ICC on Retaliation Threats: Everything You Need To Know About It

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The prosecutor for the International Criminal Court issued a warning against intimidation and vague threats on Friday. Israel is reportedly worried that the tribunal may issue arrest warrants related to the Gaza conflict.

The ICC, located in The Hague, did not clarify whether the remark was relevant to its investigation into potential war crimes committed in Gaza and the West Bank by Israel or Palestinian organizations.

Karim Khan, the top prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, stated on X, formerly Twitter, that his office was conscious of the “significant public interest” in its work and that it aimed to “engage constructively with all stakeholders.”

However, it further stated that threats of retaliation against the court or its employees compromise the court’s “independence and impartiality.”

The ICC issued a warning, demanding an end to such actions, saying that “such threats, even not acted upon, may constitute an offence” against the “administration of justice”.

When AFP questioned Khan’s office, they refused to specify which inquiry was involved or where the threats had originated.

According to US and Israeli media reports, the ICC prosecutor may issue warrants against Hamas officials as well as Israeli politicians, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) was “contemplating issuing arrest warrants against senior Israeli government and military officials as war criminals,” according to Netanyahu on X on Wednesday.

He declared, “This would be an outrage of historic proportions,” accusing the ICC of “trying to put Israel in the dock”.

According to the news outlet Axios, Israel threatened to topple the Palestinian Authority if the ICC issued arrest warrants, threatening to take retaliatory action against it.

Congressmen in the US had also threatened Washington with reprisals, according to Axios.

The US claims it lacks jurisdiction and is against the ICC’s investigation into Israel’s actions in Gaza.

Israel and the United States are not represented on the court.

On Friday, the White House restated its stance and denounced any threats made against the ICC.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated at a briefing, “We oppose any threats or intimidation to public officials, including ICC officials.”

Regarding “what could be next and if we would weigh in if they were to move forward” with charges, she said she would not comment.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) was singled out by the Trump administration in 2020 because to the ICC’s probe into Afghanistan. They were lifted by the Biden administration.

Given previous statements from the Israeli government on “threats to the Palestinian Authority in response to the potential issuance of arrest warrants,” one legal expert speculated that the announcement from the ICC’s office of the prosecutor (OTP) was probably connected to the “ongoing investigation in Palestine.”

Gabriele Chlevickaite, a scholar at the Asser Institute for International Law in The Hague, stated that Israel’s purported retaliatory actions were directed towards the Palestinian authorities, “not at the ICC or the OTP”.

nevertheless, “some statements by Israeli officials could be interpreted as threatening the OTP officials indirectly and, or, interfering with the investigation,” according to her.

Under the court’s founding Rome Statute, this would be “but a blatant disregard of the rule of law,” Chlevickaite continued.

In 2021, the International Criminal Court (ICC) began an investigation into potential war crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territories by Israel, Hamas, and other armed Palestinian factions.

The probe, according to Khan, now “extends to the escalation of hostilities and violence since the (Hamas) attacks that took place on October 7, 2023”.

The ICC is the only independent court in the world that was established to look into the worst crimes committed by specific suspects, such as crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide.

Prior to the invasion of Ukraine, it has previously issued warrants for the arrest of national leaders, most notably Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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