icc prosecutor
Photo: ICC-CPI

ICC Chief Prosecutor Khan warns Hamas and Israel against breaking the law

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) warns warring parties Hamas and Israel in the face of terror and war crimes.

The Hague (dpa, iz) – The chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, Karim Khan, has warned Israel as well as Hamas of violations of international law in the Gaza war.

“I want to emphasise clearly to Israel that it must make recognizable efforts without further delay to ensure that the civilian population receives basic food, medicine, anaesthetics,” Chief Prosecutor Khan told journalists in Cairo, referring to the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.

And addressing Gaza’s ruling Hamas and “all those in control there”: aid must reach civilians “and not be misused or diverted from it,” the chief prosecutor warned.

Chief Prosecutor: “We need the law more urgently than ever”

“And in times like these, as I have said time and again since my appointment as Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, we need law more than ever. Not law in abstract terms, not law as a theory for academics, lawyers and judges,” Khan wrote in a public statement.

Law must be seen in its application, he said. People need to see that it has an impact on their lives. And “this law, this justice” must be focused on the most vulnerable, he said. “It should be something they can cling to. It’s something they should be able to embrace when they’re facing so much loss, pain and suffering.”

He said that when Khan became prosecutor in June 2021, he set up a separate team to investigate the situation in Palestine. “And over the last two years, as I’ve asked for additional resources, I’ve also steadily increased the resources and staff to investigate Palestine.” He said this was to ensure that he could do justice to his office and the responsibilities that come with it.

“Since 7 October, I have intensified my efforts to get to the places where crimes were committed in Israel, to meet the families of the bereaved, who live in fear as if time has stopped at an extremely painful moment, who are waiting for their loved ones, who are worried about where the hostages are who were kidnapped, and who are praying for their return.

I also tried to enter Gaza, but it was not possible. In Gaza, I wanted to meet the people who are enduring such great suffering, to hear their experiences first hand and, very importantly, to promise them, to assure them that their birth right is justice. Justice belongs to them, and they deserve it as much as any other human being in God’s creation.”

Foto: IDF, via Wikimedia Commons | Lizenz: gemeinfrei

Court could investigate both sides

Khan hinted that the criminal court is already investigating possible crimes on both the Palestinian and Israeli sides. “Obstruction of aid deliveries” under the Geneva Conventions could constitute a breach of law that falls under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, Khan warned. He had visited the Rafah border crossing in Egypt at the weekend.

This is considered the only way to bring urgently needed aid to the coastal strip sealed off by Israel. In the meantime, dozens of trucks with aid supplies have reached the sealed-off Gaza Strip from there.

But according to aid organisations, this is not nearly enough to supply the more than 2.2 million people. Their situation is becoming more and more terrible every day.

Foto: A-One Rawan, Shutterstock

Civilian population must be protected

“The civilian population must be provided with basic food, water and much-needed medical aid,” Khan demanded. Referring to the hostages taken by Hamas in Gaza, the chief prosecutor said hostage-taking was “a grave violation of the Geneva Conventions.”

Terrorists from Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, had carried out a massacre in Israel on 7 October. Since then, Israel has suffered more than 1400 deaths. More than 230 people were abducted.

The death toll in the Gaza Strip continued to rise after Israel’s fierce counterattacks. According to the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Ministry of Health, more than 8000 Palestinians have been killed since the war began.

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