Now, ICC Must Investigate British Ministers Too

Arms, training and spying: As the International Criminal Court targets  Netanyahu for war crimes, Mark Curtis flags seven U.K. officials for assisting the Israeli prime minister in three areas.

Karim Khan (centre) announces ICC arrest warrant against Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday. (Screengrab by DeclassifiedUK / ICC)

By Mark Curtis
Declassified U.K.

  • Seven British ministers –  including Rishi Sunak, David Cameron, Grant Shapps and Kemi Badenoch – must be investigated for aiding Israel

With the ICC’s chief prosecutor issuing an application for an arrest warrant against Israel’s prime minister for “war crimes and crimes against humanity,” attention must turn to those who have aided Israel.

British ministers have for months been materially assisting Israel during its onslaught against Palestinians in Gaza. This support is being provided in three main ways.

First, the U.K. is providing arms to Israel. Recently filed court documents reveal that, as of January this year, the U.K. government had 28 extant and 28 pending “high-risk” licences with Israel marked as “most likely to be used by the IDF in offensive operations in Gaza.”

On Jan. 18, Israeli forces bombed a residential compound in Gaza housing the emergency medical team of Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), a British charity. Four British doctors were injured in the airstrike, alongside MAP staff members and a bodyguard. 

The attack was carried out by an F-16 jet, components for which have been supplied by U.K. companies.

But the U.K. continues to arm Israel, rejecting repeated calls by campaign groups, former supreme court judges and some MPs to halt them. 

Second, the U.K. military is training Israeli armed forces personnel in Britain during the genocide. 

The government has admitted that “there are currently six Israeli Armed Forces officers posted in the U.K.” It says “Israel is represented by Armed Forces personnel in its Embassy in the U.K., and as participants in U.K. defence-led training courses”.

Third, the U.K. military is conducting spy flights over Gaza in support of Israel. Declassified has found that over 200 surveillance missions over Gaza have been undertaken by the Royal Air Force, which is likely to have gathered around 1,000 hours of surveillance footage.

None of this spy activity is being used to halt Israel’s attacks on Palestinians. The U.K. government says these surveillance activities are solely to aid the release of hostages held by Hamas.

Although the ICC has also indicted Hamas’ leadership for hostage taking, there is little evidence that Britain’s surveillance of Gaza has helped save lives. Rather it encourages Netanyahu to continue a military campaign and avoid negotiating a ceasefire, a path many of the hostages’ families favour. 

Secrecy to Avoid Prosecution

Westminster Palace, home of U.K. Parliament, from Westminster Bridge, London. (Jim Nix, Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

British ministers are refusing to provide detailed information about these three areas of activity to Parliament, likely to avoid prosecution for complicity in war crimes. 

The U.K.’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) is, for example, refusing to give Parliament further information about its training of Israeli military personnel in Britain or a military agreement signed with Israel in 2020.

The U.K. government is also refusing to give any details about the spy flights over Gaza, which began on 3 December.

Court documents show U.K. ministers decided to continue arms exports to Israel on April 8, one week after the strike that killed three British aid workers who were employed by the charity World Central Kitch en.

Also on April 8, the U.K. began its latest round of negotiations with Israeli ministers to strike a new trade agreement. Rather than sanctioning Israel over its actions in Gaza, the U.K. is deepening commercial relations.

Legitimacy of Investigation

International Criminal Court at The Hague in the Netherlands. (Vysotsky, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0)

The ICC has legitimacy in investigating British ministers since they are shielded legally and politically at the domestic level. 

There is almost no chance the U.K. system will hold ministers accountable for aiding war crimes, particularly since they are protected by “crown immunity”. 

This deems that ministers cannot commit a legal wrong and do not act as persons but as agents steeped with Crown authority, and are therefore untouchable under the law.

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The very purpose of the ICC is to investigate and prosecute the commission, including aiding and abetting, of the most serious crimes when domestic authorities refuse to act. 

They Don’t Care

The international Genocide Convention requires all states to prevent and punish genocide.

The principle of the Responsibility to Protect, adopted by all states in 2005, highlights the responsibility of states to prevent “atrocity crimes” such as war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

U.K. ministers are not only failing to uphold these norms: they are actively supporting those Israeli decision-makers violating them.

British ministers have consistently defended Israel’s attacks on Palestinians as the death toll has mounted to the tens of thousands. They explicitly reject South Africa’s genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice.

Evidence suggests U.K. ministers just don’t care about international law or how many people — Palestinians or Britons — are killed in Gaza.

At the same time, the British government is refusing to publish the legal advice it has received on whether Israel is violating international law in Gaza.

Ministers Responsible

U.K. Foreign Secretary David Cameron, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Home Secretary James Cleverly in November 2023. (Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street)

Arrest warrants have been requested by the ICC’s chief prosecutor, British barrister Karim Khan, from a panel of ICC judges for Netanyahu and his Defence Minister Yoav Gallant. 

