ICC Seeks Arrest Warrants For Israeli And Hamas Leaders Over Alleged War Crimes In Gaza

ICC Seeks Arrest Warrants For Israeli And Hamas Leaders Over Alleged War Crimes In Gaza

By Spy Uganda Correspondent

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”.

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

Following the announcement, Netanyahu said the ICC decision was a disgrace and an attack on Israel.

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“I reject with disgust the comparison of the prosecutor in The Hague between democratic Israel and the mass murderers of Hamas,” Netanyahu said.

“With what audacity do you compare Hamas that murdered, burned, butchered, decapitated, raped and kidnapped our brothers and sisters, and the [Israeli army] soldiers fighting a just war?”

Also commenting on the development, Israeli President Isaac Herzog said that “any attempt to draw parallels between these atrocious terrorists and a democratically elected government of Israel – working to fulfil its duty to defend and protect its citizens entirely in adherence to the principles of international law – is outrageous and cannot be accepted by anyone.”

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Meanwhile, Hamas denounced the ICC prosecutor’s decision to seek arrest warrants against its leaders, accusing Karim Khan of trying to “equate the victim with the executioner”.

The group said it demanded the cancellation of the request, adding that Khan’s application for arrest warrants against Netanyahu and Gallant had come “seven months too late”.

The Government Media Office in Gaza has welcomed the ICC’s decision to seek arrest warrants for Israeli leaders, and also denounced the decision to apply for warrants for Hamas leaders.

“We appreciate the decision of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to issue arrest warrants for two Zionist war criminals”, reads a statement from the office

“We see the issuance of these memorandums as a legal step in the right direction, despite the fact that they came late,” the statement added.

The office also said it “deplores the fact that this step was accompanied by the issuance of similar decisions against some of the leaders of our people”, referring to requests for arrest warrants against several Hamas officials.

Additionally, US President Joe Biden called the application for an arrest warrant for Netanyahu and Gallant “outrageous”.

“Let me be clear: Whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence – none – between Israel and Hamas,” he said.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch (HRW) welcomed the ICC’s decision.

“Victims of serious abuses in Israel and Palestine have faced a wall of impunity for decades. This principled first step by the prosecutor opens the door to those responsible for the atrocities committed in recent months to answer for their actions at a fair trial,” HRW said.

“ICC member countries should stand ready to resolutely protect the ICC’s independence as hostile pressure is likely to increase while the ICC judges consider [Prosecutor Karim] Khan’s request.” HRW added.

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