The ICC drops a legal and political bomb

The ICC drops a legal and political bomb
The ICC drops a legal and political bomb

LLast Monday, a new ‘shock’ shook the international political and judicial world: the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Karim Khan, requested arrest warrants against the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his minister of Defense, Yoav Gallant, for alleged war crimes.

This initiative immediately triggered a storm of contrasting reactions, commensurate with the complexity and sensitivity of the situation in the Middle East. The accusations against Netanyahu and Gallant, including “deliberately starving civilians” and “intentional homicide,” add a new layer of gravity to an already tragically deadly conflict.

The arrest warrants represent not only a potential condemnation of senior Israeli leaders, but also an implicit criticism of Israel’s military conduct in Gaza, where thousands of civilians have died since hostilities began last October.

At the same time, arrest warrants were also requested against Hamas leaders for equally serious crimes, including “extermination” and “rape”. This balanced approach could be seen as an effort not to polarize international tensions even further, but it provoked indignant reactions from both sides. Hamas denounced an assimilation “of the victim to the executioner”, while Netanyahu vehemently rejected any comparison between Israel and “the mass murderers of Hamas”. Furthermore, the international response was quickly polarized.

US President Joe Biden called the ICC’s move “scandalous”. On the other hand, France reiterated its support for the ICC, emphasizing the importance of judicial independence and the fight against impunity. The ICC’s charges against the two Israeli leaders mark a historic first against a democratically elected head of state, underscoring the universality of the Court’s jurisdiction.

And even though they provoke bristling reactions, these accusations are well and truly founded, and cannot be dissociated from the catastrophic humanitarian context in Gaza. More than seven months of war have left more than 35,600 Palestinians killed, 2.4 million people facing famine, in addition to massive displacements of completely wiped out populations.

The confessions of Edem Wosornu, director of operations for the UN Office of Humanitarian Affairs, describing Gaza as a “nightmare, hell on earth”, illustrate the humanitarian emergency and the need for a lasting political solution. The ICC, by attempting to hold leaders accountable, sends a strong message about the importance of accountability and respect for human rights. However, the question remains whether this judicial intervention can really promote peace or whether it risks, on the contrary, further intensifying tensions.

By FZ Ouriaghli

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