ICC prosecutor visits scenes of Hamas attacks, vows to act on ‘evidence’ of Israeli, Hamas crimes

Palestinian rights groups refused to meet with Karim Ahmed Khan, accusing him of bias after he highlighted Hamas’ atrocities.

By World Israel News Staff

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Karim Ahmed Khan, concluded his first visit to Israel and the “State of Palestine” by saying that a 2021 probe into crimes by Hamas and Israel was advancing “with rigor and determination.”

In a video from Ramallah, following meetings with Palestinian leaders, Khan said investigators were prioritizing to “act not on emotion but on solid evidence.”

The visit comes in the wake of the October 7 Hamas attacks, which involved 3,000 terrorists storming the border with Gaza, resulting in over 1,200 deaths and the seizure of around 240 hostages. The Israeli retaliatory military campaign has pounded terror targets in the Strip. Over 100 hostages have been released in exchange for the release of three times as many Palestinian terrorists from Israeli prisons and a 7-day pause in the fighting, which Hamas broke on Friday with rocket fire into Israel.

Khan’s visit involved discussions with Israeli victim families and called for the immediate release of remaining hostages. Despite Israel’s non-membership in the ICC and its denial of the court’s jurisdiction, the visit was allowed at the request of hostage families, The Times of Israel reported.

The Hostages and Missing Families Forum released a statement thanking Khan “for the extraordinary decision to come and stand by the families in the aftermath of the horrors perpetrated by Hamas in Israel on October 7 and the continued detention of hostages. We expect him to work to bring Hamas terrorists to justice for crimes against humanity and genocide.”

Khan, who was formerly the assistant UN secretary-general, described “scenes of calculated cruelty” corresponding to the Hamas attacks. He said the terror group was guilty of “serious international crimes that shock the conscience of humanity, crimes which the ICC was established to address.”

But he also highlighted the complexities of warfare in densely populated areas, stressing the importance of compliance with international humanitarian law and said that the humanitarian situation there was “not acceptable.”

“Imagine the pain of operations on children, on anybody, on any of us, without anesthetics,” he said.

“If Israel doesn’t comply now, it shouldn’t complain later,” he said.

He expressed concerns over settler violence in the Judea and Samaria and emphasized the need for objective and verifiable evidence in investigations. “It isn’t open season for [harming] Palestinians,” he said.

The visit, however, faced criticism from Palestinian human rights groups, accusing Khan of bias after he highlighted Hamas’ atrocities.

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“As Palestinian human rights organizations, we decided not to meet him,” Ammar Dwaik, director general of the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR), told Reuters, after his group refused to meet with Khan.

“I think the way this visit has been handled shows that Mr. Khan is not handling his work in an independent and professional manner,” he added.

The ICC had previously announced a probe into alleged war crimes by both sides in the 2014 Israel-Hamas conflict.