A Palestinian art exhibition was stolen last week during the 18th session of the Assembly of the States Parties of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
Hosted by the State of Palestine and Palestinian Human Rights Organisation Al-Haq, the exhibition featured MEMO’s Palestinian cartoonist Mohammad Sabaaneh’s artwork as part of an initiative on the impact of the criminal policies and practices of the Israeli occupation on the victims in Palestine.
According to the International Middle East Media Centre, Sabaaneh’s graphic political masterpieces were removed without authorisation from the hallways of the World Forum, sparking widespread condemnation.
The State of Palestine has been a member of the ICC since 2015 and has brought several key cases before the court.
Al-Haq and its partners have also submitted a file on Israeli crimes committed in the West Bank, including Jerusalem.
Following the disappearance of the artwork, the ICC’s administrators immediately launched a search and found them stored away in another location, still inside the building.
The 20 panels featuring his work were put back on display under police protection to prevent any further vandalism.
In a statement, the Ministry said: “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates condemns in the strongest terms this hateful act. We view it as a desperate attempt to silence the voices of Palestinian victims, which were so powerfully reflected in the exhibition.”
“We have been formally informed that the court is currently conducting an investigation into this grave incident. We expect this investigation to be thorough and transparent and that strong measures will be taken following its conclusion.”
Palestine’s ambassador to the Netherlands and the ICC Rawan Suleiman, was concerned that such a violation could take place within the ICC’s own premises.
She took to social media and wrote: “…The work documented the crimes of the occupation in Palestine, which fall within the legal jurisdiction of the Rome Charter, a work condemned by all standards. We expect the court, as we have been informed, to conduct a transparent investigation leading to strict measures.”
“You can imagine, my friends, the hostile environment that we face in our work from some people who aim to hinder any action that might contribute to reaching a result that we all seek, which is achieving justice and accountability.”
“I feel wounded on behalf of my friend, creative artist Mohammad Sabaaneh.”