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Justice For All Announces Submission to International Criminal Court on the Destruction of Al-Omari Mosque as a War Crime

Justice For All, a human rights organization committed to advocating for justice and accountability, has officially submitted a comprehensive document to the International Criminal Court (ICC) pursuant to the Rome Statute, highlighting the deliberate destruction of significant cultural and religious heritage in Gaza City, specifically the Al-Omari Mosque, as a grave violation constituting a war crime.

Background of the Case:

The submission details targeted Israeli military strikes on the Al-Omari Mosque, Gaza City’s oldest and most significant religious site, on two separate occasions: October 20, 2023, and December 8, 2023. These deliberate attacks led to the complete destruction of this historic mosque, dating back to pre-Islamic times in the 5th century and serving as a cornerstone of cultural and religious life in Gaza for 1,400 years. The mosque, with roots stretching back to the 5th century and embodying the rich tapestry of Palestinian cultural and religious heritage, was irreparably damaged. This mosque was not merely a structure of worship but a beacon of community, history, and identity for the people of Gaza.

Factual Summary:

The Al-Omari Mosque, known for its architectural and archaeological significance, was more than a place of worship; it hosted community gatherings, daily prayers, and significant religious events. The mosque also housed valuable ancient manuscripts and a library, now feared lost forever following the December strike. This act of destruction is part of a broader pattern of targeting Palestinian cultural and historical sites, an explicit attack on Palestinian heritage and identity.

Context of Violations:

Our submission articulates how these acts of destruction contravene multiple statutes of the Rome Statute, specifically highlighting:

  • Article 8(2)(b)(ii): The prohibition against intentionally targeting civilian objects that are not military objectives.
  • Article 8(2)(b)(iv): The criminality of launching attacks knowing they will cause incidental loss of civilian life or damage to civilian objects on a scale that is clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage.
  • Article 8(2)(b)(v) and (ix): The prohibition against targeting buildings dedicated to religion, historic monuments, and other non-military objectives.

In our view, these attacks represent a clear disregard for the principles of distinction and proportionality enshrined in international humanitarian law. They not only sought to obliterate a place of worship but also aimed to erase symbols of Palestinian heritage and identity, which is a grievous assault on the cultural rights and dignity of the Palestinian people.

Call to Action:

Justice For All implores the ICC to acknowledge the destruction of the Al-Omari Mosque as a war crime, in line with the Rome Statute. We advocate for the commencement of legal actions against those responsible for these deplorable acts, to ensure accountability and justice for the affected communities.

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