Euro-Med Monitor blasts ICC prosecutor for ‘double standards’ on Gaza

ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan’s ‘selective vision is a shameful affront to justice,’ says Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor

The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor has criticized an International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor for “failure” to act on the situation in occupied Palestinian territories, including the Gaza Strip.

In a statement last Friday, 1 December, the Geneva-based independent human rights organization accused Karim Khan of “clear double standards” for not taking “a practical action,” on developments in occupied Palestinian territories and Gaza.

“In light of the extraordinarily high level of documentation — unparalleled in history — of the Israeli wars on Gaza, which fit the definition of a genocide in the making under international law, Khan’s selective vision is a shameful affront to justice,” it said.

Noting that the prosecutor had visited Israel to meet with victims of a cross-border attack by Gaza-based Palestinian group, Hamas, on Oct. 7, the group said he did not meet with “victims of Israel’s occupation and settler terrorism or their families.”

The Israeli army resumed bombing the Gaza Strip early Friday after declaring an end to a week-long humanitarian pause with Hamas.

At least 178 Palestinians have been killed and 589 injured on Friday in Israeli airstrikes, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

The humanitarian pause began Nov. 24 as part of an agreement between Israel and Hamas to temporarily halt fighting to allow hostage swaps and aid delivery.

More than 15,000 Palestinians, mostly children and women, have been killed in Israeli attacks since October seventh.

Around 1,200 Israelis have also been killed, according to official estimates.

Following is the Euro-Med Monitor’s statement, titled, “ICC’s credibility is waning following its attorney general’s secret visit to Israeli settlements”:

In a new statement issued today, 1 December, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor expressed shock at International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Karim Khan’s failure to take any practical action regarding the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly the Gaza Strip, in what appears to be a case of clear double standards and possible political subordination.

Euro-Med Monitor said that in light of the extraordinarily high level of documentation—unparalleled in history—of the Israeli wars on Gaza, which fit all definitions of genocide under international law, Khan’s selective vision is a shameful affront to justice. The rights group connectedhis view of the situation in Gaza to a resolution issued by the UN Security Council giving only certain countries decision-making authority.

Khan conducted a secret visit to the region on 17 November—which was exposed by Euro-Med Monitor at the time—during which he inspected the southern Israeli settlements and coordinated with Israeli authorities regarding the deliberate obstruction of the ongoing investigation into Israeli war crimes in Gaza.

For about two weeks, the ICC Public Prosecutor attempted to conceal his visit, but was compelled to make it public due to growing accusations of his actions impeding international justice, including his trip to Israel and refusal to visit the Gaza Strip thus far.

Since taking office in June 2021, Khan has limited the court’s “priority” to matters that the UN Security Council has referred to it (such as Libya and Darfur, in Sudan), and has downplayed other matters that the court was already investigating, like Palestine and Afghanistan.

In his opening briefing to the UN Security Council in November 2021, Khan reiterated his commitment to linking his work to the Security Council. He also expressed dissatisfaction that “the scarce resources of the Office have been spread too wide” and asked for a review of “all the inventory before the Office”.

This was an explicit reference to the cases that the UN Security Council had not referred to the ICC, including the two separate cases of Palestine and Afghanistan, both of which the United States rejected and responded to in 2019 by canceling the visa of former Attorney General Fatou Bensouda, followed in 2020 by imposing personal sanctions against her and ICC officials.

According to the ICC’s own announcement, the previous Public Prosecutor’s Office had in 2021 begun investigating suspicions of “serious war crimes” committed in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Khan has not issue a proactive statement reminding Israel of the ICC’s mandate to investigate its actions since the start of its latest war on Gaza, which has left more than 60,000 victims either dead, missing, or wounded persons, 1.7 million persons displaced, and has destroyed roughly60% of the Strip.

Khan visited the Egyptian Rafah crossing with Gaza on 30 October, 23 days after the start of Israel’s war on the Strip, and stated that “preventing humanitarian aid” from reaching the Strip could constitute a “crime”. Aid supplies remain restricted, however, and do not come close to meeting humanitarian needs, while Khan remains silent about other crimes that have been well documented by the UN and a large number of international human rights organisations.

It is important to note that on 28 February 2022, less than a week after Ukraine was invaded by Russia—a permanent Council member whose veto would prevent any referral of its conduct to the Court—Khan declared that he wouldopen an immediate investigation into war crimes committed in Ukraine since 2014, the year Moscow annexed Crimea.

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor stressed the critical need to achieve comprehensive justice for all victims around the world. The Geneva-based rights organisation reiterated its call for Karim Khan to assume his responsibilities and put an end to the double standards policy affecting victims’ access to legal accountability in relation to the events in Gaza, similar to his urgent response in other crises, including Ukraine, although it is not an ICC member state.