Hamas’s brutal torture and slaughter of more than 1,200 people in Israel on Oct. 7 represents “some of the most serious international crimes that shock the conscience of humanity,” International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan said on Sunday as he concluded a visit to the Jewish State.
Khan traveled to Israel from The Hague at the request of families whose loved ones were murdered or taken hostage by terrorist groups based in the Gaza Strip, the prosecutor announced in a Dec. 3 blog post.
Jerusalem does not recognize the court’s jurisdiction over the Palestinian Authority-Israeli conflict.
“In both Kibbutz Be’eri and Kibbutz Kfar Aza, as well as at the site of the Nova Music Festival in Re’im, I witnessed scenes of calculated cruelty,” wrote Khan. He vowed to work in partnership with victims’ families “as part of our ongoing work to hold those responsible to account.”
He called for the “immediate and unconditional” release of the estimated 137 hostages who remain captives of Hamas, citing in particular “the egregious breach of fundamental principles of humanity through the taking and continued holding of children.”
Commenting on Israel’s military operation against Hamas terrorists in Gaza, Khan noted that the Israel Defense Forces “has trained lawyers who advise commanders and a robust system intended to ensure compliance with international humanitarian law.
“Conflict in densely populated areas where fighters are alleged to be unlawfully embedded in the civilian population is inherently complex, but international humanitarian standards must still apply and the Israeli military knows the law that must be applied,” said the prosecutor.
“As I have repeatedly emphasized, civilians must have access to basic food, water and desperately needed medical supplies, without further delay, and at pace and at scale. And when such aid arrives, it must not be diverted or misused by Hamas,” the blog post continued.
Hamas has consistently, repeatedly stolen humanitarian aid supplies delivered to Gaza for civilians living in the enclave.
During a meeting with Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, Khan discussed ways to “deepen our cooperation under the Rome Statute,” the ICC’s founding charter. The prosecutor said he also spoke with “victims and their families from the West Bank and Gaza.”
The Palestinian Authority in 2015 declared its acceptance of the jurisdiction of the ICC over alleged crimes committed by Israel. There has been no discussion of the alleged crimes committed by Palestinian Authority terrorists against Israelis.
Israel does not recognize ICC jurisdiction over the so-called “situation in Palestine.”
The US likewise has voiced strong objections to the Palestinian Authority joining the International Criminal Court, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken has previously expressed “serious concerns about the ICC’s attempts to exercise its jurisdiction over Israeli personnel.”