resistance, and is the crown of Israel’s failure.”

According to Darshan-Leitner, Hamas “intentionally targeted Ben-Gurion Airport this summer with the goal of killing passengers and destroying [aircraft belonging to] international carriers.”

She added, “We will continue to file complaints against Palestinian leaders both in the ICC and in many other national jurisdictions for the war crimes they have perpetrated against civilians.”

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