ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 147

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ICC prosecutor ‘deeply concerned’ by Rafah bombing, potential ground op

Karim Khan, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, addresses a UN Security Council meeting on July 13, 2023, at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Karim Khan, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, addresses a UN Security Council meeting on July 13, 2023, at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor voices deep concern about a possible Israeli ground offensive into Rafah in Gaza, warning that anyone breaching international law would be held accountable.

Karim Khan says in a statement published on X that his office’s investigation into events in Gaza is “being taken forward as a matter of the utmost urgency.”

“I am deeply concerned by the reported bombardment and potential ground incursion by Israeli forces in Rafah,” he says.

The ICC opened a probe in 2021 into both Israel and Hamas, as well as other armed Palestinian groups, for possible war crimes in the Palestinian territories.

Khan previously said this investigation now “extends to the escalation of hostilities and violence since the attacks that took place on October 7, 2023.”

“All wars have rules and the laws applicable to armed conflict cannot be interpreted so as to render them hollow or devoid of meaning,” he says.

“This has been my consistent message, including from Ramallah last year. Since that time, I have not seen any discernible change in conduct by Israel,” he says.

Opening its doors in 2002, the ICC is the world’s only independent court set up to probe the gravest offenses including genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

It is a “court of last resort,” and only steps in if countries are unwilling or unable to investigate cases themselves.

“As I have repeatedly emphasized, those who do not comply with the law should not complain later when my office takes action pursuant to its mandate,” warns Khan.

“To all those involved: my office is actively investigating any crimes allegedly committed. Those who are in breach of the law will be held accountable.”

Khan calls for the release of all hostages held by Hamas: “This also represents an important focus of our investigations.”

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