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International Criminal Court prosecutor voices concern over Israeli actions in Gaza city of Rafah

February 12, 2024 at 9:12 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]

The International Criminal Court’s (ICC) prosecutor on Monday expressed deep concern over the reported bombardment and potential ground incursion by Israeli forces in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, Anadolu Agency reports.

“My Office has an ongoing and active investigation into the situation in the State of Palestine. This is being taken forward as a matter of the utmost urgency, with a view to bringing to justice those responsible for Rome Statute crimes,” Karim Khan said on X.

He reiterated the importance of upholding the laws of armed conflict and emphasised that “all wars have rules and the laws applicable to armed conflict cannot be interpreted so as to render them hollow or devoid of meaning.”

Palestinians have sought refuge in Rafah as Israel has pounded the rest of the enclave since Oct. 7. The ensuing Israeli bombardment has killed more than 28,000 people, mostly women and children, and caused mass destruction and shortages of necessities.

Khan pointed out that despite his consistent messaging, including during a visit to the Palestinian city of Ramallah last year, there has been no discernible change in Israel’s conduct.

“As I have repeatedly emphasised, those who do not comply with the law should not complain later when my Office takes action pursuant to its mandate,” he added.

He said his office is actively investigating any alleged crimes and that those in violation of international law would be held accountable.

Khan also called for the immediate release of all hostages held in the Gaza Strip, noting that this remained a critical focus of the investigations.

The Israeli war on Gaza forced the internal displacement of 85% of the territory’s population amid acute shortages of food, clean water, and medicine, while 60% of the enclave’s infrastructure was damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

In an interim ruling in January, the International Court of Justice ordered Israel’s government to desist from genocidal acts and to take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

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