LONDON: Inter­nat­ional Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan justified his decision to request arrest warrants for Israel’s prime minister and defence minister, saying Israel’s actions were not how war is supposed to be fought.

Khan said on Monday that he was seeking warrants for Benjamin Netanyahu and Yoav Gallant, as well as top Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Ismail Haniyeh and Mohamed Deif, on suspicions of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

His announcement sparked the ire of Israel and its allies, the United States and the United Kingdom, all of which criticised Khan for putting together Hamas, which attacked Israel on October 7, and Israel, which has carried out a relentless military campaign in Gaza since then.

“I couldn’t be clearer, Israel has every right to protect its population and to get the hostages back. But nobody has a licence to commit war crimes or crimes against humanity. The means define us,” Khan, who rarely speaks publicly, told the Sunday Times newspaper.

ICC prosecutor justifies decision to seek arrest warrants of Netanyahu, Hamas leaders

In the interview published on Sunday, he cited a number of allegations against Israel, including “the fact that water was turned off… that people queuing for food [were] targeted, that people from aid agencies have been killed”.

“This is not how war is supposed to be waged,” said Khan.

“I am not saying that Israel with its democracy and its supreme court is akin to Hamas, of course not,” Khan added in his interview.

“If this is what compliance with international humanitarian law looks like, then the Geneva Con­ve­ntions serve no purpose.”

International law

The war in Gaza escalated in October 2023 after Hamas’s unprecedented attack on the occupied territory resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, including Israeli army personnel, according to Israeli official figures. Since then, Israel’s offensive has killed at least 35,984 Palestinians, mostly women and children, in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

Khan said it was a “precarious moment internationally, and if we don’t hold on to the law, we have nothing to cling onto”.

He added that countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia were watching closely as to whether global institutions would seek to uphold international law.

“Are powerful states sincere when they say there’s a body of law or is this rules-based system all a nonsense, simply a tool of NATO and a post-colonial world, with no real intention of applying law equally?” Khan asked.

The warrants, if granted by the ICC judges, would mean that any of the 124 ICC member states would technically be obliged to arrest Netanyahu and the others if they travelled there.

Published in Dawn, May 27th, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

China’s concerns
23 Jun, 2024

China’s concerns

Pakistan has no option but to neutralise militant threat to Chinese projects, as well as address its business and political stability concerns.
War drums
23 Jun, 2024

War drums

If it is foolish enough to launch another war in Lebanon, Tel Aviv will be solely responsible for setting the Middle East on fire.
Balochistan budget
23 Jun, 2024

Balochistan budget

BALOCHISTAN’S Rs955.6bn budget for the fiscal year 2024-25 makes many pledges to the poor citizens of Pakistan’s...
Another lynching
Updated 22 Jun, 2024

Another lynching

The chilling alternative to not doing anything — which appears to be the state’s preferred option — is the advent of mob rule.
Tax & representation
22 Jun, 2024

Tax & representation

THE taxation measures outlined in the budget for the incoming fiscal year have triggered a lot of concern among ...
Life of the party?
22 Jun, 2024

Life of the party?

THE launch of Awaam Pakistan, a party led by former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and former finance minister...