ICC seeks arrest warrants against Netanyahu and Sinwar for 'war crimes'

Ahram Online , Monday 20 May 2024

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is seeking arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity over the 7 October attacks on Israel and the subsequent war in Gaza, according to a statement.



The ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan had told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview on Monday that the court was also seeking warrants for Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and two other top Hamas leaders — Mohammed Diab Ibrahim Al-Masri, the Al-Qassam Brigades' leader and better known as Mohammed Deif, and Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’ political leader.

The warrants against the Israeli politicians mark the first time the ICC has targeted the top leader of a close ally of the United States.

The decision puts Netanyahu in the company of Russian President Vladimir Putin, for whom the ICC issued an arrest warrant over Moscow’s war on Ukraine.

A panel of ICC judges will now consider Khan’s application for arrest warrants.

Khan stated that the charges against Sinwar, Haniyeh, and Al-Masri include “extermination, murder, taking of hostages, rape and sexual assault in detention.”

“The world was shocked on the 7th of October when people were ripped from their bedrooms, from their homes, from the different kibbutzim in Israel,” Khan told Amanpour. “People have suffered enormously,” he added.

The charges against Netanyahu and Gallant include “causing extermination, causing starvation as a method of war, including the denial of humanitarian relief supplies, deliberately targeting civilians in conflict,” Khan said during the interview.

In April, when reports surfaced that the ICC chief prosecutor was considering this course of action, Netanyahu said that any ICC arrest warrants against senior Israeli government and military officials “would be an outrage of historic proportions,” and that Israel “has an independent legal system that rigorously investigates all violations of the law.”

“Nobody is above the law,” Khan said when Amanpour asked him about the comments made by Netanyahu.

If Israel disagrees with the ICC, “they are free, notwithstanding their jurisdiction objections, to raise a challenge before the judges of the court and that’s what I advise them to do,” he added. 

Although Israel and the United States are not members of the ICC, the court claims to have jurisdiction over Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank after Palestinian leaders formally agreed to be bound by its founding principles in 2015.

Who is committing genocide?

Israel is facing accusations of committing genocide against the Palestinians in its war on Gaza at the International Court of Justice in a case filed by South Africa, which was later joined by several countries.

Last week, Egypt announced its intention to officially intervene in support of South Africa’s genocide case against Israel at the ICJ).

The Hamas attacks on targets inside Israel on 7 October killed 1,140, including hundreds of Israeli soldiers.

Meanwhile, Israel has killed or wounded nearly 120,000 Palestinians in Gaza since 7 October - most of whom are women and children.

Relentless Israeli bombardment of Gaza has destroyed more than 50 percent of all residential units in the strip, displacing more than 80 percent of the 2.3 million population of the strip.

An Israeli blockade on food, water, and fuel has left most of the civilian population on the verge of starvation.

Moreover, Israel has destroyed or damaged all hospitals in the strip, leaving the population with no access to medical care.

Israel has resisted all regional and international efforts to stop its war on Gaza, opting to carry out a ground assault against Palestinian Rafah in southern Gaza where 1.3 million displaced Palestinians were seeking refuge from airstrikes and bombardment elsewhere in the strip.

In the occupied West Bank, Israeli troops have killed nearly 500 Palestinians and arrested thousands more since 7 October.

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