Samidoun statement on the International Criminal Court, the Resistance, and justice for Palestine

For years, the Palestinian people, at all levels of organization and struggle, have been demanding that the leaders of the Zionist regime are held accountable in international courts, including and especially the International Criminal Court, for their ongoing genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in occupied Palestine. Today, on 20 May 2024, ICC prosecutor Karim Khan announced his intention to seek arrest warrants against not only the Zionist war criminals Benjamin Netanyahu and Yoav Gallant, but also against the Palestinian resistance leaders Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif and Ismail Haniyeh.

Let us be clear: There is no equation to be made between the legitimate resistance of the Palestinian people and its leadership, including Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif and Ismail Haniyeh, and the illegitimate Zionist colonizer. The attempt to equate victim and perpetrator is a fundamental injustice, not the pursuit of long-denied justice.

It is certainly true that the Palestinian resistance recognized this risk, especially given the powerful political interests involved and the track record of the ICC in prosecuting Africans and now, enemies of the imperialist West. In 2014, when the Palestinian Authority acceded to the Rome Statute, and again in 2024, the Palestinian resistance leadership, particularly Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, has stated its openness to international investigations and its willingness to face the ICC if there is an attempt to meaningfully pursue justice against the occupiers and genocidaires of Palestine and their imperialist backers and accomplices.

However, the fact that the resistance is, as always, willing to sacrifice for Palestine, to be subjected to injustice so that their people may see freedom, does not make Khan’s actions any more just, acceptable or fair, nor does it make them legally valid.

Khan’s repeated references to the “rights” of Zionist colonizers, while failing to address Palestinian rights, as well as his legally invalid reference to the so-called “right of ‘Israel’ to defend itself,” when an occupier and colonizer has no right to defend itself against the people it is occupying and colonizing, highlight the ongoing bias of the ICC Prosecutor and his embrace of an imperialist framework for the operations of the Court. He made no mention of the right of the Palestinian people to resist and to liberate themselves through armed struggle, despite its broad support in international law.

It is, in fact, only because of the Resistance, because of the willingness of the resistance fighters, surrounded and nurtured by its popular cradle, that these arrest warrants for the Zionist war criminals are even being proposed and considered. It is the bravery, creativity and revolutionary steadfastness of the Palestinian people and their Resistance, including and particularly through the armed struggle, that has reset the balance of power to the extent that the crimes of the occupier can no longer be greeted with pure impunity.

Every legal achievement has been brought about not by the objective power or application of law, but by the shifting of reality brought about by the Palestinian armed struggle, accompanied by the regional and global forces of Resistance, especially the Lebanese resistance, the Yemeni armed forces, people, government and AnsarAllah movement, stretching through Iraq, Syria and Iran. It also speaks to the growing international popular cradle of the resistance, from student encampments to mass demonstrations to direct actions at arms manufacturers, that are making it clear that business as usual inside the imperial core is impossible so long as the genocide continues.

It is clear that 7 October changed the world. While Khan seeks to pretend that history began on 7 October and ignore the lengthy history of colonialism, ongoing Nakba and ongoing genocide since 1948, the Palestinian resistance made clear on 7 October that the horizon of true decolonization was opened in Palestine, that it was possible not only to imagine but to achieve a Palestine liberated from Zionism and a region liberated from imperialism.

The choice to seek warrants against Netanyahu and Gallant, while not against Benny Gantz, Gadi Eisenkot, Itamar Ben-Gvir, Isaac Herzog, Herzi Halevi and other war criminals, also indicates its bias toward appeasing the political leadership of imperialist powers. Of course, Netanyahu and Gallant are genocidal war criminals whose direction of the current genocide in Palestine cannot be overstated. They have the blood of over 40,000 Palestinians on their hands in just the past seven months alone.

However, the omissions seem to seek to clear the road for a Gantz (or other similarly affiliated) prime ministership of the Zionist regime. The fact that various imperialist powers, and even a significant sector of the Zionist security establishment, think that Netanyahu is not good for the future of the Zionist and imperialist project is not a secret; they believe that other figures are far more trustworthy to secure their prime colonial project in the region. They believe that Netanyahu is securing his own political future and protection from prosecution at the expense of the future of the Zionist project in the region, and this has been one of the major causes of the growing unrest and internal disarray within the “Israeli” regime.

