Human Rights Groups Demand ICC Issue Arrest Warrants on Israeli Officials

JUSTICE, 25 Dec 2023

People's Dispatch | Popular Resistance - TRANSCEND Media Service

Devastation in Gaza, Dec 2023. Fuad Khamash/PRCS

22 Dec 2023 – A joint letter sent to the International Criminal Court also demands an urgent investigation into the allegations of war crimes committed by Israel against Palestinians.

Hundreds of human rights organizations and activists issued a joint call on Wed, 20 Dec asking the International Criminal Court (ICC) to immediately issue arrest warrants for Israeli officials accused of being involved in the genocide of Palestinians in Gaza.

Addressed to Karim Khan KC, the ICC prosecutor, the letter underlines that the warrants are necessary to prevent the “continuing commission by Israeli officials of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes against Palestinians.”

The letter was written in support of the three Palestinian human rights groups, Al-Haq, Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, that had filed a notice to the ICC on November 8, drawing attention to Israel’s continued bombings inside the densely populated areas of the Gaza Strip, the continued siege of the territory, the denial of basic necessities to millions of Gazans such as food, water, fuel, medicine, among others, and the forceful displacement of over a million people.

The human rights groups also accused Israel of using banned toxic gasses against Palestinians.

The letter also highlights the referral to the ICC submitted by five state parties, South Africa, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Comoros, and Djibouti on November 17, listing various crimes allegedly committed by the Israeli forces against the Palestinians, and asking the court to start an investigation.

The letter asks Khan to seek an urgent arrest warrant for Israeli president Issac Herzog, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and defense minister Yaov Gallant after detailing the above-mentioned crimes under article 58 (1)(b)(3) of the Rome statute.

Reminding Khan of his own statement, made in December after a visit to Gaza, about how “willfully impending relief supplies to civilians may constitute a war crime under the ICC Rome statute,” the letter asks him to act. The letter emphasizes that failure to do so “would undermine the pillars of the rule of international law.”

The letter has been coordinated by the ESCR-Net (International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) which connects over 280 NGOs, social movements and advocates in more than 75 countries.

According to the latest figures presented by Gaza’s Ministry of Health, at least 20,000 Palestinians have been killed and over 55,000 others have been injured in the Israeli bombings and ground offensive inside the occupied Palestinian territory since October 7. Almost 70% of all the Palestinians killed are children, women and elderly.

Almost 90% of all Palestinians in Gaza have been displaced, with the majority not getting enough food or water due to blockade imposed by Israel since the early days of war.

Israel has been accused of committing possible war crimes in Gaza by various human rights groups and UN agencies. They have accused Israel of “collectively punishing” Palestinians as its forces have been found attacking hospitals, patients, health and aid delivery staff, deliberately targeting non-combatants such as journalists, blocking people’s access to food, water and sanitation services and targeting shelter homes in Gaza.

Reacting to the ongoing atrocities and massacre of the Palestinians, S’bu Zikode, president of the South Africa Shack Dwellers movement (Abahlali base Mjondolo) and an ESCR-Net board member said that, “what will end this horrific killing of innocent people, particularly women and children, is the need for justice.”

The signatories to the letter include various groups such as Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement (South Africa), Adaleh Center for Human Rights (Jordan), Anti-Jindal & Anti-POSCO Movement (India), Bread and Freedom Party (Egypt), Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, Project on Organizing, Development, Education, and Research (Mexico), Red Chimpu Warmi (Bolivia), Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (Tunisia) and Union of Palestinian Workers Struggle, among others. Almost a hundred individuals also signed the letter.

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