HomeForeignIsraeli President Slams Plan To Arrest Him Over Gaza War, Biden Defends...

Israeli President Slams Plan To Arrest Him Over Gaza War, Biden Defends Him

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has angrily condemned the International Criminal Court, ICC’s prosecutor for seeking arrest warrants for him alongside Hamas’s leaders over alleged war crimes in the Gaza conflict.

On Monday, Mr Biden said there was “no equivalence – none – between Israel and Hamas.

“But let me be clear, contrary to allegations against Israel made by the International Court of Justice, what’s happening is not genocide.”

Mr Netanyahu said he rejected with disgust that “democratic Israel” had been compared with what he called “mass murderers”.

Mr Netanyahu’s comments have been echoed by US President Joe Biden, who said there was no equivalence between Israel and Hamas.

The chief ICC prosecutor, Karim Khan, said there were reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Netanyahu and his Defence Minister Yoav Gallant bore criminal responsibility for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza.

The ICC is also seeking a warrant for Hamas’s leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, for war crimes.

Israel and the US, its key ally, are not members of the ICC, which was set up in 2002.

Israel’s continuing offensive in the Gaza Strip has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes

The accusations against the Israeli and Hamas leaders stem from the events of 7 October, when waves of Hamas gunmen attacked Israel, killing about 1,200 people and taking 252 others back to Gaza as hostages. The attack triggered the current war, in which at least 35,500 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, according to the territory’s Hamas-run health ministry.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken echoed the president’s condemnation, saying Washington “fundamentally rejects” the move. “It is shameful,” he said. “[The] ICC has no jurisdiction over this matter.”

Mr Blinken also suggested the request for arrest warrants would jeopardise ongoing efforts to reach a ceasefire deal.

Mr Khan also applied for arrest warrants for Mr Gallant and Hamas’s political leader Ismail Haniyeh, along with the group’s military chief Mohammed Deif.

He said Israel’s prime minister and defence minister were suspected of crimes including starvation of civilians as a method of warfare, murder, intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population, and extermination.

The prosecutor said the alleged crimes began “from at least 7 October 2023” in the Hamas leaders’ case, when the group launched its attack on Israel, and “from at least 8 October 2023” for the Israeli leaders.

The ICC defended its stance on Monday, saying that despite “significant efforts” it had not received “any information that has demonstrated genuine action at the domestic level [in Israel] to address the crimes alleged or the individuals under investigation”.

A panel of judges at the ICC must now consider whether to issue the warrants and, if they do, countries signed up to the ICC statute are obliged to arrest the men if they have such an opportunity.

 

REUTERS

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