The application for arrest warrants indicates that imperialist powers, including the United States and the European Union, are very worried about the future of the Zionist colony in the region and recognize that it is on the road to its defeat, removal and dissolution.

It must be noted that these imperialist powers, especially the United States, which has threatened a war if its leaders are indicted, refuse to be held accountable before the ICC, a fate they have traditionally deemed acceptable only for the targets of imperialism, especially Africans. The Zionist colonial project in Palestine has always been genocidal. Its existence is a war crime and a crime against humanity. The ICC prosecutor’s application for arrest warrants do not even begin to touch the magnitude of its crimes in Palestine.

These omissions are particularly egregious given that the ICC’s limited mandate in Palestine extends back to 2014, yet no crimes before 7 October 2023 are considered in Khan’s decision to seek these arrest warrants. This comes alongside the decision to charge three Palestinian leaders (of the legitimate resistance) as opposed to two Zionist officials (of the illegitimate settler colony and imperialist outpost), and to proffer eight charges against Palestinians, vs. seven against Zionists; and to fail to seek any charges under Article 6 of the Rome Statute, which covers genocide, against the Zionist war criminals.

It is particularly outrageous that while Khan seeks to charge Palestinian resistance leaders with “torture,” he has failed to seek any such charges against the Zionist regime, which is currently imprisoning and torturing over 9,400 Palestinian prisoners. Sixteen Palestinian prisoners’ martyrdom has been documented since 7 October 2023, while at least 27 Palestinians have been martyred in the concentration and torture camps for Palestinian civilians kidnapped from Gaza at Sde Teiman. Palestinian and international sources – and even Zionist whistleblowers – have repeatedly documented and exposed the horrific conditions, medical abuse, brutal torture, forced amputations and starvation being used against Palestinian detainees in both these concentration camps and the Zionist prison system. The photos of Palestinian detainees released after months in prison – such as those of Omar Assaf and Imad Barghouti – underline the level of mistreatment and torture that has become standard in the Zionist jails.

As a counter to the failure to seek to indict Gantz, his fellow members of the “war cabinet” and IOF chief Halevi – let alone all of the Zionist officials responsible for the crimes against humanity and genocide in Palestine since 2014, let alone 1948 — we see the indictment of Ismail Haniyeh, as a political leader of the Palestinian resistance. The pursuit of an indictment against Haniyeh appears to be an attempt to undermine Palestinian presence in current ceasefire negotiations and to add another level of pressure to the Palestinian resistance to accept permanent Zionist and imperialist occupation in Gaza.

It also makes clear that the indictments of Zionist war criminals are selective, while Palestinian resistance leadership is to be targeted in total. We have all confidence in the resistance’s willingness to sacrifice, ability to defend itself brilliantly in court and to win decisively in any fair trial.

The choice of charges against the resistance leaders (exceeding by one those against the Zionists in all cases), invoking numerous debunked and propagandistic Zionist claims, including “rape” and “extermination,” while failing to pursue charges of genocide and apartheid against the Zionist war criminals, further underlines this bias.

We all look forward to seeing Netanyahu and Gallant in the dock and appreciate this clear crack in the armor of impunity for the Zionist regime. We know that it is they who constantly travel around the world to receive billions of dollars in support from their imperial sponsors. At the same time, it is also clear that ICC Prosecutor is not acting as a truly neutral party and is instead carrying out the directives of imperialist powers who would not accept any charges against the Zionist leadership without a “both sides” clause targeting the already criminalized and repressed Palestinian resistance. The equation of the indigenous resistance with the illegitimate colonizer is part of the minimization of genocide rather than its prosecution.

It is further clear that the ICC is not an institution into which we can place trust, as evidenced by its own history and failures to hold accountable any of those responsible for the horrific attacks on Iraq and  Afghanistan, Libya and Syria; the starving of Venezuela through sanctions and blockades, the extraction of wealth in Africa, the attempted mass starvation and genocide in Yemen, the ongoing destabilization and destruction of Haiti.

The ICC has served for too long as a weapon of colonialism rather than a tribunal of justice. We trust the revolutionary justice of the victorious Palestinian people. There can be no equation of colonizer and colonized, of the executioner and the victim.

Glory and victory to the Palestinian resistance, to the Lebanese and Yemeni resistance, to all of the forces of resistance in the region and the world.

Imperialism and Zionism will be defeated, and from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.