The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Karim Khan, argued this Sunday that the attacks by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas against “innocent Israeli civilians” on October 7 “represent some of the most serious international crimes.”
The head of the ICC issued these statements after meeting this weekend with the Forum for Families of Israeli Hostages in Gaza.
Khan described the acts of the Palestinian militants in their attack on Israeli territory as “deliberate cruelty that shocks the conscience of humanity” and “for which the ICC was created”, after visiting the Beeri kibbutz, Kfar Aza and the compound of the festival in Reim where hundreds of people were murdered, in the largest massacres of that fateful day for Israel.
“I call for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages taken by Hamas and other terrorist organizations. There can be no justification for holding hostages and even less for the flagrant violation of the fundamental principles of humanity by kidnapping children and continuing to hold them in captivity” Khan defended.
“Hostages cannot be treated as human shields or bargaining chips,” he added.
The ICC prosecutor visited Israel in recent days, invited by survivors and relatives of the victims of the Hamas attack, and explained that his trip “is not of an investigative nature,” but was intended to “enter into a dialogue” and “express solidarity.” “.
During the meeting, the families of the hostages still held in the Gaza Strip – around 132 alive and five bodies – called on Khan to “work to bring Hamas terrorists to justice for crimes against humanity and genocide.” “.
They also maintained that “there is a real obligation to immediately open an investigation into those who participated in the cruelty and violence” of October 7 that sparked the war.
For his part, the ICC prosecutor expressed his willingness to work with the families of those murdered and the hostages to “guarantee the accountability of those responsible” for the attack.
Furthermore, at the end of his historic first visit to Israel and Ramallah, he published written messages and videos on social networks committing to investigate the crimes committed by the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) in Israel and by the Israeli Army in the Palestinian territories.
“An ICC investigation into possible crimes committed by Hamas militants and Israeli forces is a priority for my office,” he said.
Since 2021, the ICC has been investigating alleged war crimes in the territories occupied by Israel (the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip), committed by both the Israeli Army and Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups.
The Palestinian Authority government, based in Ramallah in the West Bank, ratified the Rome Statute in 2015, but Israel is not part of the court or accepts its jurisdiction.
The Palestinian Authority has turned to international courts to try to stop Israel’s ongoing “war of revenge” in the Gaza Strip, accusing the Jewish state of committing crimes including “ethnic cleansing” and “signs of genocide” and demanding a halt fire, which is “essential for humanitarian aid access.”
In a video message sent from Ramallah, where he met with the main Palestinian leaders, prosecutor Karim Khan stated that the investigation launched in 2021 “is advancing at a good pace, with rigor and determination.”
“And insisting that we act not on emotion, but on solid evidence,” he added.
Since war broke out following the Hamas attack on October 7, which killed some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, in Israel, and 240 hostages, there have been widespread accusations of violations of international law by Hamas and Israeli forces. Israelis.
The reprisals began immediately, with cuts in the supply of food, water, electricity and fuel in the Gaza Strip – controlled since 2007 by Hamas, classified as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union and Israel – and daily bombings, followed by a land offensive to the north of that territory, which has now expanded to the south.
The war between Israel and Hamas, which continues to threaten to spread throughout the Middle East region, has so far left more than 15,200 people dead in the Gaza Strip, mostly civilians, and more than 40,000 injured, according to the most recent report from local authorities, confirmed by the UN, and around 1.7 million displaced people, also according to the UN, plunging the poor Palestinian enclave into a serious humanitarian crisis.