Hamas on Saturday said it wants "Zionist war criminals" brought before the International Criminal Court over last year's Israeli war on Gaza as rival Fatah denounced the Islamist group’s regret over deaths of Israeli civilians.
"We ask the United Nations to transfer the matter to the ICC so that the Zionist war criminals can be brought to justice," said Mohammed Faraj al-Ghul, justice minister in the Hamas administration of the Gaza Strip.
However, he also said he expected that the United States would block any such move.
"We expect that the American administration will intervene to block these criminals being judged," Ghul said.
The statements from Hamas came following criticism from Palestinian rivals over its expression of regret over the deaths of Israeli civilians during the Gaza war a year ago.
A spokesman for the Fatah party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he was "stunned" at the remark in a report to the United Nations this week and said Hamas should apologies rather to fellow Palestinians for deaths and injury caused when Hamas routed Fatah forces to seize control in Gaza in 2007.
In a statement from the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where Fatah still holds sway, spokesman Ahmed Assaf urged Hamas "to apologize first to the Palestinian people for its bloody coup which has ... caused the worst damage to the Palestinian cause."
Some 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed during the Israeli offensive aimed at halting rocket attacks from the territory ruled by the militant group which is sworn to the destruction of the Jewish state.
A U.N. Human Rights Council report by the respected former international prosecutor Richard Goldstone accused both Israel and Palestinian groups of committing war crimes during the devastating 22-day conflict.
On Jan. 27, Hamas said it had investigated those allegations and absolved Palestinian armed groups of any atrocities.
The Goldstone report recommended that its findings be referred to the ICC in The Hague if Israel and Hamas failed to carry out credible, independent investigations.