EU's Borrell Says Some European Countries Are Trying to Intimidate ICC Judges 

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell waits for the start of the EU-Moldova Association Council at the European Council building in Brussels, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP)
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell waits for the start of the EU-Moldova Association Council at the European Council building in Brussels, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP)
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EU's Borrell Says Some European Countries Are Trying to Intimidate ICC Judges 

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell waits for the start of the EU-Moldova Association Council at the European Council building in Brussels, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP)
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell waits for the start of the EU-Moldova Association Council at the European Council building in Brussels, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP)

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Friday some European countries were trying to intimidate International Criminal Court judges over a case against Israeli leaders, and must stop "meddling" and respect the court. 

ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan announced on Monday that he had filed for arrest warrants against Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as three Hamas leaders. 

"The prosecutor has done nothing more than make an accusation and the court will decide," Borrell told Spanish broadcaster TVE. "In the meantime, I ask everyone, starting with the Israeli government and some European governments, not to intimidate the judges." 

"Don't threaten them, don't try to influence their decision, sometimes with threats and very harsh disqualifications," he added. 

Khan accused the three Hamas leaders of crimes including extermination, hostage taking and sexual violence, and the two Israeli leaders of crimes including extermination, using hunger as a weapon and intentionally attacking civilians. 

Israel denies committing war crimes in Gaza, says the ICC has no jurisdiction there and has called on countries to repudiate what it considers a politically motivated rogue court. Hamas has also rejected the accusations against its leaders. 

Several countries have denounced the ICC prosecutor's decision to seek the arrest of the Israelis, including the United States, Israel's closest ally, which is not a member of the ICC. Hungary on Thursday described the request for arrest warrants as a "political decision" that discredited the court. 

The International Court of Justice, a separate court also based in the Hague, was due later on Friday to rule on a separate request from South Africa to order Israel to halt its offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah. 

In a further step that increased Israel's political isolation this week, Spain, Norway and Ireland have announced that they will recognize an independent Palestinian state. 

Israel says this amounts to rewarding Hamas for its Oct. 7 attacks on Israeli territory and would strengthen the armed group. Borrell rejected this criticism. 

"When it is said that this strengthens Hamas, I see it the other way round because the Palestinian world is divided between an authority that we recognize, that we fund, that we engage with... and a terrorist organization that we regard as such," he said. 

Israel launched its war in Gaza in retaliation for the Oct. 7 assault by Hamas-led fighters who killed 1,200 people and took more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies. Israel's subsequent assault on the enclave has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza's health ministry. 

Borrell said other European countries were considering recognizing a Palestinian state, but did not provide further details. He said that criticizing the Israeli government's actions should not be considered antisemitic. 

"Every time someone takes the decision to support Palestinian state-building, something that everyone in Europe supports...Israel's reaction is to turn it into an antisemitic attack." 



UN Human Rights Chief: Unconscionable Death and Suffering Happening in Gaza

A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
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UN Human Rights Chief: Unconscionable Death and Suffering Happening in Gaza

A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)

Palestinians in the Israeli occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem are suffering a drastically worsening human rights environment, alongside "unconscionable death and suffering" in the Gaza Strip, the UN human rights chief said on Tuesday.

"The situation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is dramatically deteriorating," Volker Turk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the opening session of the UN Human Rights Council.

The West Bank, where the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority exercises limited self-rule under Israeli occupation, has seen the worst unrest for decades, in parallel with the war in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas.

Turk said that from the start of the Gaza war in October through mid-June, 528 Palestinians, 133 of them children, had been killed by Israeli security forces or settlers in the West Bank, in some cases raising "serious concerns of unlawful killings".

Twenty-three Israelis have been killed in the West Bank and Israel in clashes with or attacks by Palestinians, he said.

In Gaza, Turk said he was "appalled by the disregard for international human rights and humanitarian law" by parties to the war.

"Israel's relentless strikes in Gaza are causing immense suffering and widespread destruction, and the arbitrary denial and obstruction of humanitarian aid have continued," Turk said.

"Israel continues to detain arbitrarily thousands of Palestinians. This must not continue."

He added that Palestinian armed groups were continuing to hold hostages, including in populated areas, which put both the hostages and civilians at risk.

Israel's permanent mission to the UN in Geneva accused Turk of "completely omitting the cruelty and barbarity of terrorism" in his address to the UN Human Rights Council.

"Hostilities in Gaza are the direct result of Hamas terrorism, decades of rocket-fire and incitement against the Jewish people and the State of Israel, culminating in its brutal attacks against Israel on October 7," the diplomatic mission said in a statement.

Israel's ground and air campaign was triggered when Hamas-led fighters stormed into southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and seizing more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel's offensive has killed more than 37,400 people in Gaza, according to its health authorities, and left much of the enclave's population homeless.