Equating Israel with Hamas isn’t even the worst of the ICC’s turpitude

Karim Khan, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, in New York City. Credit: Bumble Dee/Shutterstock.

by Ruthie Blum

(JNS) — The only thing surprising about the decision by International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Karim Khan on May 20 was that it included Hamas, alongside Israel, as deserving of target. Otherwise, it shouldn’t have come as a shock to anyone who’s been paying attention.

Given the ongoing harassment of the Jewish state by the similarly named International Court of Justice, also situated in The Hague, it was just a matter of time before the ICC would spring into abhorrent action.

Coupled with U.S. Secretary of State Blinken’s recent remark about the reasonableness of assessing that “in certain instances, Israel acted in ways that are not consistent with international humanitarian law,” Khan’s move was facilitated. His election to the post in February 2021 was backed by the United States, after all.

To grasp the depth of his perversion of justice, no more than a glance at his announcement is needed.

“On the basis of evidence collected and examined by my office,” he wrote, “I have reasonable grounds to believe that Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, and Yoav Gallant, the minister of defense of Israel, bear criminal responsibility for… war crimes and crimes against humanity committed on the territory of the State of Palestine (in the Gaza strip) from at least 8 Oct. 2023.”

The “crimes” he listed were: “Starvation of civilians as a method of warfare; willfully causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or health… or cruel treatment; willful killing… or murder; intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population; extermination and/or murder… including in the context of deaths caused by starvation; persecution; and other inhumane acts.”

As if that weren’t a vile enough distortion, Khan argued that “the crimes against humanity charged were committed as part of a widespread and systematic attack against the Palestinian civilian population pursuant to state policy.” For effect, he added, “These crimes, in our assessment, continue to this day.”

Because he opened with comparable finger-pointing at Hamas terror-masters Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif and Ismail Haniyeh, anger erupted in Israel and abroad, at least among anyone possessing half a brain and a pair of eyes.

Calling Khan’s decision “a moral outrage of historic proportions,” Netanyahu bellowed, “Israel is waging a just war against Hamas, a genocidal terrorist organization that perpetrated the worst attack on the Jewish people since the Holocaust, while Hamas massacred 1,200 Jews, raped Jewish women, burned Jewish babies and took hundreds hostage.”

He called out Khan for creating a “twisted and false moral equivalence between the leaders of Israel and the henchmen of Hamas.” This, he said, “is like creating a moral equivalence after Sept. 11 between President Bush and Osama bin Laden, or during World War II between FDR and Hitler.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry referred to Khan’s “equating of the attackers and the attacked” as “absurdity incarnate,” “folly of the highest order” and “morally twisted.”

U.S. President Joe Biden responded: “Let me be clear: Whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence — none — between Israel and Hamas.”

Even Blinken, whose own comments earlier this month were “absurdity incarnate,” chimed in. “We reject the prosecutor’s equivalence of Israel with Hamas,” he stated. “It is shameful. Hamas is a brutal terrorist organization that carried out the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust and is still holding dozens of innocent people hostage, including Americans.”

Many pro-Israel, or merely “normie,” pundits have been expressing parallel sentiments, stressing the distinction between Israel and Hamas in order to highlight the ills of Khan’s seeking to issue arrest warrants for the leaders of both. Though emphasizing the above is unavoidable — with the ICC and ICJ cloaking their anti-Israel political activism in legalese — it misses the plot and the bigger picture.

In the first place, it’s a defensive posture. Secondly, the problem with lumping Israel and Hamas together isn’t that the former is better than the latter; it’s that Israel is an ethically laudable country on its own, and never goes to battle unless forced to do so by enemies whose sworn aim is to wipe it off the map.

Furthermore, no military has ever adhered to such strict, self-imposed “purity of arms” edicts. They’re more stringent, in fact, than those governing the Geneva Convention’s laws of war. It’s therefore no accident that civilian casualties in the war in Gaza are, in the words of John Spencer, chairman of urban warfare studies at West Point, “abnormally low.”

Not only that. In its serious efforts to warn noncombatants to get out of harm’s way, the Israel Defense Forces forfeits the element of surprise where targeted attacks are concerned. Airdropping fliers, sending text messages and making phone calls to Gazans will do that.

Naturally, Hamas takes full advantage of being handed the coordinates. And its knowledge of Israeli plans puts IDF troops at severe risk.

Khan’s obfuscation of this reality through an appalling two-fer is purposeful. The Jewish state needs to go on the offensive and shame him for the antisemite that he is. It might also remind him that the most fitting place for a kangaroo court prosecutor is the zoo.

Ruthie Blum, an author and award-winning columnist, is a former adviser at the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.