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ICC prosecutor 'deeply concerned' by situation in Gaza's Rafah


THE HAGUE, Feb 12 (Reuters) - International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan said on Monday he was deeply concerned about reports of bombardment and potential ground incursion by Israeli forces in the southern Gaza city of Rafah.


Khan posted on X after airstrikes in the city that is the last refuge of about a million displaced civilians.

The prosecutor said the court was "actively investigating any crimes allegedly committed" in Gaza and that "those who are in breach of the law will be held accountable".


He later told Reuters that half of the population of Gaza is currently concentrated around Rafah, "reportedly six times its normal concentration".


"When you have a population that is 60% children and women by all accounts, the risks to civilians are profound", he said.


"This situation is one that I give the utmost priority to. It's an issue that we're moving forward on."


Israel is not a member of the Hague-based court and does not recognise its jurisdiction. But Khan said in October his court had jurisdiction over any potential war crimes carried out by Hamas Palestinian militants in Israel and by Israelis in the Gaza Strip.


Israel denies committing atrocities in its attacks on Gaza, which followed the Hamas cross-border raid on southern Israel on Oct. 7 in which 1,200 Israelis were killed and around 240 were taken hostage, according to Israeli tallies.


More than four months on, much of the densely-populated strip of land on the Mediterranean is in ruins, with 28,340 Palestinians dead and 67,984 wounded, according to Gaza health officials.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office has said four Hamas battalions are in Rafah, and that Israel cannot achieve its goal of eliminating the Islamist militants while they remain there.


Civilians should be evacuated from the combat zone, it said.


Reporting by Anthony Deutsch, Charlotte Van Campenhout; Editing by Hugh Lawson, Alison Williams and Andrew Heavens


 

Reuters, 2024

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