Home News Why prosecutors publicly issued arrest warrants for Hamas and Israeli leaders

Why prosecutors publicly issued arrest warrants for Hamas and Israeli leaders


ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan decides Publicly seeking arrest warrant For both Hamas and the Israeli leader, this week will be one of the most important and controversial of his career.

sweat defendant Three Hamas leaders found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity over October 7 attack on Israel hostage taking. He also accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Defense Minister Yoav Galant of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity during Israel’s military operation in Gaza, including hunger civilian. A three-judge panel will now consider whether to issue an arrest warrant.

Some countries welcomed the news as a sign that all individuals, regardless of their country or status, are equal before the law, while others – including Israel’s most important ally, the United States – condemned the accusations and blamed Khan There was false equivalence in seeking an arrest warrant. Serves both Hamas and Israeli leaders.

Khan does not have to publicly announce the warrant application. He could have waited to get approval, as was the case last year when an arrest warrant was issued for Russian President Vladimir V. Putin — a process that could have taken weeks or months.

So why is he now going public with such fanfare — not just issuing a Press Releasesas well as social media videos and pre-recorded interview With CNN?

The answer lies partly in the extreme polarization of the conflict, which will subject any legal intervention to intense scrutiny. It also has to do with what the prosecutor’s office hopes to achieve as military operations continue in Gaza, famine looms and hostages remain captive.

As it stands, the chances of Netanyahu or Galant being arrested on these charges are almost zero. Even if a warrant were issued, the men would be safe as long as they do not travel to any ICC member state, as Israel does not recognize the court or its jurisdiction in Gaza, and the court itself has no arrest powers. The prospects for detaining Hamas leaders are equally bleak.

But the International Criminal Court, established in 1998, has the power to pursue cases even if there is little chance that the targeted individual or his or her country of residence will cooperate.

When I asked the prosecutor’s office why it chose to go public now, a spokesperson said via email that it was because Khan had “serious concerns about the continuation of many of the alleged offenses mentioned in the application.”

If war crimes have been committed, legal proceedings have an urgency because they can prevent further harm. The International Criminal Court is charged with investigating and, if necessary, trying individuals accused of the most serious crimes, and its role goes beyond simply bringing prosecutions. back War crimes are not only committed, but ongoing crimes are prosecuted in the hope of stopping or deterring further violations.

Khan has been trying to use his pulpit role to do just that since the early weeks of the war. In a speech in Cairo in October, he warned Hamas that hostage-taking was a crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and a serious violation of the Geneva Conventions, and called for the immediate release and release of all hostages Return home safely. family.

In the same statement, he described seeing aid trucks queuing at the Rafah crossing, unable to deliver supplies to Gazan civilians. “Obstruction of relief supplies under the Geneva Conventions may constitute a crime within the jurisdiction of the court,” he said, calling on Israel to “make immediate and visible efforts to ensure civilian access to basic food, medicine and narcotics.”

Khan told CNN in an interview on Monday that his long-standing message to all parties in the conflict is “comply now and don’t complain later.” But he said Hamas’s failure to release hostages and Israel’s continued obstruction of aid supplies were causing “children to starve.”

Monday’s announcement was carefully crafted, including Khan’s media appearances and publication Separate report by the independent expert groupIt seems designed to present the evidence for the charges as fully as possible and to preempt some of the criticism that would follow.

“Karim Khan must uphold the legitimacy of the prosecutor’s office and the ICC,” said Kevin Jon Heller, a professor at the University of Copenhagen and the prosecutor’s special adviser on war crimes. Heller said he was giving his opinion rather than any “inside information” about prosecutors’ motives, adding: “I think the public knows more about how this case went down than it does about other cases. “It is even more important because the case involves the current head of state and defense minister of a pro-Western country that has very powerful Western friends.”

The legal expert group issued a Opinion articles They also stressed the need for transparency in the Financial Times, writing: “The conflict is perhaps unprecedented in that it has given rise to misunderstandings about the role and jurisdiction of the ICC, with the rhetoric particularly fragmented and, in some cases, even anti-Semitic and Islamophobic.”

U.S. officials were quick to criticize Khan for simultaneously announcing arrest warrants for the leader of the U.S.-designated terrorist group Hamas and the leader of the democratic state of Israel. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the search warrant request “shameful.” “We reject the prosecutor’s equating Israel with Hamas,” he said in a statement Monday, noting Khan’s decision to “get on cable TV.”

Netanyahu also said in a statement about Khan’s actions that day, “How dare you compare the monsters of Hamas to the soldiers of the Israeli army, the most moral army in the world?”

Hamas issued a statement saying it “strongly condemns” attempts to “equate victims with executioners through the issuance of arrest warrants for multiple Palestinian resistance leaders.”

Supporters of the International Criminal Court believe no reciprocity From the announcement: Prosecutors listed specific charges against three Hamas leaders, and then in a separate section laid out an entirely different set of charges against Netanyahu and Galant.

But the decision to issue these requests simultaneously was also important in one sense: to publicly demonstrate that Khan would not discriminate in applying the law.

“If the ICC is to uphold the idea that the rule of law applies equally to everyone, then when it has evidence of a crime committed in one context and another, it should treat both equally,” American University said law professor Rebecca Hamilton. University. Otherwise, it risks “sending the message: ‘Well, if you are an ally of the United States, then we are not going to continue to try to challenge you,'” she said.

In an interview with CNN, Khan described a senior elected leader telling the ICC that it should focus on Crime in Africa and ‘thugs like Putin’. He bristles at the idea that courts should treat perpetrators from wealthy democracies differently.

“What I’ve tried to do lately is look at the evidence, look at the conduct, look at the victims and erase nationality,” he said.

Some critics of the court have questioned why prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for Netanyahu but not for others, including Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is accused of war crimes against his own people. In short, the court has no jurisdiction over Syria.

Although Israel is also not a member of the ICC, the court’s jurisdiction over Gaza derives from the fact that Palestine was granted UN observer status in 2012, allowing it to become a member of the ICC and has asked the court to investigate the situation in Gaza and the West Bank since June 2014.

The case will be one of the toughest tests the ICC has ever faced, both of its credibility and of the principles on which it was founded.

For now, the most likely consequences will be political. The prosecutor’s role carries enough weight in some countries that his decisions can bring shame on those he accuses of crimes and put pressure on foreign allies.

But the political consequences of this shame are not always so straightforward. There are already signs that the accusations have led to Israelis uniting behind Netanyahu and Palestinians uniting behind Hamas. In the short term, a search warrant request may reinforce both sides’ commitment to their current strategies, which may prolong the conflict rather than shorten it. Long-term effects are harder to predict.

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