The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court requests the preventive arrest of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and some Hamas leaders

George Marinescu
English Section / 21 mai

Photo source: facebook/Benjamin Netanyahu

Photo source: facebook/Benjamin Netanyahu

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British prosecutor Karim Ahmad Khan requested, yesterday, the International Criminal Court, to issue an international arrest warrant in the name of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu The ICC prosecutor accuses Netanyahu of several war crimes and crimes against humanity, including the deliberate starvation of civilians in Gaza In the same file, the prosecutor requested the preventive arrest of Yoav Gallant, the Israeli defense minister, as well as the leaders of Hamas - Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Diab Ibrahim Al-Masri and Ismail Haniyeh

Karim Ahmad Khan, prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, yesterday requested the Pre-Trial Chamber to issue international arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Tel Aviv Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, whom he accuses of having committed crimes of war and crimes against humanity in the Gaza Strip, starting October 8, 2023. Also by the same request, Karim Ahmad Khan wants the preventive arrest of Yahya Sinwar (the leader of the Hamas Islamic Resistance Movement in the Gaza Strip), Mohammed Diab Ibrahim Al-Masri ( the commander-in-chief of Hamas' armed wing, commonly known as the "Al-Qassam Brigades") and Ismail Haniyeh (head of Hamas' political wing). Hamas leaders are charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity committed on the territory of Israel and in the Gaza Strip starting October 7, 2023. According to the prosecutor's request, Hamas leaders are charged with extermination, murder, hostage-taking, rape and other forms of sexual violence in the context of captivity, torture, other inhuman acts, cruel treatment and violations of personal dignity.

Regarding the request for preventive arrest of Netanyahu and Gallant, in the application submitted to the International Criminal Court, British Prosecutor Karim Ahmad Khan states: "Taking into account the evidence collected and examined by my office, I have good reasons to believe that the criminal responsibility of Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, and Yoav Gallant, the Minister of Defense of Israel, is charged with the following war crimes and crimes against humanity committed on the territory of the State of Palestine (in the Gaza Strip) beginning on October 8, 2023:

- Deliberate starvation of civilians as a method of war as a war crime, in violation of Article 8-2-b-xxv of the Statute;

- Intentionally causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, in violation of Article 8-2-a-iii, or cruel treatment as a war crime, in violation of Article 8-2-c-i;

- Intentional homicide, in violation of Article 8-2-a-i or murder as a war crime, in violation of Article 8-2-c-i;

- Intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population as a war crime, in violation of Articles 8-2-b-i or 8-2-e-i;

- Extermination and/or murder as a crime against humanity, in violation of Articles 7-1-b and 7-1-a, including starvation of civilians to death, as a crime against humanity;

- Persecution as a crime against humanity, in violation of Article 7-1-h;

- Other inhumane acts as a crime against humanity, in violation of Article 7 l k.

My office maintains that the war crimes referred to in these requests were committed in the context of an international armed conflict between Israel and Palestine and a non-international armed conflict between Israel and Hamas (and other Palestinian armed groups) occurring simultaneously. We affirm that the crimes against humanity mentioned in the petitions were part of a large-scale and systematic attack directed against the Palestinian civilian population in pursuit of an organization's policy. Based on our findings, some of these crimes continue to be committed."

The prosecutor states that the evidence in the file, including interviews with victims and first-hand witnesses, authenticated audio and video documents, satellite images and statements made by members of the group who allegedly committed these crimes, "demonstrates that Israel deliberately, systematically and privately continuously deprive the civilian population of the entire territory of Gaza of the means of subsistence essential for their survival".

In the request of the prosecutor in charge of the case, it is stated that in order to starve the population of Gaza, the Israeli government has completely prohibited access to the three border crossing points - Rafah, Kerem Shalom and Erez - starting from October 8, 2023 for extended periods and then arbitrarily limited the delivery of food and medicine after the reopening of the three points.

Karim Ahmad Khan mentions: "The closure of the water pipelines connecting Israel to Gaza - the main source of drinking water for the people of Gaza - for an extended period from 9 October 2023 the interruption of the supply of electricity and the obstruction of this supply from October 8, 2023 at least until today are part of the extension of the siege. The events occurred alongside attacks on people queuing for food, obstruction of aid distribution by aid agencies and attacks on aid workers, which resulted in deaths and forced many aid organizations to cease their activities in Gaza or to narrow its perimeter. My office asserts that these acts were part of a joint plan to deliberately starve civilians as a method of war and to resort to other acts of violence against the civilian population of Gaza to serve the following objectives: i) eliminate Hamas; ii) increased pressure on Hamas to obtain the return of those held hostage and iii) collective punishment of the civilian population of Gaza perceived as a threat to Israel".

According to the official at the International Criminal Court, the use of starvation as a method of warfare combined with other attacks and collective punishments inflicted on the civilian population of Gaza was confirmed by several witnesses interviewed during the investigation, including Gazan and foreign doctors. He states that this method of warfare has led to problems of malnutrition, dehydration, excruciating suffering and increasing numbers of deaths among the Palestinian population, including newborns, children and women.

Karim Ahmad Khan states: "My office is working to indict two of the individuals who bear the greatest responsibility for this situation, Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Gallant, as co-authors and superiors, under Articles 25 and 28 of the Statute of at Rome. Israel, like all states, certainly has the right to take measures to defend its population, but it cannot therefore evade the obligations imposed on all states to respect international humanitarian law. Whatever the military objectives of the Israeli authorities, the means used by Israel to achieve them in Gaza, namely acts that intentionally cause death, starvation, great suffering and serious injury to the physical integrity of the civilian population, are criminal."

The prosecutor also attached to his requests a 13-page report with the opinions of an impartial group of experts in international law, a group that includes, among others, Adrian Fulford PC - former judge of the International Criminal Court from 2003-2012, Baroness Helena Kennedy - president of the Institute for Human Rights within the International Bar Association, Elizabeth Wilmshurst - former deputy legal adviser of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of Great Britain, Theodor Meron - president of the International Criminal Tribunal that tried war crimes in the former Yugoslavia, more specialists in international law from Columbia, Reading and Cambridge universities.

In the conclusions of the report, the experts show that they unanimously agree with the preparation and submission of requests for the issuance of international preventive arrest warrants, because in the file there are reasonable reasons regarding the commission of the respective crimes and the responsibility of each individual accused. Furthermore, experts say that after closely reviewing the warrant applications, the underlying evidence presented in support of the applications, they are satisfied that the process was fair, rigorous and independent, and that the prosecutor's applications are grounded in law and fact.