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Australia must support landmark ICC application for arrest warrants in the Situation in Palestine

Media Release - 21 May 2024

The Australian Centre for International Justice (ACIJ) welcomes the announcement overnight from the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) that he has made an application for arrest warrants to be issued against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Diab Ibrahim Al-Masri (Deif) and Ismail Haniyeh.

ACIJ calls on the Australian Government: to commit to supporting steps taken to ensure accountability for crimes committed on the territory of the State of Palestine; to rescind in full the Morrison Government’s 2020 attempt to stop an investigation at the ICC from being opened, and; to declare its support for the independence of the Court as it comes under attack.

As a party to the Rome Statute, the Australian Government is legally bound to fully cooperate with any warrant issued.

Executive Director of the Australian Centre for International Justice, Ms Rawan Arraf said:

“​​This is a welcome step to end Israel’s entrenched impunity and to hold those responsible for the commission of international crimes accountable and to bring them to justice.

While this is a crucial first step, the Prosecutor must do more to ensure full accountability. The Prosecutor must consider charging Israeli government and military leaders for the genocidal assault committed against the Palestinian people in Gaza. The Prosecutor should apply for warrants for all of Israel’s political and military leadership, and ensure all of Israel’s violations, which amount to crimes under international law, are considered.

We remind the Australian Government that they are duty bound to comply and execute any arrest warrants issued.

These warrants also put the Australian Government on further notice that they may be assisting the commission of international crimes. All arms exports, including of parts and components to Israel, and all defence deals such as the one recently signed with Elbit Systems, must end and be rescinded.”

The Prosecutor’s application for arrest warrants reinforces the obligation incumbent on the Australian Government to investigate Australian citizens who have served and are serving in Israel’s military. Australia must now fulfil that obligation as a matter of urgency.

The Australian Government should refer the strike against World Central Kitchen which killed Australian citizen Zomi Frankcom to the Office of the Prosecutor, and offer secondment support to Prosecutor Khan’s Office. Australia has welcomed hundreds of Palestinians from Gaza who have witnessed unimaginable horror, their evidence could also be crucial to any investigation.”

Furthermore, we call on all Australian Federal and State Governments to urgently review their economic and defence relationships with the State of Israel. Any aid or assistance that is linked to Israel’s litany of international crimes must end. The Australian Federal Police must investigate any individuals and entities who are involved in Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise.”

We call on the Australian Government to condemn the cynical attacks by political leaders on the ICC, which seek to interfere with and undermine the fulfilment of its mandate, in order to protect political interests, entrench impunity for Israeli leaders, and which come at the expense of international justice.”

We call on the Pre-Trial Chamber to judiciously and expeditiously assess the pending applications from the Prosecutor, as the fate of over 2 million civilians in Gaza, thousands of Palestinian prisoners and over one hundred Israeli hostages are at stake.”

The ACIJ acknowledges the work of its partner organisations in Palestine, including Al-Haq, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights and others, who have been relentless in their pursuit of accountability globally, and at the ICC for over 15 years. We endorse their statement released today.

They have called on the Prosecutor to act to ensure the atrocity crimes against Palestinian prisoners and detainees are not neglected and that Prosecutor Karim Khan must also issue warrants for Israel’s political and military leaders for the crime of genocide, for the crimes committed during the Great March of Return, Israel’s 2014 military assault on Gaza, the 17-year illegal blockade on Gaza, Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise and the forcible transfer of Palestinians in the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem, and into Israel, and for the crimes of pillage and apartheid, amongst others.

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For media enquiries contact Rawan Arraf on +61(0)450 708 870.

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