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Israeli families bring war crimes complaint to ICC: Lawyer

PARIS: The families of nine Israeli victims of last month’s Hamas attacks have lodged a complaint at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for suspected war crimes, their lawyer said on Friday (Nov 3).

The families also want Hamas prosecuted for genocide, and the ICC to issue an international arrest warrant for its leaders, lawyer Francois Zimeray said in a statement.

On Oct 7, Hamas carried out bloody raids that Israeli officials say killed 1,400 people, mostly civilians.

Israel then launched a massive retaliatory assault against Gaza’s Hamas rulers in which more than 9,200 people have been killed, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

“The complaint concerns victims who were all civilians,” Zimeray said, adding that several of them were at the Tribe of Nova rave party – a music festival.

“The complaint states that the Hamas terrorists do not deny the crimes committed, which they have amply documented and broadcast, and that the … facts cannot therefore be disputed,” he said.

Zimeray told France’s Radio Classique he was always wary of “excessive qualifications” of events. But he and his legal team had established that the “genocide” accusation “holds up before the law”.

Any individual or group can bring a case to the ICC, which is located in The Hague, but it is up to the court’s prosecutor to investigate.

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INVESTIGATIONS ONGOING

“We can confirm that we have received a communication as the sender has made that fact public,” the Hague-based ICC’s prosecutors said.

“The Office of the Prosecutor does not comment on such communications,” chief prosecutor Karim Khan’s office said in a statement to AFP.

But prosecutors will look at the information to see if the crimes alleged were within the court’s jurisdiction, and could be linked to its existing probe into the Palestinian situation, it added.

The communication would be “shared with the relevant team that will consider the information as part of the overall situation and in the context of the team’s ongoing investigative and cooperation efforts,” Khan’s office said.

Opening its doors in 2002, the ICC is the world’s only independent court set up to probe the gravest offences including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

It opened an investigation into Israel as well as Hamas and other armed Palestinian groups for possible war crimes in the Palestinian territories in 2021.

Chief prosecutor Khan has said that any suspected war crimes in the ongoing conflict would fall under the ICC’s jurisdiction.

ICC teams have not, however, been able to enter Gaza, or Israel which is not a member of the ICC.

Last week the Palestinian Authority’s foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki met ICC officials, asking Khan for “immediate intervention” in Gaza.

International legal experts have told AFP that they believe both sides in the conflict have committed war crimes.

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