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ICC Prosecutor Seeks Arrest Warrants For Israeli PM Netanyahu, Hamas Leaders Over War Crimes in Gaza

The prosecutor requested the warrants from a pre-trial panel of three judges, who take on average two months to consider the evidence and determine if the proceedings can move forward.

The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim Khan, has applied for arrest warrants against Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the leader of Hamas, Yahya Sinwar for the infamous October 7 attack and subsequent war crimes in Gaza.

“On the basis of evidence collected and examined by my Office, I have reasonable grounds to believe that Yahya SINWAR (Head of the Islamic Resistance Movement (“Hamas”) in the Gaza Strip), Benjamin NETANYAHU, the Prime Minister of Israel, bear criminal responsibility for the following war crimes and crimes against humanity committed on the territory of the State of Palestine (in the Gaza strip), ” Khan said in a statement Monday.

Khan said the ICC is also seeking warrants for Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as two other top Hamas leaders — Mohammed Diab Ibrahim al-Masri, the Commander-in-Chief of the military wing of Hamas, known as the Al-Qassam Brigades, and Ismail Haniyeh, Head of Hamas Political Bureau.

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The prosecutor requested the warrants from a pre-trial panel of three judges, who take on average two months to consider the evidence and determine if the proceedings can move forward.

“In presenting these applications for arrest warrants, my Office is acting pursuant to its mandate under the Rome Statute. On 5 February 2021, Pre-Trial Chamber I decided that the Court can exercise its criminal jurisdiction in the Situation in the State of Palestine and that the territorial scope of this jurisdiction extends to Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Today we once again underline that international law and the laws of armed conflict apply to all,” Khan said.

However, Israel is not a member of the ICC, and even if the arrest warrants are granted, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Defense Minister Yoav Gallant may not face any immediate prosecution.

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But Khan’s announcement, according to the Associated Press, deepens Israel’s isolation as it presses ahead with its war, and the threat of arrest could make it difficult for the Israeli leaders to travel abroad.

The warrants against the Israeli politicians mark the first time the ICC has targeted the top leader of a close ally of the United States, CNN reported. “The decision puts Netanyahu in the company of the Russian President Vladimir Putin, for whom the ICC issued an arrest warrant over Moscow’s war on Ukraine.”

The ICC’s latest request comes among a number of interventions from other states like South Africa, that have sought to hold leaders in the war responsible, (especially Israel) as the devastation in Gaza continues.


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