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29 Apr, 2024 18:01

ICC could issue arrest warrant for Netanyahu this week – NBC

The Israeli prime minister has promised that he “will not bow” to attempts to drag him before a tribunal in The Hague
ICC could issue arrest warrant for Netanyahu this week – NBC

The International Criminal Court (ICC) could charge Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his top officials with war crimes and issue warrants for their arrest as early as this week, NBC News reported on Monday.

Citing an Israeli official, the American network claimed that warrants could be issued for Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and unnamed senior military officers. The official said that “Israel is working through diplomatic channels to try to stop the warrants being issued,” in NBC’s words.

According to Israeli media, army chief Herzl Halevi is among the military officials facing charges.

The ICC did not confirm or deny the report, telling NBC that it “has an ongoing independent investigation in relation to the situation in the State of Palestine” and has “no further comment to make at this stage.”

The ICC’s investigation was launched in 2021, and concerns alleged war crimes by the Israeli military and Palestinian militant groups in the West Bank and Gaza since 2014, when Israel fought a month-long war against Hamas. 

The probe is separate to South Africa’s genocide case against Israel, which is currently being heard by the International Court of Juctice (ICJ). Pretoria alleges that Israeli forces have committed genocide and crimes against humanity during their ongoing operation against Hamas in Gaza.

The ICC and ICJ are both based in the Dutch city of The Hague. Under the 2002 Rome Statute, the ICC is tasked with prosecuting individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the ‘crime of aggression’. The ICJ on the other hand is an organ of the UN tasked with settling disputes between nations. 

Should the ICC issue a warrant for Netanyahu’s arrest, the Israeli PM is unlikely to be hauled to The Hague to face trial. Israel – like the US, Russia, and China – is not a party to the Rome Statute and does not recognize the court’s jurisdiction. A warrant could, however, place Netanyahu at risk of arrest if he were to travel to any of the 124 countries that recognize the court.

After news of a potential war crimes charge emerged last week, Netanyahu declared on Friday that Israel “will never accept any attempt by the ICC to undermine its inherent right of self-defense.”

“The threat to seize the soldiers and officials of the Middle East’s only democracy and the world’s only Jewish state is outrageous. We will not bow to it,” he wrote on X (formerly Twitter). 

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