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ICC acknowledges referral from 5 countries including SA to investigate Israel for war crimes

ICC prosecutor Karim Asad Ahmad Khan KC at Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza in October. File photo.
ICC prosecutor Karim Asad Ahmad Khan KC at Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza in October. File photo.
Image: International Criminal Court

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) confirmed receipt of a referral from five countries, including South Africa, to investigate Israel for war crimes.

The department of international relations and cooperation said on Friday it referred the situation in the state of Palestine to the office of the prosecutor (OTP) of the ICC, which was delivered in person by South Africa’s ambassador in The Hague, Vusi Madonsela.

The department said South Africa, along with like-minded states Bangladesh, Bolivia, Comoros and Djibouti, submitted a joint referral of the situation in Palestine to ensure that the “ICC pays urgent attention to the grave situation in Palestine and thereby lending their support to the prosecutor’s investigation. Venezuela will petition the court in writing to join the submission.”

The ICC’s Karim Asad Ahmad Khan KC (King's Counsel) confirmed his office received the referral on Friday.

“In accordance with the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, a state party may refer to the prosecutor a situation in which one or more crimes within the jurisdiction of the court appear to have been committed, requesting the prosecutor to investigate the situation for the purpose of determining whether one or more specific persons should be charged with the commission of such crimes,” he said.

“In receiving the referral, my office confirms it is presently conducting an investigation into the situation in the state of Palestine.

“This investigation, commenced on March 3 2021, encompasses conduct that may amount to Rome Statute crimes committed since June 13 2014 in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

“It is ongoing and extends to the escalation of hostilities and violence since the attacks that took place on October 7. In accordance with the Rome Statute, my office has jurisdiction over crimes committed on the territory of a state party and with respect to the nationals of states parties.”

Khan said when he commenced office in June 2021, he put in place a team to address the situation in Palestine.

“As I stated in my recent visit to Rafah crossing, pursuant to its mandate, this unified team is moving with focus in collecting, preserving and analysing information and communications from key stakeholders in relation to relevant incidents.

“The office has collected a significant volume of information and evidence, including through submissions received via OTP Link, our secure platform to receive submissions. I continue to encourage all those with relevant information to contact my office.”

Khan said he will continue engagement with all relevant stakeholders to resolve the situation and called for full cooperation.

The state of Palestine said it welcomes the referral to the ICC by the five states parties.

“The international impunity Israel enjoys and has enjoyed for 75 years must come to an end,” it said.

“On the heels of the deadliest year for the Palestinian people and a catastrophic humanitarian situation caused by the commission of crimes listed in the Rome Statute, the referral is asking the office of the prosecutor to vigorously investigate the crimes under its jurisdiction and within the context of the situation in the state of Palestine.”



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