ICC Chief Prosecutor: We must show that the law protects all

todayDecember 3, 2023 4

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International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan on Sunday issued a statement on the conclusion of his first visit to Israel and the West Bank over the weekend, attempting to project his authority as encompassing both alleged illegal actions by Israel and the Palestinians.

Khan, who arrived Thursday on an unofficial and unannounced visit, said, “I have just concluded my first visit to Israel and the State of Palestine. During this mission, I had a simple message: my Office is here to ensure that the protection of the law is felt by all.”

He said he was “grateful for the warmth and openness shown by all those I met with during this visit. The clarity, compassion and courage that victims, in particular, in both Israel and Palestine, demonstrated in explaining their experiences were deeply impactful.  While not investigative in nature, this mission allowed me to listen to their accounts and deepen my understanding of what they experienced.”

Khan explained that his “visit to Israel was conducted at the request of family members and friends of Israeli citizens who were either killed or taken hostage by Hamas and other armed Palestinian groups on 7 October 2023.”  

Next, he said that during his visits to both Kibbutz Be’eri and Kibbutz Kfar Azza, as well as at the site of the Nova Music Festival in Re’im, “I witnessed scenes of calculated cruelty. The attacks against innocent Israeli civilians on 7 October represent some of the most serious international crimes that shock the conscience of humanity, crimes which the ICC was established to address.”

KARIM KHAN, new ICC prosecutor. (credit: MICHAEL KOOREN / REUTERS)

Reaching out to Israel to sidestep Israeli legal concerns, he said, “I also stand ready to engage with relevant national authorities in line with the principle of complementarity at the heart of the Rome Statute. Such engagement, like my visit, would be without prejudice to the position of Israel on jurisdiction, and as a non-State Party to the Rome Statute.”

Further, he stated, “I called for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages taken by Hamas and other terror organisations. There can be no justification for the holding of any hostages, and in particular the egregious breach of fundamental principles of humanity through the taking and continued holding of children. Hostages cannot be treated as human shields or bargaining chips.”


During his visit to Ramallah, he noted that he met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayeh, and Minister of Justice Mohammad Shalaldeh.  

“I underlined to them that it was of real significance to me that this represented the first official visit by an ICC Prosecutor to the State of Palestine…Our discussions were highly productive as we look to further deepen our cooperation under the Rome Statute,” he said.

Moreover, he said that he spoke “with the families of Palestinian victims. I was grateful to hear such personal accounts of their experiences in Gaza and the West Bank. We must never become numb to such suffering.”

In relation to Gaza, he tried to walk a tightrope, saying, “notwithstanding any ongoing violations of international humanitarian law by Hamas and other armed groups in the Gaza Strip, the manner in which Israel responds to these attacks is subject to clear legal parameters that govern armed conflict. Conflict in densely populated areas where fighters are alleged to be unlawfully embedded in the civilian population is inherently complex, but international humanitarian [law] must still apply and the Israeli military knows the law that must be applied.”

Khan also said, “Israel has trained lawyers who advise commanders and a robust system intended to ensure compliance with international humanitarian law. Credible allegations of crimes during the current conflict should be the subject of timely, independent examination and investigation. On this visit, I again stressed that the clear legal principles of distinction, precaution and proportionality must be complied with so that the protection of the law is rendered meaningful for those who need it. I emphasized that not only must the letter of the law be complied with, but also the spirit upheld.”

In addition, he said, “The United Nations, the World Health Organization and the International Committee for the Red Cross and Red Crescent have continued to underline the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza. As I have repeatedly emphasised, civilians must have access to basic food, water and desperately needed medical supplies, without further delay, and at pace and at scale.  And when such aid arrives, it must not be diverted or misused by Hamas. I cannot be more clear about this.” 

Regarding settler violence, he stated he has “profound concern with the significant increase in incidents of attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank. I stated that no Israeli armed with an extreme ideology and a gun can feel they can act with impunity against Palestinian civilians. In Ramallah, I heard directly from those affected by such attacks.”

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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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