The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Sunday called on both sides of the war between Israel and Hamas to adhere to international law, and to allow humanitarian aid to be delivered to the besieged Gaza Strip.
“On humanitarian access, the law does not allow for doubt,” ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan said after a four-day visit to the sites of the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks in Israel and to the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank.
“Civilians must have access to basic food, water and desperately needed medical supplies, without further delay, and at pace and at scale,” Khan said, adding that Hamas must not misuse such aid.
“All actors must comply with international humanitarian law. If you do not do so, do not complain when my office is required to act.”
Khan offered Israel the court’s assistance in investigating crimes committed by Hamas during the Oct. 7 terror attacks, even though the country is not a member of the Hague-based court and does not recognise its jurisdiction.
“The attacks against innocent Israeli civilians represent some of the most serious international crimes that shock the conscience of humanity, crimes which the ICC was established to address,” Khan said.
But he also called on Israel to do all it can to protect civilians in the Gaza Strip during its attacks on Hamas militants and to stop Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank from attacking Palestinians there.
Accusations of war crimes and human rights abuses have been made on both sides since Hamas gunmen overran several Israeli communities on Oct. 7, killing more than 1,200 Israelis and seizing around 240 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.
In response, Israel launched air strikes and an invasion by tanks and ground troops in the enclave, killing more than 15,000 Gazans, according to Palestinian health authorities.
Khan said the Israeli military response was subject to clear legal parameters.
“Credible allegations of crimes during the current conflict should be the subject of timely, independent examination and investigation,” he said.
Following the Oct. 7 attacks, Khan said his court had jurisdiction over potential war crimes carried out by Hamas militants in Israel and by Israelis in the Gaza Strip.
The court has had an ongoing investigation in the occupied Palestinian territories into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity there since 2021.