South Korea NGO files case against Israel for Gaza war crimes

South Korea NGO files case against Israel for Gaza war crimes
In an unprecedented move, South Korea has filed a lawsuit for war crimes and crimes against humanity against seven senior Israeli officials.
3 min read
25 June, 2024
Israel's air and ground offensive has killed more than 37,650 people in Gaza, more than 70 percent of whom were women and children [Getty]

A lawsuit has been filed in South Korea against seven high-ranking Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for war crimes committed in Gaza.

The complaint was lodged with the South Korean Police Investigation Agency by the NGO People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD) against Netanyahu as well as Israeli President Isaac Herzog, Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, Foreign Minister Israel Katz, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir.

According to PSPD, the Israeli officials are implicated in "the planning, ordering and execution of crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes".

These include "crimes against humanitarian activities and unique symbols, attacks on medical institutions and ambulances, the use of prohibited chemical weapons, and the employment of illegal warfare methods, such as starvation", according to the group.

The next step involves the South Korean police deciding whether to forward the case to the district prosecutor for further action.

This is the second case to be filed against Ben-Gvir since the beginning of the Gaza war, following one filed in Norway but the investigation was later closed. It is also the first case against Smotrich.

The move has prompted Seoul's foreign ministry to ask the named Israeli officials to consider visiting South Korea to consult with the ministry, according to a Ynet report.

Five ways Israel has violated laws of war in Gaza
1. Indiscriminate attacks: Israeli forces conducted attacks without differentiating between military and civilian areas
2. Use of starvation as a weapon: Israel cut off essential services like water and electricity, and blocks aid entry
3. Forced displacement: Israel has ordered the evacuation of large portions of Gaza’s population
4. Attacks on infrastructure: Israel attacks civilian infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and water infrastructure
5. Failing to warn civilians: Israel has attacked fleeing civilians who were ordered to move to so-called 'safe zones'

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice, whose latest ruling ordered Tel Aviv to immediately halt its military operation in Rafah, where more than one million Palestinians had sought refuge from the war before it was invaded in May.

Last week, the UN human rights office said that Israeli forces have repeatedly violated the laws of war and failed to distinguish between civilians and fighters in the war on Gaza.

In a report on six Israeli attacks that caused many casualties and destroyed civilian infrastructure, the UN human rights office (OHCHR) said Israeli forces "may have systematically violated the principles of distinction, proportionality, and precautions in attack".

"The requirement to select means and methods of warfare that avoid or at the very least minimise to every extent civilian harm appears to have been consistently violated in Israel's bombing campaign," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said.

Separately, the head of a UN inquiry accused the Israeli military of carrying out the "extermination" of Palestinians.

"We found that the immense numbers of civilian casualties in Gaza and widespread destruction of civilian objects and infrastructure were the inevitable result of an intentional strategy to cause maximum damage," said the head of a UN Commission of Inquiry, Navi Pillay.

Pillay also condemned Israel's military methods in Gaza.

"The deliberate use of heavy weapons with large destructive capacity in densely populated areas constitutes an intentional and direct attack on the civilian population," she said.

Israel's air and ground offensive has killed more than 37,650 people in Gaza, more than 70 percent of whom were women and children.