The International Criminal Court (ICC) has received a referral from five countries urging an investigation into potential crimes committed in the Palestinian territories in response to the recent Hamas terror attacks. The nations that submitted the referral are South Africa, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Comoros, and Djibouti.
The ICC’s prosecutor, Karim Khan, explained that the referral was made in line with the Rome Statute, which allows a State Party to request an investigation into alleged crimes falling under the court’s jurisdiction. Khan confirmed that his office was already conducting an ongoing investigation into potential crimes in the Palestinian territories since June 2014.
This development intensifies the scrutiny on both Israel and Hamas, with accusations of war crimes arising in the wake of the escalating conflict. The death toll from Israeli attacks on Gaza has reportedly reached nearly 11,500 Palestinians, while Hamas’s terror attacks claimed the lives of 1,200 Israelis and left 240 people hostage.
The situation in Gaza has been further complicated by Israel’s siege, which has severely restricted access to basic necessities like food, water, and electricity. However, Israel recently agreed to allow two fuel tankers per day into Gaza to support the water and sewage systems, after various calls for humanitarian aid.
The ICC’s involvement highlights the complexity of the conflict and the application of international law. Established after World War II, the international legal framework attempts to balance humanitarian concerns with the military requirements of states.
A recent report by the United Nations documented evidence of potential war crimes committed during the Hamas attack, including accusations of collective punishment by Israel. This report echoes the concerns raised by several human rights groups.
The South African government has called for a ceasefire, affirming that Israel’s bombardment of civilian targets and the denial of basic necessities violate international humanitarian law. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has dismissed accusations of war crimes, emphasizing that their actions are focused on targeting terrorists.
Importantly, Israel is not a member of the ICC and refuses to acknowledge the court’s jurisdiction. Nevertheless, the ICC has persisted in investigating Israeli actions in the occupied Palestinian territories, as confirmed by former prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. Karim Khan has emphasized that both Hamas and Israel have legal obligations to uphold international humanitarian law.
The referral from the five countries to the ICC places the spotlight firmly on the Palestinian territories, signaling a renewed effort to address the potential war crimes committed during the ongoing conflict.
Q: Which countries submitted the referral to the International Criminal Court?
A: South Africa, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Comoros, and Djibouti requested an investigation into potential crimes in the Palestinian territories.
Q: Are there accusations of war crimes against both Israel and Hamas?
A: Yes, both parties have faced accusations of war crimes as a result of the conflict.
Q: What is the ICC’s jurisdiction over the Palestinian territories?
A: Although Israel rejects the ICC’s jurisdiction, the court has continued to investigate Israeli actions in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Q: What obligations do both Hamas and Israel have under international humanitarian law?
A: Both parties have legal obligations to uphold international humanitarian law, as stated by Karim Khan, the ICC’s prosecutor.