The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Karim Khan has issued a stern warning that intentionally obstructing the delivery of aid to civilians in Gaza could be considered a war crime.
In a statement from his official account, Khan referenced a letter sent by United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to the UN Security Council (UNSC), employing his exceptional authority under Article 99 to call for an immediate permit for widespread humanitarian aid access to Gaza in order to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe and maintain global peace.
Chief Prosecutor Khan emphasized the urgency of allowing comprehensive humanitarian aid to Gaza, pointing to the potential classification of deliberately impeding aid materials to civilians in Gaza as a war crime under the Rome Statute of the ICC.
"I wish to reiterate in the clearest terms possible that wilfully impeding relief supplies to civilians may constitute a war crime under the ICC Rome Statute." stated Khan.
In his letter to the UNSC, Secretary-General Guterres highlighted the significant danger faced by civilians in Gaza due to Israeli attacks, noting that there was no safe place for civilians and the health system had collapsed in the region.
The warning from the ICC comes amidst escalating tensions and a pressing need for international intervention to address the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza.
Hamas resistance fighters have battled Israeli occupational troops in the heart of southern Gaza's main city where a top resistance leader is believed to be present, while Israel pressed its invasion across the besieged territory.
Israeli troops, tanks, armoured personnel carriers and bulldozers rolled into Khan Yunis, forcing already displaced civilians to flee again, witnesses said.
Hamas said late on Wednesday on Telegram its fighters were engaged in fierce battles against the invading troops "on all axes of the incursion into the Gaza Strip" , as it claimed they destroyed two dozen military vehicles in Khan Yunis and Beit Lahia in the north of the territory.
Humanitarian organisations have warned the spread of Israel's war into the south of Gaza will leave civilians who fled the north, much of which is now devastated, with nowhere to go.
Arab states have sought to leverage UN chief Article 99 activation to push the Security Council to call for a ceasefire within days.
Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour said Arab ministers were due to visit Washington on Thursday and would discuss the draft Security Council resolution with US officials.
"On top of the agenda is this war has to stop," he told reporters as Arab UN ambassadors stood with him. "A ceasefire has to take place and it has to take place immediately."