ICJ Norway and Defend International Law file complaint against Israeli leaders for complicity in crimes against humanity

ICJ Norway and Defend International Law have filed a complaint with Norwegian prosecutors against Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, member of Israel’s War Cabinet Benjamin Gantz and Chief of Israeli General Staff Herzl Halevi, for complicity in crimes against humanity in Gaza. Crimes against humanity are widespread or systematic attacks in the form of serious human rights violations directed against a civilian population. ICJ Norway is the Norwegian branch of the International Commission of Jurists, while Defend International Law is an initiative of 44 Norwegian lawyers. Both are independent and autonomous, and work to promote respect for international law, the rule of law and human rights.

Benjamin Gantz, Yoav Gallant og Herzi Halevi. Photo: Wikipedia.

The 61-page complaint is in principle filed on behalf of all Norwegian citizens and foreigners residing in Norway who stayed in Gaza from 7 October 2023, at the same time as it is filed specifically on behalf of persons who have so far signed a documented power of attorney to ICJ Norway and Defend International Law. If more persons want to subscribe to the complaint, further information will be submitted. The crimes of Hamas are not covered by Norwegian jurisdiction since Norwegian citizens have not been direct victims of these.

Summary of the Complaint of 28 November 2023

“The crimes against humanity to which this report applies are committed against Norwegian citizens and persons associated with Norway,” according to statement by Terje Einarsen, Professor of Law and Chairman of the Board of ICJ Norway. “Several of the crimes have affected everyone who stayed in Gaza, i.e., about 2.2 million people, making this the most serious criminal case ever that has come up in Norway. What is unique is that Gaza became one continuous crime scene of such violations directed against a civilian population, through the combination of Israel’s blockade and the extensive bombing of Gaza with the consequences this has had for so many innocent civilians.”

The legal basis for the alleged criminal acts is Section 102 of the Norwegian Criminal Code, specifically letter a (killing), letter b (extermination), letter d (forcible transfer of population), letter h (persecution), and letter k (inhumane act), see also Section 15 (complicity) and Section 5 (jurisdiction). The reported crimes against humanity are all considered to have been fully completed as criminal offences within 15 November 2023. The complaint has been filed with the National Prosecutor’s Office (NAST), which is specialized in international crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

From the Press Conference 29 November 2023: Zaki Kahil, Norwegian citizen from Gaza, Terje Einarsen, chairman of the Board of ICJ Norway and Josef Adam Younes, attorney and representing Defend International Law.

The complaint for the crimes in question target three of those with presumably highest responsibility among Israel’s political and military leaders. Since heads of state are assumed to have immunity under international law, the review is not directed at Israel’s current president, prime minister, or foreign minister as they enjoy under international law the «Head of State Immunity» at the state national level as long as they hold their positions.

“It must be an end to Israel’s lack of respect for, and compliance with, its obligations under international law,” according to statement by attorney Kjell M. Brygfjeld of Defend International Law. “For the first time, criminal action must be taken for the responsibility of the Israeli leadership in the completely inhuman suffering inflicted on the Palestinian population.”

The complete complaint in English

The complete complaint in Norwegian

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