ICC warns against ‘threat of retaliation’

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Written By Maya Cantina

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The ICC did not say whether the comments were related to its investigation into possible war crimes committed by Israel or Palestinian groups in Gaza.

The International Criminal Court prosecutor on Friday warned against “individuals who threaten retaliation” against the court or its staff, saying such actions may constitute “a violation of its administration of justice”.

The ICC did not say whether the comments were related to its investigation into possible war crimes committed by Israel or Palestinian groups Gaza and the West Bank.

READ ALSO: UNRWA chief says $267 million in aid to Gaza remains suspended due to ties to Hamas

US media said this week the ICC may issue arrest warrants against Israeli officials including Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has urged US President Joe Biden to prevent the court from doing so.

On Friday, the ICC’s Hague-based chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, told X that it seeks to “engage constructively with all stakeholders whenever dialogue is consistent with its mandate.”

“That independence and impartiality is undermined, when individuals threaten retaliation against the court or against court personnel” if the court “makes decisions” regarding investigations that do not fall within its mandate, he said.

“Such threats, even if not acted upon, may constitute a violation” of the ICC’s “administration of justice,” he said.

“The Office reiterates that all efforts to obstruct, intimidate, or improperly influence its officials must immediately cease.”

Khan’s office declined to answer AFP questions about the origin of the threat of retaliation.

They also declined to comment when asked whether they were referring to their investigation into Israel and the war in Gaza.

The ICC opened an investigation in 2021 against Israel, as well as Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups, for possible war crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Khan said the investigation now “expands into the escalation of hostilities and violence since the (Hamas) attack that occurred on October 7, 2023”.

The New York Times quoted Israeli officials as saying that Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu may be among those indicted by the court.

READ ALSO: The EU committed 70 million euros more to Gaza aid

The ICC is also considering charges against Hamas leaders, the newspaper reported.

A series of Israeli officials in recent days have said any attempt by the court to take action against Israel would be “outrageous.”

Netanyahu said on Wednesday that the ICC “is considering issuing arrest warrants against senior Israeli government and military officials as war criminals”.

“This is an outrageous act,” he said, alleging that the ICC was “trying to put Israel in the dock.”

The United States on Monday said it also opposed an ICC investigation into Israel’s behavior in Gaza.

The ICC is the world’s only independent court created to investigate the most serious violations committed by suspects, including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

They have previously issued warrants to national leaders – most recently Russian President Vladimir Putin over the invasion of Ukraine.

The war in Gaza began after an Oct. 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel that resulted in the deaths of 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of official Israeli figures.

Relentless Israeli counterattacks have killed at least 34,568 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-controlled enclave.

© Agence France-Presse

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