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ICC prosecutor seeks arrest warrants for Netanyahu and Hamas leader Sinwar

ICC prosecutor seeks arrest warrants for Netanyahu and Hamas leader Sinwar


The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor said Monday he would seek arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, as well as other senior Israeli and Palestinian figures who have played key roles in the Gaza war.

Prosecutor Karim AA Khan said in a STATEMENT that he was filing applications for arrest warrants before Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court on the Situation in the State of Palestine”.

While the court is likely have a hard time prosecuting Israeli leaders, arrest warrants it could make it difficult for them to travel abroad, and a trial in court could also be deeply embarrassing for the Israeli government.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant also faces possible arrest as pressure continues on Israel at home and abroad to halt its military offensive in Gaza and secure a ceasefire and hostage-release deal with Hamas.

Khan said both Netanyahu and Gallant bear criminal responsibility for a list of “war crimes,” including the deaths of civilians from starvation; intentionally “causing great suffering or serious harm”; intentional homicide; and deliberately directing attacks against a civilian population.

“We submit that the alleged crimes against humanity were committed as part of a widespread and systematic attack against the Palestinian civilian population in accordance with state policy. These crimes, in our estimation, continue to this day,” Khan wrote in the statement. of the ICC, adding that his office has extensive evidence including videos and interviews with survivors.

Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar
Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar.Ali Jadallah / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images file

Mohammed Diab Ibrahim Al-Masri, commander-in-chief of Hamas' military wing, and Ismail Haniyeh, head of Hamas' political bureau, both face ICC arrest warrants for their roles in the October 7 attacks.

“We submit that the crimes against humanity charged were part of a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population of Israel by Hamas and other armed groups in accordance with organizational policies. Some of these crimes, in our estimation, continue today, ” Khan wrote.

Israeli leadership had been working through diplomatic channels to prevent the ICC orders from being issued, an Israeli official told NBC News in April.

Netanyahu and Gallant did not immediately appear to comment on Monday's development.

Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz condemned the ICC announcement.

“Putting the leaders of a country that went into battle to protect its citizens on the same footing as bloodthirsty terrorists is moral blindness and a violation of its duty and ability to protect its citizens,” he said in a post on X.

The Forum of Families of Hostages and Missing Persons, which represents the families of those taken hostage by Hamas during the October 7 attacks, said in a statement that it was “uncomfortable with the equivalence created between the Israeli leadership and Hamas terrorists.”

In a statement, Hamas separately denounced “the efforts of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to equate the victim with the executioner by issuing arrest warrants against a number of Palestinian resistance leaders.”

Seasoned ICC observers had expected the court to issue orders against not only Israeli officials but also Hamas leaders, Brian Finucane, an expert on international law, said in a telephone interview with NBC News on April 29, before issuing arrest warrants.

The ICC based in The Hague, Netherlands can indict individuals for war crimes and other related charges. It is separate from the International Court of Justice, which hears cases between states and is currently investigating whether Israel committed acts of genocide in Gaza.

The ICC launched an investigation three years ago into possible war crimes committed by Israeli and Palestinian militants dating back to the 2014 Israel-Hamas war.

At the time, State Department spokesman Ned Price said the US had serious concerns about the inquiry, which began after the Palestinians, who joined the court in 2015, asked the ICC to look into Israeli actions during the year's war. 2014 in the Gaza Strip. as well as the construction of settlements in the occupied West Bank and annexed East Jerusalem. The international community widely considers the settlements to be illegal under international law.

It is unclear when the ICC began its investigation into aspects of the Israeli offensive in Gaza. which began after Hamas' October 7 attack on the country, left 1,200 dead and about 250 people hostage. Health officials in Gaza say there are more than 35,000 have since died.

Khan visited the region in December and said his investigation is moving forward with pace, rigour, determination and insistence that we act not on emotion but on hard evidence.

Human rights advocates and experts in the region hailed Monday's development as they expressed hope for “justice” with Craig Mokhiber, who resigned at the end of October as director of the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. of man in New York, after accusing the UN of failing to prevent the “genocide” of Palestinian civilians, among them.

The State of Israel is on trial at the ICJ, its leaders are the subject of an indictment request at the ICC, its allies are the subject of cases in national courts, independent human rights mechanisms have condemned them, and millions are on the streets demanded justice, he said in a POST at X on Monday. “Justice is coming”.

Finucane, who is also a non-resident senior fellow at the Reiss Center for Law and Security at NYU Law School, noted in his interview with NBC News that Israel, like the US, does not recognize the courts' jurisdiction.

He said no country was a party to the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC. But he added that the orders would put Israeli officials at risk of arrest in other countries, including much of Europe.

As a practical matter, ICC arrest warrants can function like a travel ban, said Finucane, who served as a legal adviser in the State Department's Office of Legal Counsel during the Obama and Trump administrations. Parties to the Rome Statute that become members of the International Criminal Court have obligations to act on arrest warrants, he added.

The warrants also put Netanyahu in a similar position on the international stage as Russian President Vladimir Putin, after the ICC issued an arrest warrant for him in March 2023, accusing him of being responsible for war crimes in Ukraine.

Finucane said at the time, President Joe Biden welcomed that announcement and said he thought it was justified.

He added that he hoped the ICC ruling would provide further reason for the US government to think long and hard about its continued unconditional military support for Israel.

This conflict in Gaza has been catastrophic not only for the people of Israel, Palestine, but also for the wider region, he said.




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