ICC seeks arrest warrants of Netanyahu and Hamas leaders for ‘war crimes’

The prosecutor in the International Criminal Court announced on Monday that he has filed for arrest warrants for Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, along with the leaders of Palestinian militant group Hamas, accusing them of committing war crimes during the 2014 conflict in Gaza.

The prosecutor, Karim Khan, presented evidence at a press conference that he claims suggests that Netanyahu and Gallant “bear criminal responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the State of Palestine.” 

These crimes allegedly include “starvation of civilians as a method of warfare” and “intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population.” 

Khan also requested arrest warrants for Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, its top political leader Ismail Haniyeh and its military commander Mohammed Dief.

 

He claimed that the three are criminally responsible for “extermination” and “murder as a crime against humanity,” taking hostages as a war crime and rape and other acts of sexual violence. 

“During my mission in Kibbutz Be’eri and Kibbutz Kfar Aza, as well as at the site of Supernova Music Festival in Re’im, I saw the impact of the unconscionable crimes charged in the applications filed today,” Khan said.

“Speaking with survivors, I heard how the love of a family, the deepest bonds between a parent and a child, were contorted to inflict unfathomable pain through calculated cruelty and extreme callousness,” he added. “These acts demand accountability.” 

 

Khan also said his team has found “reasonable grounds to believe that hostages taken from Israel have been kept in inhumane conditions, and that some have been subject to sexual violence, including rape, while being held in captivity.” 

Israeli war cabinet member and opposition leader Benny Gantz criticized the ICC’s announcement on Monday, saying “the prosecutor’s position to apply for arrest warrants is in itself a crime of historic proportion to be remembered for generations.” 

“While Israel fights with one of the strictest moral codes in history, while complying with international law and boasting a robust independent judiciary – drawing parallels of the leaders of a democratic country determined to defend itself from despicable terror to leaders of a blood-thirsty terror organization is a deep distortion of justice and blatant moral bankruptcy,” he added. 

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz called the move a “historic disgrace that will be remembered forever,” according to The Associated Press.

Khan said in his statement, “The independent judges of the International Criminal Court are the sole arbiters as to whether the necessary standard for the issuance of warrants of arrest has been met. 

“Should they grant my applications and issue the requested warrants,” he continued. “I will then work closely with the Registrar in all efforts to apprehend the named individuals.”

Israel and the U.S. are not members of the ICC and do not recognize its jurisdiction. The Palestinian Authority, meanwhile, became a member in 2015.

“The move by the ICC prosecutor turns right and wrong on its head by equating the self-defense of the democratic Jewish state – as necessarily conducted by its prime minister and defense minister – with the genocidal ambitions of Palestinian terrorists,” Anne Bayefsky, the director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust and president of Human Rights Voices, told .

“Second, it attempts to criminalize the self-determination of the Jewish people. Third, it is a direct result of the policy of the Biden administration, that has systematically undermined Israel’s war of survival at every step, even questioning its legality, and effectively gave a wink-wink to the prosecutor to move forward,” she added. But most importantly for the American Congress, it directly invokes American law, which calls for immediate, direct actions to defend Israel and sanction the court and its actors for upending law and justice.

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