Spain’s minister of social rights released a statement Monday calling on her country’s coalition government to petition the International Criminal Court to open a war crimes investigation into Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, citing the ongoing aerial bombardment of the Gaza Strip and the devastating blockade that has prevented the free flow of desperately needed humanitarian aid.
“Using the horrific murders of Israeli civilians by Palestinian armed factions as an excuse to justify Israel’s crimes in general and the massacre in Gaza in particular is unacceptable,” Ione Belarra, the leader of Spain’s left-wing Podemos party, said in a video statement posted to social media.
“We ask our partner, the Socialist Party, to work together to present on behalf of the government of Spain a petition to the prosecutor’s office of the International Criminal Court to investigate the war crimes committed in Palestine by Netanyahu, as was done recently in the case of the Spanish aid worker murdered in the Ukrainian war, as well as those perpetrated by Hamas in Israel and occupied territories against the civilian population,” said Belarra, who also called for immediate efforts to protect civilians and negotiate an end to the violence.
We ask our partner that, as the Government of Spain, we bring Netanyahu before the International Criminal Court for war crimes. Here is my official statement 👇 pic.twitter.com/Wuu8nnKfVp— Ione Belarra (@ionebelarra) October 16, 2023
Israel is not a member state of the ICC, but the top prosecutor for the Netherlands-based court told Reuters last week that war crimes carried out by Hamas and the Israeli government fall under the body’s jurisdiction.
“It’s horrendous what’s going on, what we’re seeing on our television screens. There has to be a legal process to determine criminal responsibility,” said Karim Khan. “Willful killing, hostage-taking are grave breaches of the Geneva Convention and one has to comply with the law.”
In the wake of Hamas’ deadly October 7 attack on Israel, the Netanyahu government began what international human rights groups and legal experts have described as a campaign of collective punishment, bombarding the densely populated Gaza Strip, devastating civilian infrastructure, and cutting off the enclave’s supply of food, electricity, fuel, and other critical supplies.
Israeli officials have admitted that the assault on Gaza is primarily geared toward inflicting massive damage, not on precisely targeting Hamas.
More than 2,600 people in Gaza have been killed since Israel’s bombing campaign began and more than a million have been displaced. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) warned Sunday that the Israeli airstrikes and blockade have sparked “an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe” as Gaza’s healthcare system nears total collapse.
On Friday, the Israeli government ordered the entire population of northern Gaza — more than a million people — to evacuate ahead of an expected ground invasion, a demand that prompted global outrage. Rights groups said the directive could amount to the war crime of forcible transfer, given that Gazans have been given no guarantee of safe passage or clear assurance that they will be able to return to their homes.
Israeli bombing on Monday reportedly dashed hopes of a temporary agreement to allow people to flee Gaza and let humanitarian aid enter through a border crossing between Egypt and the occupied territory.
In her remarks on Monday, Belarra decried the complicity of European governments and the United States — Israel’s primary supplier of weaponry — in the devastating attack on Gaza and urged the E.U. to “stop blindly following” the U.S.
“The United States and the European Union are not looking the other way or acting in a neutral manner, they are encouraging the state of Israel in its policy of apartheid and occupation that seriously violates human rights,” said Belarra. “Using Hamas as an excuse to murder thousands of Palestinian civilians, including children, is unspeakable hypocrisy on the part of both Israel and the countries that justify it.”
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