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20 May, 2024 17:00

Proposed ICC warrants against Israeli officials ‘historical disgrace’ – FM

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant have been accused of committing war crimes in Gaza
Proposed ICC warrants against Israeli officials ‘historical disgrace’ – FM

Top Israeli officials have expressed outrage over the International Criminal Court chief prosecutor’s request that warrants be issued for the arrest of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

On Monday, ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan stated that there are “reasonable grounds to believe” that the Israeli leader and his defense minister are guilty of “war crimes and crimes against humanity” due to their complicity in the IDF’s military operation in Gaza. Khan announced that he is officially seeking warrants for the arrest of Netanyahu and Gallant, as well as three Hamas officials.

In response, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz called Khan’s request an “unrestrained direct attack” on the victims of the October 7 Hamas massacre which prompted the IDF’s response.

“While Hamas murderers and rapists commit crimes against humanity, against our brothers and sisters, the [ICC] prosecutor mentions in the same breath the prime minister and defense minister of Israel alongside the vile Nazi-like monsters of Hamas – a historical disgrace that will be remembered forever,” Katz said in a statement which was quoted by the Times of Israel.

Israeli Justice Minister Yariv Levin slammed the move as “one of the greatest moral disgraces in human history,” and suggested that the “attempt to deny the State of Israel the right to self-defense” was an expression of “modern anti-Semitism and hatred of Jews wherever they are.”

Netanyahu, speaking at a meeting of legislators from his Likud Party, called Khan’s proposal a “political outrage” and stated that regardless of the ICC’s decision, Israel will continue its operation in Gaza “until the hostages are released and Hamas is destroyed.”

Earlier on Monday, an unnamed official within Netanyahu’s office also told the Times of Israel that the ICC prosecutor’s move is “baseless blood libel against Israel [that] has crossed a red line in [Khan’s] lawfare efforts against the lone Jewish state and the only democracy in the Middle East.”

Israeli war cabinet minister Benny Gantz, one of Netanyahu’s primary political rivals, has also denounced the ICC prosecutor’s decision, stating that “drawing parallels between the leaders of a democratic country determined to defend itself from despicable terror to leaders of a bloodthirsty terror organization is a deep distortion of justice and blatant moral bankruptcy.”

In a statement to Reuters, senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri also condemned the proposed warrants against the Palestinian group’s leaders, stating that such a move “equates the victim with the executioner” and could encourage Israel to continue its “war of extermination” in Gaza.

While Israel does not officially recognize the ICC’s jurisdiction, the State of Palestine has been a member of the organization since 2015. If the court fulfills Khan’s request and issues warrants for the arrest of Israeli and Hamas officials, any of the organization’s 124 member nations will be obligated to arrest them if they set foot on their territory.

On October 7, 2023, Hamas fighters attacked Israel, killing approximately 1,200 and taking 250 more hostage. In response, Israel launched a large-scale military operation in Gaza. According to the Palestinian enclave’s health ministry, over 35,000 have lost their lives and almost 80,000 others have been wounded so far as a result of the IDF’s airstrikes and ground offensive.