Fri. May 17th, 2024

The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a strong warning against individuals or groups who threaten to retaliate against the tribunal or its personnel, stating that such actions might constitute “an offence against its administration of justice.” The ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) released a statement on Friday expressing concern over potential threats and emphasizing the need for independent and impartial justice.

The ICC’s statement did not specify if the warning was related to its ongoing investigation into possible war crimes committed by Israel and Palestinian groups in Gaza and the West Bank. However, US media reports have suggested that the OTP could issue warrants against both Israeli politicians and Hamas leaders, prompting backlash from Israeli officials.

Israeli officials recently declared that any action by the ICC against Israel would be “outrageous.” On Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu echoed this sentiment on X, formerly Twitter, asserting that the ICC’s contemplation of arrest warrants against Israeli officials would be “an outrage of historic proportions.” He alleged that the ICC’s efforts were aimed at undermining Israel’s sovereignty and legitimacy.

In its statement, the ICC reiterated that threats against the court or its personnel could undermine its independence and impartiality. The OTP clarified that while it aims to “engage constructively with all stakeholders,” threats or intimidation tactics may violate the ICC’s founding principles and, in some cases, constitute an offense under the Rome Statute.

A legal expert from the Hague-based Asser Institute for International Law indicated that recent Israeli statements regarding retaliation against the Palestinian Authority might be related to the ongoing ICC investigation in Palestine. Although these reported retaliatory steps targeted the Palestinian Authority, some comments from Israeli officials could be interpreted as indirectly threatening the ICC’s personnel and thus interfering with its ongoing investigations.

The ICC’s investigation into possible war crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories began in 2021 and now encompasses the escalation of violence following Hamas’s October 7 attack on southern Israel. The court’s focus is on holding individuals accountable for serious crimes, including war crimes and crimes against humanity. The ICC is the world’s only independent court with the mandate to prosecute individuals for these grave offenses.

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