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Sunday, June 23, 2024

ICC requests arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Hamas leaders

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The International Criminal Court (ICC) is seeking arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity for the October 7 attacks on Israel and the subsequent war in Gaza, said the court’s chief prosecutor, Karim. Khan said in a statement on Monday.

Khan said the ICC is also seeking court orders for Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as two other senior Hamas leaders: Mohammed Deif, leader of the Al Qassem Brigades, and Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’s political leader.

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CNN reports that the arrest warrants against Israeli politicians mark the first time the ICC has targeted the top leader of a close US ally.

The decision puts Netanyahu in the company of Russian President Vladimir Putin, against whom the ICC issued an arrest warrant over Moscow’s war against Ukraine.

A panel of ICC judges will now consider Mr Khan’s request for arrest warrants. If the judges agree, then countries that are members of the ICC would be required to arrest Netanyahu and the others if they visit their territory.

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Khan said the charges against Messrs. Sinwar, Haniyeh and Al-Masri include “extermination, murder, hostage-taking, rape and sexual assault in detention.”

“The world was shocked on October 7 when people were torn from their bedrooms, from their homes, from the different kibbutzim in Israel,” Khan told CNN, adding that “people have suffered enormously.”

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Meanwhile, charges against Netanyahu and Gallant include “causing extermination, provoking famine as a method of warfare, including the denial of humanitarian aid supplies, and intentionally targeting a civilian population,” Khan said.

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The ICC prosecutor said that the evidence collected and examined by his office shows “reasonable grounds” to believe that Messrs. Netanyahu and Gallant “bear criminal responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed on the territory of the State of Palestine.” .

When reports emerged last month that the ICC’s chief prosecutor was considering this course of action, CNN reported that Netanyahu had said that any ICC arrest warrant against senior Israeli government and military officials “would be an outrage of historic proportions.” ” and that Israel “has an independent legal system that rigorously investigates all violations of the law.”

On Monday, CNN asked Khan about comments made by Netanyahu. “No one is above the law,” he responded.

He said that if Israel does not agree with the ICC, “they are free, despite their objections to jurisdiction, to file a challenge before the court’s judges and that is what I advise them to do.”

Israel and the United States are not members of the ICC. However, the ICC claims jurisdiction over Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank after Palestinian leaders formally agreed to abide by the court’s founding principles in 2015.

About a fortnight ago, a dozen US senators sent a letter to Khan, warning him not to issue international arrest warrants for Netanyahu and other Israeli officials, and threatening him with “severe sanctions” if he did so.

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