Khan says he has “reasonable grounds to believe” that the two Israeli ministers “bear criminal responsibility” for crimes including “starvation of civilians as a method of warfare”, “intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population” and “extermination and/or murder”. 

Rishi Sunak as prime minister, along with Foreign Secretary David Cameron, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch — who all approve U.K. arms exports to Israel — must be investigated over their complicity in war crimes.

Deputy Foreign Secretary Andrew Mitchell, who has acted as the government’s chief apologist for Israel’s actions in the British Parliament, should also not escape the ICC’s attention.

Nor should Defence Minister Leo Doherty and former Foreign Secretary James Cleverly (now home secretary), who contributed to U.K. government decisions on policy towards Israel. 

Mark Curtis is the editor of Declassified UK, and the author of five books and many articles on U.K. foreign policy.

This article is from Declassified UK.

Views expressed in this article may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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26 comments for “Now, ICC Must Investigate British Ministers Too

  1. Silver Lining
    May 22, 2024 at 09:16

    Fear not, Richest Eunuch will soon be voted out of office and Kid Starver, his likely successor, as a former head of the Crown Prosecution Service will no doubt take a principled approach to the whole genocide business.
    Won’t he?

  2. Red Star
    May 22, 2024 at 06:14

    According to The Skwawkbox, 20/05/24 :

    “Keir Starmer, Rishi Sunak and other UK MPs may be looking uneasily over their shoulder tonight after receiving a renewed warning from the lawyer leading a pro-Palestinian justice group about their own guilt regarding Israel’s war crimes, after International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor Karim Khan announced he has requested arrest warrants for Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and defence minister Yoav Gallant.

    Tayab Ali, a partner in Bindmans, one of the world’s leading human rights law firms, and a director of the International Centre for Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) published his stark warning on Twitter/X this evening, telling MPs who have supported and enabled Israel’s atrocities against the people of Gaza that it is now too late for them to do much to avoid their guilt and complicity, because ‘the ink of history on your potential complicity is almost dry and you already made your decision’ – and that ICJP will be demanding personal legal accountability for guilty MPs.”


    Meanwhile the UK Esthablishment, including Starmer, move towards banning pro-Palestine marches and actions, or at least heaping so many conditions upon them that they are impossible to stage, at least legally – but 250,000 marched in London at the weekend. If 250,000 people decide to march regardless of any laws designed to stop them, what are the Esthablishment going to do ? Get the police to arrest them ? Call in the army ?

    Meanwhile, in an important but little reported act, the UK Fire Brigades Union has advised its members not to support police actions to remove protestors from rooftops. A little acorn perhaps, but that’s how all great Oaks start out…

    • Valerie
      May 22, 2024 at 17:14

      They are all running scared now eh? Is that why Rish! has called the election, knowing he’s going to lose, so he can slink away into hiding. Maybe Starmer will drop out too. Do us all a big favour. It’s worse than the US fiasco.

  3. Deniz
    May 21, 2024 at 13:42

    It was a duplicitous ruling by the ICC, but I do sense the dam is beginning to burst. My impression is the nonsense narrative regarding the blizzard in the desert, grease monkey mechanics and jalopy helicopters is being categorly rejected by the Global South.

  4. Vera Gottlieb
    May 21, 2024 at 10:04

    Not forgetting that Karim Khan is a BRITISH subject!!! He will go against himself? The ICC needs to be depopulated from judges whose countries, through decades, have contributed to this misery.

    • Valerie
      May 21, 2024 at 11:44

      But then you’ll be left with really revengeful countries. We’ll need some extraterrestrial aliens to be judges.

  5. Guy Fawkes
    May 21, 2024 at 10:02

    Be careful what you ask for.

    Since these “judges” decided to indict Hamas and Hamas leadership, apparently in an act of “fairness” and “balance”, then any indictment of British ministers would of course have to also include, on the same basis of “fairness” and “balance”, a list of serious charges against any an all who have opposed the Minsters. Its only “fair”, according at least to lying capitalist pigs.

  6. Valerie
    May 21, 2024 at 09:41

    Go get them all. The gormless bloody brits.

  7. susan
    May 21, 2024 at 09:07

    Next the ICC needs to go for the Americans: Biden, Blinken and every single politician who voted to send arms to Israel!

    • Dennis
      May 21, 2024 at 16:16

      AMEN !!!

    • LarcoMarco
      May 21, 2024 at 19:11

      Biden vs. Trump debates: one out on bail, the other with an outstanding arrest warrant.

  8. Michael McNulty
    May 21, 2024 at 08:06

    One effect this could have in Britain on someone like David Cameron is it could prevent him being accepted onto the board of many big companies where they’d have paid him big money just to have his title Lord David Cameron on their letterhead. The British upper-class don’t care about human rights – they made their fortunes as feudal barons exploiting serfs at home then maintained them as colonial masters abroad – but they do care about money; and having a director accused of war crimes is not a good look for a company and may lead to their international partners looking elsewhere for business.

