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International Criminal Court to probe Israel-Hamas attacks that killed journalists

The media watchdog group Reporters Without Borders has filed two complaints with the court over the past 10 weeks, calling on the court to investigate and prosecute cases of journalists who were killed in the war.
Last Updated : 11 January 2024, 09:41 IST
Last Updated : 11 January 2024, 09:41 IST

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As part of the International Criminal Court's investigation into allegations of crimes in the Gaza Strip, its chief prosecutor will review attacks that killed journalists in the Israel-Hamas war, his office said in a statement Wednesday.

The court, which was formed by the Rome Statute two decades ago to investigate, prosecute and try people accused of war crimes, genocide and other atrocities, is more broadly looking into allegations of war crimes by Israel and by Palestinian militant groups in Gaza and the West Bank.

Under international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute, journalists are protected as civilians. Israel is not a member nation of the court and does not recognize its jurisdiction, so the impact of the ICC's investigation is unclear.

"The Prosecutor has previously underlined his concern about the increasing number of attacks on journalists globally and emphasised that such attacks may constitute Rome Statute crimes," said the statement from the office of the prosecutor, Karim Khan.

The media watchdog group Reporters Without Borders has filed two complaints with the court over the past 10 weeks, calling on the court to investigate and prosecute cases of journalists who were killed in the war.

In the group's first complaint, filed in October, it said that eight Palestinian journalists had been killed by attacks that had caused "disproportionate harm" to civilians. It also characterized the death of an Israeli journalist covering the attacks of Oct. 7 as the "willful killing of a person protected by the Geneva Conventions," which would be a war crime.

In the group's second complaint, filed late last month, it said that seven Palestinian reporters who were killed might have been targeted.

The Israeli military has insisted that it has been acting in accordance with international humanitarian law. The Israeli military has also said that it has never targeted journalists and that operating in war zones carries risks.

"Israel is fighting Hamas terrorists, not the Palestinian population. And we are doing so in full compliance with international law," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday in a video posted on social media.

Speaking from Ramallah, the West Bank, at the beginning of December, Khan said that the court's investigation was moving forward.

Since the start of the war, which began after Hamas invaded southern Israel on Oct. 7 and Israel invaded Gaza in retaliation, 79 journalists and media workers have been killed, according to data from the Committee to Protect Journalists, another media watchdog group. Of those, 72 were Palestinian, according to the data.

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Published 11 January 2024, 09:41 IST

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