The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court warned that efforts to prevent humanitarian aid from reaching Gaza could be considered a crime.
“Delaying relief supplies as provided for by the Geneva Convention could be a crime within the court’s jurisdiction,” Karim Khan told reporters in Cairo.
Khan visited Egypt on Sunday where trucks with much-needed goods are still waiting at the Rafah crossing.
“I saw trucks full of goods, full of humanitarian aid stuck in an area where nobody needs it – it’s stuck in Egypt, stuck in Rafah,” he said.
“These supplies must reach the civilians of Gaza without delay.”
Khan said “Israel has obligations in relation to the war with Hamas – not just moral obligations, but legal obligations” – to comply with conflict law.
“These principles equally apply to Hamas regarding the firing of indiscriminate rockets at Israel,” he said.
Established in 2002, the International Criminal Court is the only global independent tribunal that investigates the world’s worst crimes, including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Gaza is currently under siege by Israel after the Palestinian militant group Hamas stormed across the border on October 7, killing 1,400 people, mostly civilians. Another 230 people were taken hostage.
Since then, Israel has bombed large parts of Gaza. According to Hamas, the bombing resulted in the death of 8,000 people.
In the war between Israel and Hamas, Rafah is the only passage through which international aid can trickle into Gaza.
Since limited aid deliveries resumed last week through the Rafah crossing, a total of 117 trucks have entered Gaza. Before the siege, about 500 trucks entered Gaza daily. The trucks carried all kinds of aid and goods.
Khan said he wanted to “make it clear to Israel that significant efforts must be made without further delay to make sure civilians (in Gaza) receive food and medicine”.
The United Nations (UN) said on Sunday it was concerned that public order was lacking after food aid centers were looted in Gaza.
UN chief Antonio Guterres said the situation was becoming “more desperate with each passing hour” as the number of injuries increased and essential supplies of food, water, medicine and shelter dwindled.
According to Khan, his office continuously investigates “any crimes committed on the territory of Palestine and any crimes committed by Israel and Palestine, whether they are crimes committed on the territory of Palestine or Israel”.
“This includes the current events in Gaza, as well as the current events in the West Bank,” Khan said.
Khan also emphasized that taking hostages is a violation of the Geneva Convention.
“I call for the immediate release of all hostages taken from Israel and for their safe return to their families,” he said.
Israel, which is not a signatory to the International Criminal Court, has refused to cooperate with the investigation or recognize its jurisdiction.