ICC’s Khan erodes credibility of global governance system

The late Archbishop Desmond Tutu decried Israeli apartheid, and for his “sins” the Zionist regime banned him from ever setting foot in Israel. Picture: File

The late Archbishop Desmond Tutu decried Israeli apartheid, and for his “sins” the Zionist regime banned him from ever setting foot in Israel. Picture: File

Published Dec 17, 2023


IN A world where the credibility of the global governance system is on the canvas, Israel’s genocidal extinction of the people of Palestine exposes the depth of the rot hitherto unmatched in modernity.

In a space of just over two months, more than 19 000 Palestinian men, women and children have been killed amid a barrage of indiscriminate Israeli bombardment.

The number of fatalities comprises more than 7 000 children and over 5 000 women, and in fact, very little evidence of life is visible at any given time post-Israeli US-backed airstrikes. So far, nothing has been said about the deaths of domestic animals caught in the Israeli airstrikes or the livestock of Palestinians.

As we speak, thousands of Palestinian children, their mothers as well as their fathers and uncles, remain trapped under heaps of rubble in the aftermath of collapsed residential buildings, UN shelters, refugee camps, hospitals and God-know-what.

Of all the cold-bloodedness of the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) buoyed by the shameless arrogance of the world’s Super Power in Washington, it is rather the Hague-based International Criminal Court that has caught the eye in equal measure. So, let’s turn our attention to the ICC, if we may.

The body’s Chief Prosecutor, one Karim Khan, undertook his first trip to Israel and the Palestine territories a mere fortnight ago.

Let me not go too far back to 1967 when the Palestinian people were defeated by Israel and were never to know peace ever since. Let’s fast-forward to the last 16 brutal years of Israeli occupation of the entire Palestinian territories.

During that time, each day has been marked by Israel’s control and macro-management of Palestinian individuals, groups and in fact the whole population at large.

Freedoms, real or perceived, have been a pipe dream for the stateless people of Palestine. Israel’s brutish force inside the occupied Palestine varies according to regional political control.

Across the Gaza Strip, where Hamas won democratic elections in a free and fair manner, Israel’s repression is at its most fierce. Although in the West Bank, where the moderate Palestinian Authority is in charge, Israeli apartheid is relatively modified, the Jewish wanton oppression and lethal occupation of every square inch of the Palestinian land manifests itself in the most brutal ways. There is no freedom of speech, association or movement.

The late Archbishop Desmond Tutu decried this Israeli apartheid, and for his “sins” the Zionist regime banned him from ever setting foot in Israel.

Now, through all the well-documented contemporary history, and thanks to hordes of Palestinian activists and global human rights pressure groups – the ICC has been noticeably missing in action – literally!

Hence, the recent visit to Israel and Palestine by the ICC boss drew more attention for what prosecutor Khan was going to say. Predictably, Mr Khan didn’t disappoint his western handlers.

First, he set out to Israel at the invitation of the Jewish families that lost members during the Hamas October 7 surprise attacks beyond the fortified Israeli security architecture. Tel Aviv says some 1,200 people were killed.

In swift response the IDF, backed practically by the US military and chorus of western supporters, notably the UK and Germany, let rip across Palestine.

The western media mischievously underplay the long-standing illegal occupation of Palestine as part of the root cause behind the creation of Hamas, and the movement’s more violent nature towards Israel.

Dubbed the “war on Gaza”, the description seeks to cast only a section of Palestine as troublesome or problematic for Israel whereas it is not so at all. “War on Gaza” is a misleading tag as it seeks to suggest that Israel is only against the Palestinians who reside in Gaza.

What a sheer fallacy. Apartheid Israel does not differentiate to that extent. That is why in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and other occupied areas, Palestinians are not objects of scorn and murder in the eyes of the IDF only.

The Jewish settlers, a law unto themselves in so far as the Palestinians are concerned, kill freely and with impunity as Palestinian lives do not matter in both theory, practice and in unwritten law.

So, in the light of this very public knowledge, what kind of guts does the ICC chief prosecutor possess to ignore such a weighty body of evidence? Mr Khan arrived in Israel and offered his commiserations to the Israeli families related to the victims of the October 7 attacks.

Of course, that’s the right thing to do. Similarly, the expectation across Palestine was that Mr Khan was supposed to go to Gaza to see first-hand the destruction the IDF and the US military left in their wake, and continue to cause.

But hell no. He wouldn’t pretend to that extent. Instead, he lambasted Hamas’ attacks of October 7 publicly, securing positive front page coverage across the Israeli and Western media. He left no doubt about his “findings” that Hamas was guilty of war crimes.

But, wait for it: Mr Khan had nothing to say about Israel’s indiscriminate bombings and mass murder of the Palestinians. Instead, hopelessly attempting to play politics, he called on all sides to observe international law.

When an elephant is fighting an ant, Mr Khan would have us believe that the ant is equally guilty to return the punches unleashed by the elephant. Now, let me make myself categorically clear: I am not anti-Semitic.

I have Jewish friends that I hold in high esteem. For my part, I subscribe to no war. In fact, my philosophy is that in any war there can be no winners. Ultimately, peace must return after conflict.

For the powerful pro-Jewish lobby groups, my plea is simple: Israel can never know peace for as long as Palestine knows only Israeli violence. Go figure.

But back to Mr Khan’s shameless hypocrisy. Right at the beginning of the Ukrainian conflict he was quick to issue a warrant for the arrest of the Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Charge?

Allegedly authorising the Russian military to move the Ukrainian children caught in the conflict to Russia. Moscow pleaded not guilty, arguing that they were acting in the best interest of the children, who could have been killed during the shelling.

Actually, Russia has already returned some of the children to Ukraine, saying the aim was never to separate children from their families. The evidence against President Putin is widely regarded across the global south as flimsy.

But nonetheless, Mr Khan did what Washington, London, Paris, Berlin and co expected of him.

If Mr Khan and the ICC are so concerned about the plight of children and civilians caught in conflict, how much more murder and destruction should Israel inflict on Palestinians before Mr Khan issues a warrant for the arrest of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and his war cabinet?

Such behaviour that falls short of the expected highest standards for someone who holds such an important international office as Mr Khan, erodes trust in the global governance system. It’s a shame.

As South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, noted this week: “The international system is in flux.” This, in my opinion, is thanks in part to Mr Khan personally, and the company he keeps in the capitals I outlined above.