During Israel's massacre in Gaza last August, the Israeli military killed 2200 Gazans, the vast majority of whom were civilians including hundreds of children. Hamas responded by killing 72 Israelis - 64 of whom were soldiers.
|Photo by Elvert Barnes.|
Twenty-six Americans filed a complaint on Tuesday to the US Attorney General requesting the justice ministry prosecute Hamas leaders for "war crimes," the Israeli legal group representing them said.
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The litigation, inspired and organised by Israeli legal group Shurat HaDin, was announced a day before the Palestinians officially became members of the International Crime Court, where they hope to see Israeli officials prosecuted for similar offences.
"We can't sit idly by. We need to fight back," said Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, the director of the non-governmental organisation.
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She alleged that "the Palestinians committed war crimes," and stressed that courts other than the ICC had "the authority to try them, including in the United States".
The 26 US citizens, some of whom also hold Israeli passports, asked that Hamas leaders be prosecuted for firing rockets at Israel's Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv during the 2014 war, when militants in Gaza fought Israeli forces.
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Some of them were among people forced to run for shelter when rockets launched at the airport hit a short distance away, said Shurat Hadin.
Others were passengers on board a Delta flight from New York that was forced to land in Paris, after US flights were diverted from Israel as a result of the rocket fire.
The airport is located 60 kilometers north of the Gaza Strip. There were no direct hits on the terminal, but missiles fell in the nearby city of Yehud, destroying a residential building.
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Over the course of last summer's 50-day conflict, approximately 2,200 Palestinians were killed — Israel contends that half were combatants, while the Palestinians say that most were civilians — and 72 people were killed on the Israeli side, including 64 soldiers.
According to US law, a person can be imprisoned for performing an "act of violence" at an international airport if the victim is a US citizen, said the NGO.