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Israeli group files war crimes complaint at International Criminal Court against Palestinians

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JERUSALEM — An Israel-based rights organization said Monday that it has filed a war crimes complaint against three top Palestinian leaders it accuses of terrorism, torture and civil rights violations.

The Shurat HaDin Law Center filed the complaint at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, The Netherlands, against PLO leaders Jibril Rajoub, Majid Faraj and Rami Hamdallah, the current Palestinian prime minister. The suit follows similar complaints the group filed against Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The move appears to be a longshot as the court receives thousands of such requests and rarely takes action. But it comes a week after the Palestinians announced they would be joining the international court to pursue war-crimes charges against Israel. The gambit opened them up to their own set of potential war crimes allegations over rocket attacks by the extremist group Hamas on Israeli population centers and other violence against Jewish targets.

Ahmad Assaf, a spokesman for the Fatah wing of the PLO, rejected the accusations. He said the ICC should focus on Israel and that "people under occupation have the right to resist their occupiers, according to the international law."

Abbas has been under heavy pressure to take stronger action against Israel amid months of rising tensions over the collapse of U.S.-brokered peace talks last spring and a 50-day war between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza over the summer.

In a related development, the ICC said the Palestinians have notified them that they would accept ICC jurisdiction as of June 13, 2014. The choice of date appears aimed at including allegations against Israel relating to the Gaza war but avoiding charges against the Palestinians over the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers that predated it.

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