In advance of a High Court hearing on April 25 about a demolition order against a Palestinian school in Area C of the West Bank, Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a statement accusing Israel of “the war crime of wanton destruction and forcible transfer” and recommending that the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court “examine the school demolitions.” Despite, HRW’s overwrought implications, the ICC has never ruled if it has jurisdiction in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and even if it did, this case would clearly not pass the threshold of the complementarity or gravity doctrines applied by the court.
HRW’s claims and analysis are also irrelevant. Under the Oslo accords, as well as the occupation framework that HRW utilizes, Israel alone is obligated to regulate and enforce permits, zoning, and other construction regulations in Area C. It does not matter whether, in violation of the governing rules, the structures are schools or were funded by European governments or built by NGOs.
Moreover, as reflected in the impetus for HRW’s statements, Israeli courts have been providing careful oversight of the demolition orders and have, in general, noted that the structures were built without any legal permission or justification. (HRW gratuitously and offensively implies that one of the judges is not capable of impartially evaluating the evidence because he lives in a settlement.)
HRW’s hyperbolic language and obsessive rhetoric regarding the ICC is yet another example of HRW’s continued inability to report professionally on issues related to Israel.