Thousands of people from around the world lent their support to put Israel on trial in the International Criminal Court in The Hague for committing war crimes in Gaza.
Legal proceedings have started by Palestinian Justice Minister Saleem Al Saqqa and Gaza Court public prosecutor Ismail Jabr through a Paris-based lawyer – but commentators say the gesture is symbolic and the ICC may not have jurisdiction as Palestine, which only has observer status in the United Nations, isn't a full UN member.
Today is Day 19 of an Israeli offensive on the Palestinian enclave, which has claimed the lives of at least 1,000 Palestinians and injured 6,000 others to date.
The hashtag #ICC4Israel has been trending worldwide for the past eight hours, generating more than 334.6K tweets at the time of writing.
Palestinian doctor Belal, who lives in Gaza, tweets to his 40.5K followers:
— Belal – Gaza (@Belalmd12) July 26, 2014
Seventy-five percent of the Palestinians killed are civilians, which has raised questions about the tactics and targets being used in Israeli strikes. Israel says the assault is targeting Hamas, a group that has ruled the territory since 2007, for firing hundreds of missiles across the border into Israel. Two Israeli civilians and 33 Israeli soldiers have been killed so far.
Palestinian Zaki Safar, who has 31K followers on Twitter, notes:
— لورد زاك 6092065 (@zaki_safar) July 26, 2014
Hamas’ rockets into Israel are mostly homemade and reaching further than ever before, but most of them are picked off by Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system and rarely cause damage. Sirens warn Israelis of incoming missiles, and they can take shelter in one of the country's many bomb shelters. In Gaza, there are no sirens or bomb shelters, the Israeli Defense Forces have been using one-minute missile tap warnings on residential houses in this offensive.
Palestine Social tells its 33.1K followers on Twitter Israel should be put on trial in the ICC for its attack on hospitals:
— Palestine Social (@PalestineSocial) July 26, 2014
Bahraini doctor Nabeel Tammam, with 20.4K followers, also lends his voice to the campaign saying:
— Nabeel H. Tammam (@ntammam) July 26, 2014
Gaza's poorly equipped over-worked hospitals and medics have had another problem – shelling from Israel during this offensive. The Palestinian Ministry of Health explains:
One of Gaza’s hospitals has been totally destroyed, a paediatric hospital so severely damaged it is unusable, and another six have been severely damaged. Four health professionals have been killed and 14 injured. Two medical clinics and 14 ambulances have been completely destroyed, and seven other clinics have been damaged.
And Palestine Campaigns, which kicked off the move, calls on journalists to pick the cause they were campaigning for:
— Palestine Campaigns (@PaliCampaigns) July 26, 2014
Meanwhile, Walaa Al Ghussein, from Gaza, laments:
#ICC4Israel hashtag is trending # 1 worldwide. – only if it's about hashtags.
— Walaa Al Ghussein (@WalaaGh) July 26, 2014
The vast majority of Gazans cannot leave Gaza. The narrow 40-kilometer-long coastal territory is surrounded by fences and concrete walls along its north and east with Israel and on its south border with Egypt. UK Prime Minister David Cameron in 2010 called Gaza “an open-air prison.” Excessive restrictions from Israel in the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank is why most of the world and the United Nations considers this territory “occupied.”