News Brief

Israeli And Hamas Leaders Face ICC Arrest Warrants Over Gaza War; US Dismisses 'Outrageous' Move: All You Need To Know

Kuldeep Negi

May 21, 2024, 11:16 AM | Updated 11:16 AM IST

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israel rejected on Monday (20 May) the International Criminal Court's (ICC) moves to arrest its leaders for war crimes in the Gaza Strip.

The ICC's prosecutor, Karim Khan, has applied for arrest warrants for top Israeli and Hamas leaders, prompting strong reactions from both sides.

Israel condemned the demand targeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, labeling it a "historical disgrace."

Netanyahu expressed his rejection, criticising the prosecutor's comparison between Israel and the mass murderers of Hamas.

Khan is seeking warrants against Israeli leaders for alleged crimes including "wilful killing," "extermination and/or murder," and "starvation," citing crimes against humanity during the war initiated by Hamas's 7 October attacks.

Hamas also condemned the move, with Khan stating that leaders including Qatar-based Ismail Haniyeh and Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar bear criminal responsibility for actions during the 7 October attack.

These actions include "taking hostages," "rape and other acts of sexual violence," and "torture."

Khan emphasised that international law and the laws of armed conflict apply to everyone, stating that no one can act with impunity.

If granted by ICC judges, the warrants would technically make it obligatory on any of the 124 ICC member states to arrest Netanyahu and the others if they traveled there, although the court lacks a mechanism to enforce its warrants.

The United States also rejected the ICC's move, with President Joe Biden calling it "outrageous" and stating that "there is no equivalence -- none -- between Israel and Hamas."

Biden also dismissed accusations in a separate tribunal, the UN International Court of Justice, where South Africa has alleged that Israel's war in Gaza is genocidal, asserting that "what's happening is not genocide."

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken remarked that the ICC's action "could jeopardize" efforts for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Also Read: After Death Of Ebrahim Raisi In Helicopter Crash, Iran To Hold Presidential Elections On 28 June

Kuldeep is Senior Editor (Newsroom) at Swarajya. He tweets at @kaydnegi.

Get Swarajya in your inbox.