THE HAGUE - Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki submitted a referral on Tuesday to the International Criminal Court (ICC) asking prosecutors to immediately open a formal investigation into accusations of Israeli crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories.

"The State of Palestine took an important and historic step towards justice for the Palestinian people who continue to suffer from ongoing, widespread and systematic crimes," Malki told press after meeting with ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.

He said the referral addressed a myriad of issues including "settlement expansion, land grabs, illegal exploitation of natural resources, as well as the brutal and calculated targeting of unarmed protesters, particularly in the Gaza Strip".

For him, the evidence of Israeli crimes are "ample and insurmountable". The investigation should cover the period from mid-2014 to the present, including the deaths in last week's conflicts between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces, he added.

"This referral is Palestine's test to the international mechanism of accountability and respect for international law," the minister said. In 2014, Palestine signed the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the ICC. In January 2015, the Hague-based court decided to launch a preliminary inquiry into Palestine's request of an investigation into crimes on Palestinian territory. A formal investigation will be opened after the preliminary inquiry concludes.

Palestine's submitting of the referral came just days after more than 60 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces as they protested Washington's decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to the disputed city of Jerusalem. Israel said Palestine's request was "legally invalid" as "the ICC lacks jurisdiction over the Israeli-Palestinian issue, since Israel is not a member of the Court and because the Palestinian Authority is not a state".

Israel targets Hamas position

An Israeli tank fired at a Hamas position Tuesday after Gazans infiltrated the Jewish state and torched a military post before returning to the Palestinian enclave, the army said. "A number of terrorists infiltrated into Israel and set a military post on fire. In response, an (Israeli) tank targeted an observation post belonging to the Hamas terror organisation in the southern Gaza Strip," the army said in a statement.

The Israeli position was unmanned at the time, the army said, which could not confirm reports it was a sniper tent. There were no reports of casualties from Gaza. In a separate incident, a drone from northern Gaza landed in Israel overnight and was being "examined," the army said.

No timeframe for

Abbas discharge from hospital

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas remained in hospital for a third day Tuesday with pneumonia, with a hospital spokeswoman saying there was as yet no timeframe for his discharge.

"He is doing fine but still needs to take care," the spokeswoman for the Istishari Arab Hospital near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank told AFP.

"Until now there is no news about a timeframe for when he might leave."

Pictures and video of 83-year-old Abbas walking around the wards and reading a newspaper were published late Monday, in an apparent attempt to calm rumours that his condition was more serious than reported. Ahmad Tibi, an Israeli Arab member of parliament, said on Twitter he had visited Abbas late Monday.

"He suffers from pneumonia and is treated with antibiotics," said Tibi, who is also a doctor, adding he was expected to spend "several more days" in hospital.

Abbas was admitted to hospital Sunday with a high fever. Last week, he underwent what was called minor ear surgery.

His health is the subject of regular speculation, with no clear successor identified.

In February, he underwent what was then described as routine medical tests in the United States.