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Karim Khan falls into the mire of politics

November 16, 2023 at 3:22 pm

Karim Khan, the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor holds a press conference in Khartoum, Sudan on 12 August 2021 [Mahmoud Hjaj/Anadolu Agency]

On 10 November, 2023, Karim Khan, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, published an article in The Guardian newspaper reflecting his inability and bias towards the Israeli narrative in an ugly way.

Supposedly, Karim Khan is a man of the law who should choose his expressions carefully in order not to be misunderstood or becomes biased towards a party or another, and after assuming his position as a Prosecutor-General of an International Criminal Court that looks into the most serious crimes, he is required to be careful more than ever.

Nevertheless, forgetting his role as an investigator, Khan broke this rule when he thought of himself as an arbiter on the crimes allegedly committed by the Palestinians on 7 October, as he wrote, “I have followed with horror the accounts that emerged from Israel on 7 October as the lives of so many innocent civilians in Israel were torn apart. We cannot live in a world where executions, burnings, rapes and killings are normalised … They are the most un-Islamic of acts and cannot be committed in the name of a religion whose very meaning is peace. These acts represent some of the most serious violations of international humanitarian law.”

Should the Public Prosecutor feel the horror based on false narratives such as rape and arson, or should he carry out his duty to investigate these allegations and check their credibility in order to prepare evidence and indictments? What makes Khan different from Blinken and Netanyahu, who shared the same feelings based on a false narrative, and organised an extermination war against the Palestinian people in an unprecedented genocide in modern history?

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Khan could have issued more neutral statements, as his role requires him to do so. Khan stated that he read reports about the events of 7 October, and the events that accompanied them that may amount to crimes that fall within the jurisdiction of his office, but it is too early, and the allegations must be investigated before reaching conclusions in this matter. However, Khan became part of the heinous propaganda that justified the massacres and justified the ongoing extermination war.

His tone changed and he became much softer when he started talking about the Israeli crimes in the Gaza Strip. He even praised an army that had committed the most horrific crimes in a hundred years, since it is only comprised of gangs ]Haganah, Irgun (Etzel), Betar, Stern Gang (Lehi), Palmach[, and continues committing crimes until today. He said: “Israel has a professional and well-trained military. They have military advocate generals and a system that is intended to ensure their compliance with international humanitarian law. They have lawyers advising on targeting decisions, and they will be under no misapprehension as to their obligations, or that they must be able to account for their actions.”

According to Khan, an army that commits the most horrific crimes is capable of distinguishing between military and civilian targets and has lawyers who can provide evidence for that. Is not the terrible destruction, the killing of more than 12,000 and injuring 40,000 enough proof for the deliberate targeting of civilians?

They will not be able to prove that these were military goals, Mr. Khan! Why did you not, instead, say, “I am horrified by this destruction and the huge number of victims, and it would be difficult to prove that these are not war crimes that fall within the jurisdiction of the Court.”

Why did you praise the Israeli army, and judge the actions of the other party? Why did you become a legal advisor to an army that waged five devastating wars on the Gaza Strip and proved to be barbaric, used technology and bombs to kill the Palestinian civilians, and used the lawyers you mentioned and the media to wash away its crimes?

Why did you involve Islam in the actions of one party and not Judaism in the actions of the other party, and say that these crimes are against Jewish teachings and cannot be in the name of a religion? It is clear to everyone, Mr. Khan, and documented videos showed rabbis dressed in military uniform at the head of military units, reciting prayers before launching their heinous attacks on women and children.

In approaching victims, Khan was very decisive and doing injustice to the victims, whereas in approaching the aggressor, Khan acted like a blind ostrich.

Khan also seemed to be lecturing university students and advising them, saying, “For those responsible for targeting and firing missiles, I wish to be clear on three points, in particular. One: in relation to every dwelling house, in relation to any school, any hospital, any church, any mosque – those places are protected, unless the protective status has been lost because they are being used for military purposes. Two: if there is a doubt that a civilian object has lost its protective status, the attacker must assume that it is protected. Three: the burden of demonstrating that this protective status is lost rests with those who fire the gun, the missile or the rocket in question.”

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The downfall of Khan began after he woke up from his deep sleep that lasted 29 months after assuming his position as Public Prosecutor, during which he did not issue any statement regarding the crimes committed in Palestine that were presented to the Public Prosecution Office since June 2014.

After 22 days of the extermination war on the Gaza Strip, Khan appeared in front of the Rafah crossing, the gate to hell that would have burnt him should he have entered it, as it burns the residents of Gaza under the raging Israeli war in there.

Nevertheless, he preferred to cry over the Israeli victims and vowed to investigate the crimes committed against them, while a holocaust was taking place in Gaza. He acted like a relief personnel begging for humanitarian aid to enter, and chose his words carefully to describe the ongoing bombing of the civilian population in Gaza, in a completely biased manner.

The events in Ukraine uncovered Khan’s reality and exposed him to the world. Within a few months since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Khan completed his official investigations, inspected the bombing sites in Ukraine more than once, and participated in political meetings and conferences, most of which were organised by the intelligence and does not fall under his speciality. He went on to push for the issuance of an arrest warrant against Putin, and never mentioned or investigated any crimes committed by the Ukrainian army against civilians.

The massacres committed in the Gaza Strip confirmed that he, like other leaders of the colonial West, was trapped in the events of 7 October. He gave utmost care to the pain of the Israeli, while turning a blind eye to the suffering of more than 2.3 million people in Gaza.

According to Khan, the Palestinian victims do not deserve any investigation, or even publishing a statement or article about the crimes committed against them. Khan could forget for a second the events of 7 October, and write about the crimes that were committed against the Palestinians since 7 June, 1967, or even the 16 years of the Israel siege on the Gaza Strip or the five wars it launched on Gaza.

Since Khan took office in June 2021, experts have not been very hopeful, as he never paid any attention to the Palestine files. In addition to this, the Israeli officials and media stopped attacking the Office of the Prosecutor-General immediately after he took office, contrary to what happened with Fatou Bensouda and her team, who were demonised and sanctioned by the US administration.

The Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court does not have a provision on monitoring the actions of the Public Prosecutor. He acts freely, but he faces great criticism from organisations, legal experts, lawyers and victims in the media, which probably was the reason behind his sudden appearance at the Rafah crossing.

Member States of the General Assembly should meet urgently and work to pass legislation requiring the immediate expulsion of the Public Prosecutor and holding new elections, while legislating a future judicial mechanism to monitor the actions of any person assuming this position with his team and to ensure his transparency and integrity, otherwise, the serious harm caused by Khan to the Court will hinder its work, paralyse it and make it meaningless.

If there is no hope for an international prosecution on the Israeli crimes through Khan, his office and the ICC, a special court must be formed, similar to the Ad Hoc International Criminal Tribunals in Yugoslavia and Rwanda in order to prosecute the perpetrators of serious crimes, achieve justice to the victims, as well as achieve public and private deterrence.

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The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.