Israel, US working to prevent ICC arrest warrant against Netanyahu: Israeli media

Ahram Online , Sunday 28 Apr 2024

The United States is part of a last-ditch diplomatic effort to prevent the International Criminal Court from issuing arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials, according to Israeli media reports.

File photo- People gather near bodies lined up for identification after they were unearthed from a mass grave found in the Nasser Medical Complex in the southern Gaza Strip on April 2024. AFP


Israeli Channel 12 reported last week that Israel was increasingly worried by the possibility that the ICC would issue arrest warrants against Netanyahu and other top officials for violations of international law in Gaza.

The report said that the Netanyahu’s office held an emergency discussion on the issue.

The Israeli government is working under the assumption that ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan may this week issue warrants for the arrest of Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and Israeli army Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, according to Haaretz.

The US, which like Israel, is not among the 124 countries that signed the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, is already engaged in the effort to block the arrest warrants, Haaretz said.

The news site Walla pointed out that Netanyahu is “under unusual stress” over the prospect of an arrest warrant against him, noting that he is leading a “nonstop push over the telephone” to prevent an arrest warrant, focused especially on the administration of US President Joe Biden.

Khan said in October the court had jurisdiction over any potential war crimes carried out by Hamas fighters in Israel and by Israelis in the Gaza Strip.

Khan has said his team is actively investigating any crimes committed in Gaza and that those who are in breach of the law will be held accountable.

On Friday, Netanyahu said that any decisions by the ICC would not affect Israel's actions but would set a dangerous precedent.

The case at the ICC is separate from the genocide case launched by South Africa against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) also based in The Hague.

Israel has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians since the beginning of its genocidal war on Gaza in October and has laid much of the Palestinian strip to waste. The assault, now in its seventh month, has displaced most of the blockaded Palestinian territory's 2.3 million people and created a dire humanitarian crisis.

In March, the United Nations food agency said that “famine is imminent” in northern Gaza, where 70 percent of the remaining population is experiencing catastrophic hunger, and that a further escalation of the war could push around half of Gaza’s total population to the brink of starvation.

Israeli forces are "systematically" blocking access to people in Gaza, complicating the task of delivering aid in what has become a lawless war zone, the UN humanitarian agency OCHA said last February.

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