ICC seeks arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders
05/22/2024 // News Editors // Views

On Monday, the International Criminal Court announced it was seeking arrest warrants for senior Israeli and Hamas leaders for “war crimes and crimes against humanity” related to the October 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel and the relentless Israeli bombing campaign and starvation blockade on Gaza that has followed.

(Article by Dave DeCamp republished from News.Antiwar.com)

Karim Khan, the ICC’s chief prosecutor, said his office was seeking warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. In a statement, Khan alleged the Israeli leaders were responsible for the following crimes:

  • Starvation of civilians as a method of warfare, as a war crime
  • Wilfully causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or health contrary, or cruel treatment as a war crime
  • Wilful killing, or Murder as a war crime
  • Intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population as a war crime
  • Extermination and/or murder, including in the context of deaths caused by starvation, as a crime against humanity
  • Persecution as a crime against humanity
  • Other inhumane acts as crimes against humanity

“We submit that the crimes against humanity charged were committed as part of a widespread and systematic attack against the Palestinian civilian population pursuant to State policy. These crimes, in our assessment, continue to this day,” Khan said.

The action by The Hague-based court came despite pressure from the US not to pursue Israeli officials, including a letter from 12 Republican senators that threatened sanctions or other action in response. The Biden administration also made its opposition known to the ICC’s plans despite supporting the court against Russian President Vladimir Putin. In a statement responding to the ICC, President Biden called its action against Israel “outrageous.”

“Let me be clear: whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence — none — between Israel and Hamas. We will always stand with Israel against threats to its security,” Biden said.

The US could take extreme action against the ICC if it successfully arrests an Israeli official, although the court does not have its own police force. In 2002, then-President George W. Bush signed a bill into law nicknamed “The Hague Invasion Act” that allows the US to use “all means necessary and appropriate to bring about the release of any US or allied personnel being detained or imprisoned by, on behalf of, or at the request of the” ICC.

The ICC’s charges against Netanyahu and Gallant implicate President Biden and other US officials since they have provided so much military support and diplomatic cover for the Israeli campaign in Gaza. The US has also opposed South Africa’s genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and rejected the ICJ’s ruling that it’s “plausible” Israel is committing genocide in Israel.

In his response to the ICC, Netanyahu accused Khan of being antisemitic, saying the prosecutor “takes his place among the great antisemites in modern times.” Netanyahu said that he “rejected with disgust the prosecutor’s comparison between democratic Israel and the mass murderers of Hamas. This is a complete distortion of reality. This is exactly what the new antisemitism looks like.”

According to the latest numbers from Gaza’s Health Ministry, at least 35,562 Palestinians have been killed by Israel since October 7, a total that doesn’t include thousands who are missing and presumed dead under the rubble. The Palestinian Red Crescent estimates that over 15,000 children have been killed.

Khan is also seeking warrants for three Hamas leaders: Hamas’s leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, the head of Hamas’s military wing, Mohammed Diab Ibrahim Al-Masri (also known as Deif), and the leader of Hamas’s political bureau based in Doha, Ismail Haniyeh. In his statement, Khan alleged the Hamas leaders were responsible for the “killing of hundreds of Israeli civilians” and the following crimes:

  • Extermination as a crime against humanity,
  • Murder as a crime against humanity, and as a war crime
  • Taking hostages as a war crime
  • Rape and other acts of sexual violence as crimes against humanity, and also as war crimes in the context of captivity
  • Torture as a crime against humanity, and also as a war crime in the context of captivity
  • Other inhumane acts as a crime against humanity, in the context of captivity
  • Cruel treatment as a war crime in the context of captivity
  • Outrages upon personal dignity as a war crime in the context of captivity

A total of 1,139 people were killed during Hamas’s attack on southern Israel, including 695 Israeli civilians, including 36 children, as well as 373 security forces and 71 foreigners. Some of the Israeli civilians were killed by the Israeli military in its response to the Hamas attack, but it’s unclear how many.

Read more at: News.Antiwar.com

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