Victims in Palestine and Israel Can't Wait: Urgent Action Must Follow This Positive Step Toward Accountability


The International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) acknowledges and welcomes the decisive action undertaken by the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), requesting the arrest of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and three Hamas leaders – Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Diab Ibrahim Al-Masri, and Ismail Haniyeh – for war crimes and crimes against humanity. This decision strengthens and complements the most recent accountability path opened at the international level: the case at the International Court of Justice against Israel, accused of alleged violations of its obligations under the Convention of Prevention of Genocide.  

This significant development not only addresses the longstanding criticism of double standards directed at the ICC but also values, reaffirms and endorses the amount of existing evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by all parties to the conflict. 

It is imperative to underscore that the decision does not draw an equivalence between Israel and Hamas. Rather, it provides equitable acknowledgment and prospects of criminal accountability to victims from both sides. International Humanitarian Law is unequivocal in its role of evaluating conducts of all parties to the conflict, irrespective of their affiliations, and holding them accountable to universally applicable obligations. 

ICTJ earnestly calls upon all states to honor their obligations as enshrined in the Geneva Conventions, the Convention on the Prevention of Genocide, as long as other relevant instruments of International Law, including the Rome Statute. In these critical times, the imperative for international cooperation and adherence to established legal frameworks cannot be overstated.  

Victims can’t wait: they have the right to and deserve to see effective criminal prosecutions and punishment for the perpetrators, but their rights and their current and future justice needs go beyond criminal accountability. 

We fervently hope that this new development, even if unlikely to be materialized any time soon, contributes to the realization of an immediate cease-fire, thereby bringing an end to the ongoing humanitarian crisis and the release of hostages. 

These are essential prerequisites for initiating long overdue processes aimed at addressing the root causes of this conflict, thereby laying the groundwork for a more comprehensive and long-awaited endeavor toward achieving justice and sustainable peace. 

Read the statement of ICC Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan KC here.


PHOTO: ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan — flanked by colleagues – announces his request for arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders in The Hague on May 20, 2024. (ICC)