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ICC prosecutor calls for end to intimation of staff

The International Criminal Court's prosecutor's office last Friday called for an end to what it called intimidation of its staff, saying such threats could constitute an offence against the world's permanent war crimes court.

In the statement posted on social media platform X, the ICC prosecutor's office said all attempts to impede, intimidate or improperly influence its officials must cease immediately. It added that the Rome Statute, which outlines the ICC's structure and areas of jurisdiction, prohibits these actions.

The statement, which named no specific cases, followed Israeli and American criticism of the ICC's investigation into alleged war crimes committed during the Israel-Hamas conflict in the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian enclave.

Neither Israel nor its main ally the U.S. are members of the court, and do not recognise its jurisdiction over the Palestinian territories. The court can prosecute individuals for alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.



Last week Israel voiced concern that the ICC could be preparing to issue arrest warrants for government officials on charges related to the conduct of its war against Hamas in Gaza.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz said Israel expected the ICC to "refrain from issuing arrest warrants against senior Israeli political and security officials", adding: "We will not bow our heads or be deterred and will continue to fight."

In October, ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan said it had jurisdiction over any potential war crimes committed by Hamas fighters in Israel and by Israeli forces in Gaza, which has been ruled by Hamas since 2007.

International law experts told Middle East Eye it could be: allegations of deliberate starvation; impeding the entry of humanitarian aid into the enclave; direct attacks targeting non-military objects such as hospitals, as well as inhumane treatment of Palestinian detainees. 

If Israeli officials are charged, they would have to restrict their travel in and out of the 124 member states of the ICC. 

"Member states have a legal obligation to cooperate fully with the court, which includes arresting those subject to an arrest warrant," Eitan Diamond, of the Diakonia International Humanitarian Law Centre in Jerusalem, told MEE.

"Israel and the Israeli officials concerned would not want to take the risk that states would discharge their obligation." 

Neve Gordon, professor of international law and human rights at Queen Mary University of London, said the issue would put ICC member states' commitment to international human rights law to the test. 

"If, for example, Netanyahu is named on the arrest warrant and he can continue travelling freely and there's no problem, that jeopardises the legitimacy of the ICC itself," he told MEE. 

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