Palestinian human rights groups refused to meet with International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan on Saturday, accusing him of dealing unequally with mutual allegations of human rights abuses between Palestinians and Israelis.
Khan is visiting Israel and the occupied West Bank following a request from a group representing the families of those killed in the October 7 attack, but has also met with Palestinian officials in Ramallah.
Karim Khan in Israel
But Palestinian activists have said they refuse to meet him, due to their opposition to what they see as unequal handling of Palestinian and Israeli issues.
Ammar Al-Dweik, director general of the Independent Human Rights Commission, said: “As Palestinian human rights organisations, we decided not to meet him.”
He added: “I think the way this visit was handled shows that Mr Khan is not carrying out his job independently and professionally.”
The two sides have been trading accusations of war crimes and human rights abuses since October 7, when Hamas fighters infiltrated several Israeli residential communities around the Gaza Strip, an attack that Israeli authorities say led to the deaths of 1,200 Israelis and the detention of approximately 240 prisoners.
In response to the Hamas attack, Israel launched air raids on Gaza that have been going on for weeks, as well as carrying out a ground invasion with tanks and troops, which has so far claimed the lives of more than 15,000 Gazans.
Khan is in Israel after receiving an invitation from the families of Israeli prisoners. A meeting is scheduled with some family members and their lawyers.
Last Saturday, Khan met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.
Abbas Khan called for accelerating the investigation and prosecution of “war crimes” committed by Israel in the Palestinian territories, targeting civilians, especially children, women and the elderly.
For his part, Palestinian Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh stressed during his meeting with Khan that the Palestinian issue is a test for the court and international law, and stressed the importance of Israel being subject to the law.
The Palestinian News Agency reported that Shtayyeh made the point by describing what is happening in Gaza and the West Bank as “mass killings, punishments and genocide.”
He added: “Palestine is a test for the International Criminal Court and a test for international law. We call for the need to speed up legal procedures and reveal the facts. If justice is achieved for Palestine, it will be a success for the Court “.
He continued: “No one should be above the law, and Israel does the opposite, as it has been above the law for 75 years.”