ICC prosecutor seeks arrest warrants for Netanyahu, Hamas officials

ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan seeks arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for alleged war crimes.

ICC prosecutor Karim Khan
International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan, centre [Screenshot/Youtube]

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has applied for arrest warrants against top Israeli and Hamas leaders for alleged war crimes.

ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan said on Monday that his office had applied for arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders for alleged crimes committed during the Hamas-led October 7 attack on southern Israel and Israel’s subsequent war on Gaza.

Khan announced his office had “reasonable grounds” to believe that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant bear “criminal responsibility” for “war crimes and crimes against humanity”.

Khan also applied for arrest warrants for three Hamas leaders – Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Diab Ibrahim al-Masri (also known as Deif), and Ismail Haniyeh – for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Khan said his team has found evidence that Israel has “intentionally and systematically deprived the civilian population in all parts of Gaza of objects indispensable to human survival”.

“This took place alongside other attacks on civilians, including those queuing for food; obstruction of aid delivery by humanitarian agencies; and attacks on and killing of aid workers, which forced many agencies to cease or limit their operations in Gaza,” he said.

Khan added that Israel’s siege of the Gaza Strip by closing the border crossings and restricting the transfer of food, water and medical supplies was part of an Israeli plan to use starvation as a “method of war”.

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(Al Jazeera)

Of the crimes allegedly perpetrated by Hamas, Khan said his office had “reasonable grounds to believe” that Sinwar, Deif and Haniyeh were “criminally responsible for the killing of hundreds of Israeli civilians” during the October 7 attacks.

Hamas’s attacks on southern Israel “demands accountability”, he said, adding that there were also “reasonable grounds” to believe the captives taken by the group and held in Gaza have been kept in “inhumane conditions and that some have been subject to sexual violence, including rape, while being held in captivity”.

Hamas denounced the application for arrest warrants for its leaders and Israeli officials, which it said “equates the victim with the executioner”.

In a statement, the group said it has the right to said it has the right to resist Israeli occupation, including “armed resistance.”

Israel is not a member of the ICC and does not recognise its jurisdiction. Several Israeli ministers denounced Khan’s announcement.

War cabinet minister Benny Gantz said the move was a “crime of historic proportion”.

“Drawing parallels between the leaders of a democratic country determined to defend itself from despicable terror to leaders of a blood-thirsty terror organisation is a deep distortion of justice and blatant moral bankruptcy,” Gantz said.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid called the decision a “disaster”. Far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said the decision was a “show of hypocrisy and Jew hatred”.

“Arrest warrants against them are arrest warrants against us all,” he said.

Last month, Netanyahu said it would be a “scandal on a historic scale” if the ICC issued arrest warrants for senior government officials.

“I want to make one thing clear: no decision, neither in The Hague nor anywhere else, will harm our determination to achieve all the goals of the war – the release of all our hostages, a complete victory over Hamas and a promise that Gaza will no longer pose a threat to Israel,” he said.

At least 35,562 people have been killed in Israel’s war on Gaza, according to Palestinian health authorities, and aid agencies have also warned of widespread hunger and dire shortages of fuel and medical supplies.

At least 1,139 people were killed in the Hamas-led attack on Israel, according to an Al Jazeera tally based on Israeli statistics, and and around 250 others were taken hostage.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies