ICC Seeks Arrest Warrants Against Netanyahu, Hamas Leaders

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ICC Seeks Arrest Warrants Against Netanyahu, Hamas Leaders

| Updated: May 21, 2024 12:25

US President Joe Biden has called the ICC prosecutor’s move ‘outrageous’

In a significant development, the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor has sought arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and leaders of Hamas for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The prosecutor, Karim Khan, in a statement said he was applying for arrest warrants for Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif and Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas because he has “reasonable grounds to believe” that they were responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity, which included the “killing of hundreds of Israeli civilians” in the October 7 attack led by Hamas in Israel, and the taking of 245 hostages.

The prosecutor accused Hamas of murder, extermination, hostage-taking and acts of sexual violence.

Khan has also requested the ICC for arrest warrants for Netanyahu and Israel’s defence minister Yoav Gallant. He has said he believed they were responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity, including starvation of civilians and “intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population”.

‘Court has jurisdiction’

Though Israel has not signed the Rome Statute, a treaty that created the International Criminal Court, Khan has said crimes committed by Israel in Gaza and Hamas in Israel fall under the court’s jurisdiction.

An arrest warrant could lead to a lengthy trial for Netanyahu and Hamas leaders. If the court finds sufficient evidence against Israel and Hamas for war crimes, it will summon them to appear or can issue an arrest warrant, asking the member countries to make the arrest and transfer the suspects to the ICC.

As a reaction, Israeli PM Netanyahu said Karim Khan was one of the “great anti-semites in modern times”. He said Khan’s decision to seek arrest warrants against him and the defence minister was “callously pouring gasoline on the fires of antisemitism that are raging around the world”.

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden has called the ICC prosecutor’s move “outrageous.” “Let me be clear: whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence – none – between Israel and Hamas,” Biden wrote. “We will always stand with Israel against threats to its security.”

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