ICC Seeks Arrest Warrants For Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
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JERUSALEM — The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced on Monday his intention to seek arrest warrants for key Israeli and Hamas leaders, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in relation to alleged war crimes during the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Karim Khan, the ICC’s chief prosecutor, according to the Associated Press stated that he holds Netanyahu, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and three Hamas leaders — Yehia Sinwar, Mohammed Deif, and Ismail Haniyeh — accountable for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the Gaza Strip and Israel.

Legal Proceedings

The process requires Khan to present his case to a pre-trial panel of three judges, who typically take around two months to review the evidence and decide if the proceedings can advance.

Political and Legal Implications

Israel is not a member of the ICC, meaning even if arrest warrants are issued, Netanyahu and Gallant are not at immediate risk of prosecution. However, this move further isolates Israel on the international stage and could complicate travel for its leaders.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz condemned the prosecutor’s decision, calling it “a historic disgrace that will be remembered forever.” He announced plans to form a special committee to counteract any actions resulting from the warrants and vowed to collaborate with global leaders to prevent their enforcement.

Hamas Leaders’ Status

Sinwar and Deif are believed to be hiding in Gaza, while Haniyeh, the top leader of Hamas, resides in Qatar and travels frequently within the region.

Israeli Responses

Benny Gantz, a former military chief and current member of Israel’s War Cabinet, criticized Khan’s announcement, asserting that Israel conducts its military operations under stringent moral codes and has a robust internal judiciary capable of self-investigation.

“The State of Israel is engaged in one of the most justified wars in modern history following a heinous massacre by Hamas on October 7,” Gantz said. “The prosecutor’s decision to seek arrest warrants is an egregious act that will be remembered for generations.”

War Background

Israel’s military campaign began in response to a Hamas cross-border attack on October 7, which killed approximately 1,200 people, mainly civilians, and resulted in 250 hostages. The subsequent Israeli offensive has resulted in over 35,000 Palestinian deaths, including many women and children, according to Gaza health officials. The offensive has also created a severe humanitarian crisis, displacing 80% of Gaza’s population and pushing hundreds of thousands to the brink of starvation, according to U.N. officials.

International Criticism and Humanitarian Concerns

Karim Khan accused Israel of using starvation as a method of warfare, resulting in widespread suffering and increasing deaths among Gaza’s civilian population. The United Nations and other aid agencies have accused Israel of obstructing aid deliveries, claims that Israel denies, stating it places no restrictions on aid entering Gaza and blames the U.N. for failing to distribute it effectively.

Hamas Actions

Regarding the Hamas attack on October 7, Khan recounted his December visit to the region, where he witnessed the aftermath of the attacks and spoke with survivors about the profound impact of the violence.

Broader Context

Israel has faced mounting criticism as the conflict has prolonged, and casualties have risen. Additionally, Israel is contending with a genocide accusation filed by South Africa at the International Court of Justice, which Israel denies.

Khan’s request for arrest warrants in the Israel-Gaza conflict comes 14 months after the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for war crimes related to the abduction of children from Ukraine.