Ione Belarra, the leader of Spain’s left-wing Podemos party and the current acting minister of social rights, has called on the acting coalition government to petition the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open a war crimes investigation into Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, citing the on-going aerial bombardment of the Gaza Strip and the devastating blockade that has prevented the free flow of desperately needed humanitarian aid.
‘Using the horrific murders of Israeli civilians by Palestinian armed factions as an excuse to justify Israel’s crimes in general and the massacre in Gaza in particular is unacceptable,’ Belarra said in a video statement posted to X (formerly Twitter) on Monday, and which was subtitled in English (see below).
‘We ask our partner, the PSOE socialist party, to work together to present on behalf of the government of Spain a petition to the prosecutor’s office of the International Criminal Court to investigate the war crimes committed in Palestine by Netanyahu, as was done recently in the case of the Spanish aid worker murdered in the Ukrainian war, as well as those perpetrated by Hamas in Israel and occupied territories against the civilian population,’ said Belarra, who also called for immediate efforts to protect civilians and negotiate an end to the violence. ALSO READ: International law does not allow for mass evacuation, Pedro Sánchez warns Israel.
Israel is not a member state of the ICC, but the top prosecutor for the Netherlands-based court reportedly told the Reuters news agency last week that war crimes carried out by Hamas and the Israeli government fall under the body’s jurisdiction.
In the wake of Hamas’ deadly 7 October attack on Israel, the Netanyahu government has begun what international human rights groups and legal experts have described as a campaign of collective punishment, bombarding the densely populated Gaza Strip, devastating civilian infrastructure, and cutting off the enclave’s supply of food, electricity, fuel, and other critical supplies.
More than 2,600 people in Gaza have been killed since Israel’s bombing campaign began and more than a million have been displaced.
On Friday, the Israeli government ordered the entire population of northern Gaza – more than a million people – to evacuate ahead of an expected ground invasion, a demand that has prompted global outrage. Rights groups have said the order could amount to the war crime of forcible transfer, given that Gazans have been given no guarantee of safe passage or clear assurance that they will be able to return to their homes.
In her statement on Monday, Belarra also urged the EU to ‘stop blindly following’ the United States.
‘The United States and the European Union are not looking the other way or acting in a neutral manner, they are encouraging the state of Israel in its policy of apartheid and occupation that seriously violates human rights,’ she said. ‘Using Hamas as an excuse to murder thousands of Palestinian civilians, including children, is unspeakable hypocrisy on the part of both Israel and the countries that justify it.’
The left-wing Podemos party has been the junior coalition partner in the PSOE-led government headed by acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez. The party is now part of the Sumar group of left-wing formations, led by Yolanda Díaz. ALSO READ: Podemos and 14 other left-wing groups will run in election with Díaz’s Sumar.
We ask our partner that, as the Government of Spain, we bring Netanyahu before the International Criminal Court for war crimes. Here is my official statement 👇 pic.twitter.com/Wuu8nnKfVp— Ione Belarra (@ionebelarra) October 16, 2023