Friday, June 14, 2024

ICC Prosecutor issues arrest warrants for Benjamin Netanyahu, Yoav Gallant, three Hamas leaders for war crimes

The International Criminal Court has applied for arrest warrant against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and three Hamas leaders for alleged war crimes, a statement issued by ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan on Monday said.

Warrants are issued against Yahya Sinwar (Head of Hamas in the Gaza Strip), Mohammed Diab Ibrahim Al-Masri, more commonly known as DEIF (Commander-in-Chief of the military wing of Hamas, known as the Al-Qassam Brigades), and Ismail Haniyeh (Head of Hamas Political Bureau).

All five bear criminal responsibility for the following war crimes and crimes against humanity, Khan said in his statement.

“My Office submits there are reasonable grounds to believe that SINWAR, DEIF and HANIYEH are criminally responsible for the killing of hundreds of Israeli civilians in attacks perpetrated by Hamas (in particular its military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades) and other armed groups on 7 October 2023 and the taking of at least 245 hostages,” Khan said.

Khan has faced criticism for not responding to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza where the eight-month-long war has left most of the entire population displaced and over 35,000 Palestinians killed.

The ICC was under pressure from Israel and its staunch ally United States to not issue an arrest warrant against Netanyahu.

“My Office submits that these acts were committed as part of a common plan to use starvation as a method of war and other acts of violence against the Gazan civilian population as a means to (i) eliminate Hamas; (ii) secure the return of the hostages which Hamas has abducted, and (iii) collectively punish the civilian population of Gaza, whom they perceived as a threat to Israel,” khan’s statement said about the warrant against Israel leaders.

ICC holds Israel responsible for “starvation of civilians as a method of warfare”. But interestingly avoids mentioning sexual violence against women and taking hostages as Israel’s alleged war crimes. UN reports have documented sexual violence against Palestinian women by Israel troops.

“It is critical in this moment that my Office and all parts of the Court, including its independent judges, are permitted to conduct their work with full independence and impartiality. I insist that all attempts to impede, intimidate or improperly influence the officials of this Court must cease immediately. My Office will not hesitate to act pursuant to article 70 of the Rome Statute if such conduct continues.”

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