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War Crimes Prosecutor Seeks Arrest of Israeli, Hamas Leaders, Including Netanyahu

ICC’s Chief Prosecutor alleged that Netanyahu, alongside three others are accountable for war and humanity crimes in Gaza and Israel.

Benjamin Netanyahu

On Monday, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Karim Khan announced plans to request arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas leaders which stems from their involvement in the seven-month conflict between Israel and Hamas.  

Karim Khan stated his belief that Netanyahu, along with his defense minister Yoav Gallant, and three Hamas leaders, Yehia Sinwar, Mohammed Deif, and Ismail Haniyeh are accountable for war crimes and humanity crimes in both the Gaza Strip and Israel.

The pre-trial panel, comprising three judges, must be approached by the prosecutor to request warrants. Typically, this panel takes around two months to assess the evidence and decide on the viability of proceeding with the case.

Israel, not being a member of the court, means that even if arrest warrants are issued, Netanyahu and Gallant are not immediately subject to prosecution. However, Khan’s statement further isolates Israel as it continues its conflict, and the prospect of arrest could hinder the ability of Israeli leaders to travel internationally.

Sinwar and Deif are suspected to be hiding in Gaza, where Israel is actively pursuing them, Haniyeh, the paramount leader of the Islamic militant faction, resides in Qatar and regularly travels throughout the region. There was no instant response from both sides.

Israel initiated its military campaign following a cross-border attack by Hamas on October 7, which resulted in the deaths of approximately 1,200 individuals, predominantly civilians, and the abduction of 250 others. The Gaza health officials’ estimated that the Israeli offensive has led to the deaths of over 35,000 Palestinians, with at least half being women and children. 

According to U.N officials, the offensive has sparked a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, with roughly 80% of the population displaced and hundreds of thousands facing starvation.

Khan spoke about Israeli actions saying “the effects of the use of starvation as a method of warfare, together with other attacks and collective punishment against the civilian population of Gaza are acute, visible and widely known. They include malnutrition, dehydration, profound suffering and an increasing number of deaths among the Palestinian population, including babies, other children, and women.”

Throughout the conflict, the United Nations and various aid agencies have consistently accused Israel of obstructing aid shipments. 

Israel refutes these claims, asserting that there are no impediments to aid entering Gaza and accusing the United Nations of mismanagement in aid distribution. The U.N. contends that aid workers have faced Israeli gunfire on multiple occasions and emphasizes that ongoing hostilities and a security vacuum have hampered delivery efforts.

Further speaking Khan said “the devastating scenes of these attacks and the profound impact of the unconscionable crimes charged in the applications filed today. Speaking with survivors, I heard how the love within a family, the deepest bonds between a parent and a child, were contorted to inflict unfathomable pain through calculated cruelty and extreme callousness. These acts demand accountability.”

Israel initially garnered international backing for its military campaign, but as the war persists and casualties mount, it has encountered escalating criticism from the global community.

Israel has denied the allegations from the case it is currently facing in the International Court of Justice filed by South Africa, accusing it of genocide.

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