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11 May, 2024 01:07

South American country seeks ICC arrest warrant for Netanyahu

Colombia’s president has slammed the Gaza war as a “genocide”
South American country seeks ICC arrest warrant for Netanyahu

Colombian President Gustavo Petro has urged the International Criminal Court and the UN Security Council to take action to prevent a “genocide” of the Palestinian people in the Gazan city of Rafah.

Israel’s war cabinet approved a “measured expansion” of the military operation in Rafah on Friday, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledging to push ahead with the offensive despite the US threats to curtail military aid.

“Netanyahu will not stop the genocide,” Petro wrote on X (formerly Twitter) on Friday, reacting to the Israeli leader’s declaration. “That implies an international arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court.”

The Colombian leader went on to suggest that the UN Security Council should “consider the establishment of a peacekeeping force in the territory of Gaza.”

In a Labor Day speech in Bogota earlier this month, Petro vowed to cut diplomatic relations with Israel’s “genocidal” leadership, expressing solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza whose “children have died, dismembered by bombs.”

Rafah in southern Gaza is the territory's last major population center still not under Israeli control. Hundreds of thousands of internally displaced Palestinians have taken shelter there in recent months. Earlier this week, Israel bombarded the city and sent troops and dozens of tanks into the eastern districts in what it described as a “limited” operation.

Several media outlets reported last month that the ICC could charge Netanyahu and several other top-ranking officials with war crimes over the war in Gaza.

According to news website Axios, Netanyahu has asked US President Joe Biden l to stop the ICC from pursuing him, along with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and IDF chief of staff Herzi Halevi.

Both Republican and Democratic US representatives have warned the ICC of “consequences” if it pursues Israeli officials, and a group of Republican lawmakers is now reportedly devising sanctions against the court.

Israel launched a military operation against Hamas in Gaza following the militant group’s deadly October 7 incursion, which claimed over 1,200 lives, while hundreds of Israelis were taken hostage.

According to the Hamas-controlled health authorities, the ensuing operation by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has resulted in the deaths of 35,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians. 

In January, the United Nations International Court of Justice (ICJ) said in a ruling that it was “plausible” that the Israeli military has committed genocide in the densely populated Palestinian enclave.