The families of nine Israeli victims of the October 7 Hamas massacre have lodged a complaint at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for suspected war crimes.
Lawyer Francois Zimeray, who is representing the families of the victims, said in a statement on Friday that the families also want Hamas prosecuted for genocide, and for the ICC to issue an international arrest warrant for its leaders.
On October 7, the terror group carried out a bloody onslaught in southern Israel, killing some 1,400 people and taking at least 246 hostages, of whom just four have been released, while one was rescued by the Israel Defense Forces. The vast majority of those killed that day were civilians, many of them slaughtered in their homes. At least 260 were massacred at an outdoor music festival.
In his statement, Zimeray confirmed that the complaint being submitted to the ICC concerned only civilians, several of whom were at the music festival near Re’im on the Gaza border.
“The complaint states that the Hamas terrorists do not deny the crimes committed, which they have amply documented and broadcast, and that the… facts cannot therefore be disputed,” he said.
While inside Israel, Hamas terrorists filmed and documented much of their murderous rampage, and in multiple instances stole the phones of their victims and livestreamed their deaths on social media. In other instances, they posted messages or media to victims’ social media accounts or called relatives to taunt them.
Earlier this week, members of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, were offered the opportunity to watch some 43 minutes of raw footage of Hamas’s killings, a week after the film was shown to international media.
In an interview with France’s Radio Classique, Zimeray said he and his legal team have established that the genocide accusation “holds up before the law.”
Zimeray is not the only lawyer to determine that Hamas’s crimes could constitute genocide.
On October 15, over 100 experts on international law issued a statement assessing that Hamas committed multiple war crimes and that its actions likely amounted to genocide.
Any individual or group can bring a case to the ICC, which is located in The Hague in the Netherlands, but it is up to the court’s prosecutor to launch an investigation.
Contacted by AFP, the court was not immediately able to say whether it had received the paperwork.
In 2019, the ICC announced that it would be launching a probe into alleged war crimes committed during the 2014 Israel-Hamas conflict (by both sides), Israeli settlement policy and the Israeli response to protests at the Gaza border. The probe was formally opened on March 3, 2021, and was met with strong criticism from Israel.
On June 12, 2014, Hamas terrorists kidnapped and murdered three Israeli teenagers in the Gush Etzion area of the West Bank. The murder of the three teenagers, Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaer and Naftali Fraenkel led to massive arrests of Hamas members in the West Bank. Hamas’s response with intense rocket barrages from Gaza led the IDF to launch Operation Protective Edge in the Strip. To Israel’s chagrin, the ICC probe only examines the events of 2014 from June 13 onwards, seemingly ignoring the kidnapping that set off the chain of events.
Israel has also repeatedly questioned the jurisdiction of the ICC, saying that as there is no Palestinian state, Ramallah should not have been able to request the investigation.
Israel is not a member of the ICC, but if warrants are issued, certain citizens could be subject to arrest while traveling abroad.
In the wake of Hamas’s October attack on Israel and the subsequent war, International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan said that his institution was conducting “active investigations” into the October 7 massacres, Israel’s response and the situation in the West Bank.
Khan said his office had “active investigations” ongoing into “any crimes committed on the territory of Palestine and any crimes committed, whether it’s by Israel and Palestine or whether it’s acts committed on the territory of Palestine or from Palestine into Israel.”