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Those responsible for Israel’s crimes must be punished, says former Chilean ambassador

February 8, 2024 at 11:58 am

Nelson Hadad, Chilean lawyer and former ambassador [Facebook]

As Israel’s military offensive — genocide — against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip remains ongoing after four months, the efforts of South Africa at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and popular demonstrations the world over have failed to bring the death and destruction to an end. Nevertheless, the people and solidarity activists across Latin America have not despaired of a ceasefire being agreed, at the very least.

Chilean lawyer and former ambassador Nelson Hadad and 100 of his colleagues, many of them descendants of Palestinian immigrants, took their solidarity one step further and filed a complaint at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. They accuse him of committing crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes in Gaza, all of which violate the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.

READ: In Chile, a Palestinian diaspora makes its voice heard on Gaza

“We presented the papers to the ICC prosecutor in December, with a 46-page briefing in which we substantiated the criminal offences that we attribute to him,” explained Hadad. “The crimes of forced displacement, indiscriminate bombing of cities, hospitals, refugee camps, schools, mosques and churches have been committed, without any distinction.”

In the opinion of these Chilean lawyers, the Israeli retaliation to the Hamas attack on 7 October is disproportionate. “It is collective punishment of the civilian population in Gaza, with forced mass displacement and the extermination of at least 27,000 civilians and wounding of 69,000 others, most of them children and women. At least 8,000 are missing, presumed dead. This should challenge the moral conscience of humanity.”

Such actions, he pointed out, may constitute the crime of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, in accordance with articles 6, 7 and 8 of the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court.

Hadad served as Chile’s Ambassador to Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. He is a Professor of International Relations at the Central University of Chile (UCEN). As the lead lawyer of the group who filed the complaint against Benjamin Netanyahu at the ICC, he is convinced that what we are witnessing in Gaza is the “extermination” of a people.

The evidence is so clear, it’s not a matter of discussion

“They have established a total siege on Gaza as they have cut off all basic supplies without water, without electricity, without food, without medicine, without fuel. The Palestinians are being treated in such an immoral and unlimitedly brutal way that reflects the total dehumanisation of them as a people,” said the professor. “The evidence is so clear, it’s not a matter of discussion. We are appealing to the moral conscience of humanity. Why does the force of the law have to fail over the force of those who are considered to have a licence to commit these crimes with impunity?”

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He pointed out that all countries are in danger if this impunity is allowed to continue. “That’s why they must all condemn Israel´s crimes, denounce the war criminals, ensure that they are held accountable and face punishment according to the penalties of the Rome Statute.”

Mexico and Chile have each submitted a case concerning Israel and Palestine to the International Criminal Court (ICC) asking it to investigate the crimes committed against Palestinians amid the ongoing Israeli aggression in the Gaza Strip since 7 October. Lawyers and human rights organisations are confident that this will lead to concrete action.

“Both Mexico and Chile are democratic countries in which the guiding principles of their foreign policies are based on human rights as a universal value which must be fulfilled at all times, in all circumstances and in all places,” said Hadad. “Chile’s President Gabriel Boric’s position on Palestine has been very definite and very clear in the past two years. He has no personal agenda over it; the defence of Palestine are coherent with the principles of human rights and international humanitarian law.”

He noted that Boric told the UN General Assembly in New York that Palestine has the right to self-determination, and the right to establish its sovereign and independent state. Boric also criticised the Israeli government´s actions since the 1967 Six Day War in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 242, and demanded Israel’s withdrawal from of the occupied Palestinian territories.

Hadad and his legal colleagues who have submitted their file against Netanyahu to the ICC are confident that both their case and that of the Government of Chile will bring the war criminals to justice. Such crimes cannot be allowed to go unpunished, he insisted. “That is why we filed the action before the ICC; to bring them to justice, to apply universal justice and for them to be punished.”

READ: Palestinians live under hunger, bombs and genocide