Lazy eyes listen
Two Turkish lawyers and a former politician have petitioned Ankara’s government to file genocide and war crimes charges against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in relation to Israel’s actions in Gaza. The request is expected to be sent to the International Criminal Court, which neither Turkey nor Israel recognise.
Metin Kulunk, a former member of parliament from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), and attorneys Mucahit Birinci and Burak Bekiroglu filed the 23-page case on Tuesday with the Istanbul Prosecutor’s Office.
“Today, we filed a lawsuit at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, representing the conscience of the citizens of the Republic of Türkiye, against the 21st century Hitler, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who must stand trial for the genocide he committed in the Gaza Strip and all crimes against humanity,” Kulunk wrote on X (formerly Twitter), accompanied by the lawsuit’s cover page.
“May God be with our Palestinian brothers and those who defend their just cause to the extent of their strength,” Birinci wrote in a Facebook post.
According to Bekiroglu, the Istanbul office has already transmitted the file to the Turkish Justice Ministry and would send a physical copy to The Hague “no later than next week.”
According to local officials, the Turkish trio has joined a rising international effort to prosecute Israel’s commander over the month-long war on Hamas, which has killed at least 11,000 Palestinian lives in Gaza. After the Palestinian militant group stormed surrounding Israeli settlements on October 7, murdering over 1,200 people and seizing over 200 hostages, Netanyahu promised to destroy Hamas.
According to Human Rights Watch, Israeli strikes on hospitals and other healthcare infrastructure in Gaza amount to war crimes and should be investigated by the International Criminal Court. Algeria launched a case against Israel before the ICC earlier this month, and Colombia joined. Three Palestinian human rights organisations have also done so.
At a political rally last month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel of war crimes, but has not followed through on his statements.
Turkey is unable to initiate official lawsuits before the ICC since it never accepted the Rome Statute, which founded the court. However, according to Turkish media, government agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) can “inform the prosecutor’s office” of crimes and request an investigation.
Israel joined the Rome Statute but subsequently withdrew in 2022. The ICC has claimed jurisdiction over Gaza and the West Bank, which the UN deems to be Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967.
The Israeli army has disputed the charges of war crimes, claiming that it is taking precautions to protect civilians. It also charged Hamas with utilising hospitals.