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In a replay of the last major Gaza conflict, human rights defenders are again accusing Israel and Hamas of violating the rules of war, pointing to what they say appear to be indiscriminate or deliberate attacks on civilians. In 2009, such war crimes allegations leveled by U.N. investigators — and denied by both sides at the time — never came close to reaching the International Criminal Court. Some Palestinians hope the outcome will be different this time, in part because President Mahmoud Abbas, as head of a U.N.-recognized state of Palestine, has since earned the right to turn directly to the court. Still, the road to the ICC, set up in 2002 to prosecute war crimes, is filled with formidable political obstacles. Israel and the United States strongly oppose bringing any possible charges stemming from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before the court, arguing such proceedings could poison the atmosphere and make future peace talks impossible.

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