ICC prosecutor vows to intensify investigations after visiting Israel and Ramallah
December 4, 2023 | by b1og.net
During a historic first visit to Israel and Ramallah, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has pledged to intensify investigations into possible crimes committed by Hamas militants and Israeli forces. Prosecutor Karim Khan emphasized the importance of relying on solid evidence rather than emotion and expressed his commitment to holding those responsible accountable. His visit included meetings with top Palestinian leaders, where he witnessed the aftermath of attacks and called for the release of hostages held by Hamas and other militants. Khan also highlighted the need for humanitarian aid in Gaza and expressed concern over incidents of violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians. With the aim of ensuring objective and verifiable evidence, Khan intends to work with all actors in the conflict to pursue convictions in the courtroom.
ICC Prosecutor’s visit to Israel and Ramallah
During his historic visit to Israel and Ramallah, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Karim Khan, expressed his commitment to intensify investigations into possible crimes by Hamas militants and Israeli forces. In a video message from Ramallah, Khan emphasized that the investigation, which was initiated in 2021, is moving forward swiftly with determination and a focus on solid evidence.
Statements by the ICC Prosecutor
Prosecutor Karim Khan, in both written and video statements, reiterated the priority his office places on the investigation into alleged breaches of international law by both Hamas and Israeli forces. He stressed the need to act based on objective evidence rather than emotions, highlighting the importance of rigor and determination in pursuing justice in this delicate situation.
Prioritizing the investigation into possible crimes by Hamas and Israeli forces
Acknowledging the grave claims of breaches of international law, Khan announced that the investigation into possible crimes committed by Hamas militants and Israeli forces during the recent conflict is a priority for the ICC. The war, which ensued after the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas and other militants, resulted in the death of approximately 1,200 people, mainly civilians, in southern Israel. Additionally, around 240 people were taken hostage, which he deemed a serious international crime that shocks the conscience of humanity.
Claims of breaches of international law
The conflict between Hamas and Israeli forces has witnessed widespread claims of breaches of international law. With the death toll surpassing 15,200 in the Gaza Strip, and around 70% of the casualties being women and children, the situation has garnered international attention. The ICC prosecutor’s visit and commitment to the investigation indicate a dedication to bringing justice and accountability to those responsible for these alleged breaches.
Death toll and injuries during the war
According to the Health Ministry in Gaza, the overall death toll has exceeded 15,200, without differentiating between civilian and combatant deaths. The ministry also stated that more than 40,000 people have been wounded since the start of the war. These numbers highlight the immense human cost of the conflict and the urgent need for accountability for the loss of innocent lives.
Witnessing scenes of calculated cruelty
During his visit, Prosecutor Khan witnessed what he described as “scenes of calculated cruelty” at the locations of the Oct. 7 attacks. This experience further strengthened his resolve to hold those responsible accountable for their actions. By personally witnessing the aftermath of the attacks, Khan gained a deeper understanding of the severity and impact of the alleged international crimes committed.
Call for the release of hostages
Expressing deep concern for the hostages taken by Hamas and other militants during the Oct. 7 attacks, Khan called for their immediate and unconditional release. He emphasized that the ICC was established to address crimes against humanity, and he and his prosecutors are working tirelessly to ensure that those responsible for the hostage crisis are held accountable under international law.
Engagement with local prosecutors
In line with the principle of complementarity, Khan expressed his readiness to engage with local prosecutors. As the ICC is a court of last resort, it steps in to prosecute war crimes when local courts are unable or unwilling to take action. Despite Israel not being a member state of the court and not recognizing its jurisdiction, Khan vowed to work with local prosecutors to uphold justice and ensure that those responsible for alleged breaches of international law are held accountable.
Visiting Palestinian officials in Ramallah
During his visit, Prosecutor Khan met with Palestinian officials in Ramallah, including President Mahmoud Abbas, and spoke with Palestinian victims. This engagement with local authorities and victims further underscores the ICC’s commitment to understanding the situation on the ground and working closely with all stakeholders involved.
International humanitarian law and the Israeli military
Khan emphasized the importance of international humanitarian law in situations like the recent conflict. While recognizing the complexity of fighting in densely populated areas, he reiterated that the law must still apply. He urged the Israeli military, which has well-trained lawyers and systems in place, to address credible allegations of crimes and ensure timely, independent examinations and investigations. By doing so, the Israeli military can demonstrate its commitment to upholding international humanitarian law.
Humanitarian aid in Gaza
Prosecutor Khan highlighted the urgent need for humanitarian aid in Gaza. In his video message, he expressed his concern that doctors were performing operations without proper lighting and children were undergoing surgeries without anesthetics. Khan stressed that it is unacceptable for individuals to suffer unnecessarily, and called on all parties involved to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza and ensure that it reaches those in need. Additionally, he emphasized the importance of ensuring aid provided is not diverted by Hamas for other purposes.
Concerns over settler violence in the West Bank
The ICC prosecutor expressed profound concern over the significant increase in incidents of attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank. Khan underscored that settler violence is unacceptable and stated that investigations are ongoing. He firmly denounced any form of violence, emphasizing that no armed settler should consider it open season on Palestinians. These remarks demonstrate the ICC’s commitment to seeking justice for all individuals affected by the conflict.
Working with all actors in the conflict
Prosecutor Khan emphasized his willingness to work with all actors in the conflict to ensure that any action taken by the ICC is based on objective, verifiable evidence. By collaborating with relevant stakeholders, the ICC aims to build strong cases that can withstand scrutiny in the courtroom. Furthermore, Khan stressed the importance of having a realistic prospect of conviction, ensuring that justice is served effectively and fairly.
In conclusion, the ICC prosecutor’s visit to Israel and Ramallah, along with his statements and engagement with various stakeholders, reaffirm the commitment of the international community to pursue justice in cases of alleged breaches of international law. As investigations move forward, the focus on solid evidence, humanitarian aid, and accountability for all parties involved remains paramount. The ICC strives to uphold international humanitarian law and ensure that those responsible for crimes against humanity are held accountable, promoting a future of peace, justice, and respect for all.