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On May 20, 2024, ICC Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan filed applications for warrants of arrest in the Situation in the State of Palestine. This comes after the investigation into the situation was opened in March 2021. The Prosecutor emphasized that international law and the laws of armed conflict apply to all, and no one can act with impunity. He highlighted the importance of holding individuals accountable for their actions, especially when it comes to depriving human beings of basic necessities and targeting civilians. The applications were filed against five individuals, including Hamas leaders and Israeli officials.

The ICC Prosecutor applied for arrest warrants against Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Diab Ibrahim Al-Masri, and Ismail Haniyeh from Hamas, as well as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant. These individuals are accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Israel and the State of Palestine, including extermination, murder, taking hostages, rape, torture, and other inhumane acts. The crimes were allegedly part of an international armed conflict between Israel and Palestine, as well as a non-international armed conflict between Israel and Hamas.

The Office of the Prosecutor collected evidence from victims, survivors, former hostages, and eyewitnesses from various attack locations. They also relied on CCTV footage, audio, photo and video material, statements by alleged perpetrators, and expert evidence. The Prosecutor stated that the individuals planned and instigated the crimes and acknowledged their responsibility through their actions. The victims suffered unimaginable pain and cruelty, and accountability is necessary for these unconscionable crimes.

The Prosecutor also presented evidence against Benjamin Netanyahu and Yoav Gallant, accusing them of war crimes and crimes against humanity including starvation of civilians, causing great suffering, willful killing, and intentionally attacking civilians. The evidence shows that Israel systematically deprived the civilian population in Gaza of essential supplies, resulting in malnutrition, suffering, and death among the Palestinian population. The Prosecutor condemned the use of starvation as a method of warfare and emphasized that military goals do not absolve states of their obligation to comply with international humanitarian law.

The applications for arrest warrants were the result of an independent and impartial investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office, assisted by a panel of experts in international law. The panel unanimously agreed that the applications demonstrate reasonable grounds to believe that the ICC has jurisdiction over the crimes, they were committed, and the suspects are responsible. The judges of the ICC will now consider whether the necessary standard for the issuance of warrants of arrest has been met.

The Prosecutor emphasized the importance of accountability and holding individuals responsible for their actions, especially when it comes to war crimes and crimes against humanity. He underscored the devastating impact of the crimes committed and the need to ensure justice for the victims, survivors, and their families. The ICC’s investigation and pursuit of justice in the Situation in the State of Palestine highlight the importance of upholding international law and ensuring that those who commit serious crimes are held accountable.

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