will the West protect Netanyahu?

  • Post last modified:May 20, 2024
  • Reading time:5 mins read

International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor Karim Khan has submitted his case to ICC judges that Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and defence minister Yoav Gallant should face arrest for war crimes. However, there is every possibility countries like the UK could give them diplomatic protection.

The international crimes include murder and the collective punishment of Palestinians through using starvation as a weapon and intentionally targeting the civilian population.

Since 7 October, Israel has killed at least 35,960 Palestinian people including over 15,000 children.

Starvation as a weapon

Khan’s statement outlines the evidence they have collected:

My Office submits that the evidence we have collected, including interviews with survivors and eyewitnesses, authenticated video, photo and audio material, satellite imagery and statements from the alleged perpetrator group, shows that Israel has intentionally and systematically deprived the civilian population in all parts of Gaza of objects indispensable to human survival.

Israeli’s occupation of Gaza means civilians need over 500 aid trucks to enter per day. But Israel has been letting in only an average of 180 trucks per day.

The systematic withholding of essentials from civilians is compounded through the targeting of aid workers. Analysis from Forensic Architecture shows Israel has attacked aid at least 80 separate times since January.

Forensic Architecture stated that “the frequency and widespread nature of these attacks suggests that Israel is systematically targeting aid.”

A report from Human Rights Watch also suggests that the targeting is intentional. It found eight incidents where Israel attacked aid workers who had shared their coordinates with the state.

According to the UN, Israel has killed at least 254 aid workers since 7 October.

Khan continued:

The effects of the use of starvation as a method of warfare, together with other attacks and collective punishment against the civilian population of Gaza are acute, visible and widely known, and have been confirmed by multiple witnesses interviewed by my Office, including local and international medical doctors. They include malnutrition, dehydration, profound suffering and an increasing number of deaths among the Palestinian population, including babies, other children, and women.

More war crimes

Khan also notes that Israel targeted civilians while they queue for aid. One instance of this is known as the ‘flour massacre’ where the IDF shot and killed at least 112 Palestinians as they congregated to collect aid on al-Rashid Street in Gaza city.

So Israel has been intentionally starving civilians and then killing them when they seek aid. Khan points out this is a war crime on top of a war crime.

Khan’s statement continues:

The siege also included cutting off cross-border water pipelines from Israel to Gaza – Gazans’ principal source of clean water – for a prolonged period beginning 9 October 2023, and cutting off and hindering electricity supplies from at least 8 October 2023 until today.

The ICC statement raises the question of Western complicity. For instance, UK Labour leader Keir Starmer explicitly stated Israel “has the right” to cut off electricity and water to Gazan civilians, a war crime Khan has noted here.

Khan also sought arrest warrants for the head of Hamas in Gaza Yahya Sinwar and two other Hamas leaders. The alleged crimes include taking hostages, murder and inhumane acts.

ICC Israel: will its leaders be arrested?

Israel is not a member of the ICC and Israeli authorities are presently unlikely to hand over their own leaders. So that leaves the 124 countries party to the ICC, including the UK, to arrest Netanyahu and Gallant.

But Israel’s allies can still attempt to block such an arrest through issuing special diplomatic immunity for Israeli leaders.

In March, the UK Conservative government used such immunity for Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz.

With that in mind, if ICC judges accept Khan’s case, that’s only the first step for justice.

Featured image via Int’l Criminal Court – X and IsraeliPM – YouTube

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