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EDITORIAL: International court wallows in moral relativism

The International Criminal Court has taken the dangerous concept of moral relativism to new depths.

On Monday, the prosecutor for the ICC announced he will pursue criminal charges against top Israeli leaders for the Jewish state’s response to the Oct. 7 Hamas terror rampage. Karim Khan also said he would seek charges against Hamas officials for war crimes.

The idea that the two sides are equally responsible for what has unfolded in recent months is an astonishing assertion that should deeply offend any observer with a workable moral compass. Israel seeks to preserve its existence against an enemy that has vowed to kill as many citizens of the Jewish state as possible in an effort to wipe it from the map. Hamas is an autocratic terror organization that purposely endangers its own people and kidnaps innocent men, women and children for leverage.

Even President Joe Biden, who has openly criticized the Israeli military campaign, couldn’t hold his tongue. “Whatever this prosecutor might imply,” the president said, “there is no equivalence — none — between Israel and Hamas.”

From a political standpoint, the move by Mr. Khan is largely symbolic. Neither Israel nor the United States recognizes the authority of the court, which came into existence in 2002 and is based in The Hague. The prosecutor must still convince the court’s judges to approve his request for warrants, which could take months.

But from a practical standpoint, the decision emboldens Hamas, which benefits from international intimidation of Israel. The move “set back the odds of ending the conflict more quickly,” one international law expert told The Wall Street Journal.

A review of the charges highlights Mr. Khan’s twisted perspective.

One allegation claims Israel employs “starvation of civilians as a method of warfare.” Yet the nation has allowed thousands of shipments of supplies into Gaza since the military campaign began last year. The deliveries are often looted and observers have accused Hamas of diverting and stealing aid.

Another allegation accuses Israel of “intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population.” But it was Hamas terrorists who did precisely that during the deadly Oct. 7 incursion. Israel, meanwhile, repeatedly warns civilians to evacuate while prosecuting a response against an enemy that purposely hides military targets near schools and other populated areas.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said this week that the administration will work with Congress to respond to the ICC action, which could and should include sanctions against the court for overstepping its authority. That will require cooperation from Mr. Biden and Senate Democrats. Will they again put appeasing their party’s hard-left flank above what’s just? We’ll soon find out.

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