    This applies to them all. While it might not mean much with regards to justice it may mean at least they pay in ways that do matter.

  9. anon
    May 21, 2024 at 05:40

    What happened in the Al Aqsa Flood was a well planned and well executed military operation against military targets. The targets chosen were Israeli army bases and paramilitary police stations guarding the Gaza Concentration Camp. Several of these were successfully stormed and overrun, one of them containing 20 tanks.

    The Zionist Regime itself published a list of fatalities in October, with 320 troops and 59 paramilitary police killed. About 200 Hamas fighters were killed on the other side. This was a major battle against heavily armed troops.

    The same list gave a figure of 318 dead civilians. This has been casually inflated to 1,500 at times. The Zionist military response to the operation was undisciplined, disorganised and panic stricken. Most of the dead Israeli civilians were massacred by their own side who plastered the area indiscriminately with tank gunfire, artillery and attack helicopters. The number of civilians killed by Hamas, deliberately or accidentally, was probably very low.

    • Rafael
      May 21, 2024 at 11:54

      100% correct!

    • anaisanesse
      May 21, 2024 at 14:23

      Thank you. Except for the Grayzone, with Max Blumenthal and Aaron Maté, little has been publicised of these figures, while the original lies were repeated ad infinitum.

      • anon
        May 21, 2024 at 22:37

        British MPs are now going in to the atrocity business on their own account. One Zionist Tory MP was kvetching and oy veying in Parliament to anyone who would listen about “Hamas cutting off women’s breasts.”

        I thought they were too busy raping beheaded babies in ovens to do that. Maybe they just needed to knock off for a quick tea break and a spot of breast cutting in the middle of all that fighting. All work and no play, you know.

  10. Human
    May 21, 2024 at 05:37

    The UK conservative (& liberal-democrat) government practices enabling Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza by their very own austerity genocide in the UK which so far has killed well over 300 000 British citizens and reduced life expectancy.


    Was noted, as everything is “noted” by the UN, twice in 2018 and 2023. Made no difference whatsoever, as usual with UN hand-wringing.

    When will the populations realise politicians represent nothing but themselves, money and mass murder? Perhaps then something might change. As, let’s face it, the ICC aren’t gonna arrest anyone.

  11. anon
    May 21, 2024 at 05:25

    Apart from at least 200 spy flights over Gaza supplying targeting information to Israel, at least 33 plane loads of UK bombs and missiles are known to have been supplied to murder Palestinian children. The true figure is probably much higher. There are British troops on the ground in Gaza. We can only guess what they are up to there. Israeli planes have been landing at British bases on Cyprus to refuel and rearm.

    The people who rule over us are absolute filth, the lowest of the low, devoid of any moral value whatsoever. They are bought and paid for whores serving their Zionist masters and would do literally anything for money. You look at the degenerates in Parliament, almost every man jack of them Labour/ Conservative/ Liberal Friends Of Israel/ Friends Of Genocide. They are vermin.

    They have now gone into the atrocity business on their own account.

    • anaisanesse
      May 21, 2024 at 14:25

      Please exclude George Galloway!!

      • anon
        May 21, 2024 at 22:41

        George is worth his weight in gold. I did some work on his election campaign.

  12. mgr
    May 21, 2024 at 03:52

    And, in the US, the Biden administration and all of Congress as well. I mean really, how could they not be complicit in genocide? After all, they are enthusiastically, even rabidly, funding, arming and enabling it, and there is no chance that they will be held accountable under US domestic law. Thus, the ICC. And let us not forget the EU.

    The ICC has the opportunity to help rid the world of a substantial number of high level psychopaths. Now that would be a truly commendable thing, beneficial to the entire world.

  13. Andrew Nichols
    May 21, 2024 at 02:43

    Consider this. NONE of this Brit participation in genocide would be taking place had the Brit Establishment including half the PLP not politically assassinated Corbyn.

    • Valerie
      May 21, 2024 at 11:38

      And i was just thinking what it would be like if all those “peace” people hadn’t been physically assassinated.

    • Eugene Cooney
      May 21, 2024 at 13:37

      Well said ? its so true and a better country for all ?

    • anaisanesse
      May 21, 2024 at 14:28

      Of course let’s go back further, for the British Mandate and the behaviour of the officials installed by the UK for decades before the Zionists came in force to follow their methods.CN had an excellent article quite recently with all the details!!!

    • leslie dagnall
      May 21, 2024 at 16:13

      What about Biden – the US is constantly supporting Israel with arms and billions of dollars – no matter that Israel is committing genocide and Netanyahu is a war criminal. I have written to Biden 3x times on his website – about the billions we are given to Israel and (illegal and immoral ) support we are giving helping to commit genocide. d

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