World court prosecutor seeks arrest warrants for 'war crimes' - GulfToday

World court prosecutor seeks arrest warrants for 'war crimes'


Prosecutor Karim Khan's request goes to a pre-trial chamber.

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Monday applied for arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and top Hamas leaders on suspicion of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Prosecutor Karim Khan said he was seeking warrants against Netanyahu and Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant for crimes including “starvation,” “wilful killing,” and “extermination and/or murder.”

“We submit that the crimes against humanity charged were committed as part of a widespread and systematic attack against the Palestinian civilian population pursuant to State policy. These crimes, in our assessment, continue to this day,” said Khan in reference to Netanyahu and Gallant.

A panel of three judges will consider the prosecutor’s evidence and determine whether to issue the arrest warrants and allow a case to proceed. The judges typically take two months to make such decisions.

If granted, the warrant means that technically any of the 124 ICC member states would be obliged to arrest Netanyahu if he travelled there. But while the warrant could complicate some travel for Netanyahu, the court has no mechanism to enforce its warrants, relying on its members to play ball.

In a statement, Hamas accused the prosecutor of trying to “equate the victim with the executioner.” It said it has the right to resist Israeli occupation, including “armed resistance.”

It also criticised the court for seeking the arrests of only two Israeli leaders and said it should seek warrants for other Israeli leaders.

Speaking of the Israeli actions, Khan said in a statement that “the effects of the use of starvation as a method of warfare, together with other attacks and collective punishment against the civilian population of Gaza are acute, visible and widely known. ... They include malnutrition, dehydration, profound suffering and an increasing number of deaths among the Palestinian population, including babies, other children, and women.”

Legal experts have told AFP that Hamas and Israel could face war crimes charges over the conflict.

Veteran war crimes prosecutor Reed Brody said the application was “a watershed event in the history of international justice.”

As the heavy fighting has rocked areas of Rafah near the Egyptian border since early May, the UN said more than 810,000 Palestinians have fled the city.

One Palestinian resident, Sarhan Abu Al Saeed, 46, spoke of his desperation: “The question that haunts us is: where will we go? Certain death is chasing us from all directions.”


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