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21 June, 2024
 
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ICC seeks arrest warrants for Hamas leader and Israeli PM

Charges include war crimes and crimes against humanity over October 7 attacks and subsequent Gaza war

Source: CNN

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is seeking arrest warrants for Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity related to the October 7 attacks on Israel and the ensuing war in Gaza. ICC prosecutor Karim Khan confirmed this in an exclusive interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday.

Warrants are also being pursued for Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Hamas military leader Mohammed Deif, and Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh. This unprecedented move marks the first time the ICC has targeted a leader from a close U.S. ally.

Khan's office has gathered evidence, including video footage, photographs, and testimonies, to support charges against the Hamas leaders for “extermination, murder, taking of hostages, rape, and sexual assault in detention.” He highlighted the global shock following the October 7 attacks when Hamas militants killed about 1,200 people in southern Israel and took around 250 hostages.

The charges against Netanyahu and Gallant include “causing extermination, causing starvation as a method of war, denying humanitarian relief, and deliberately targeting civilians.” Netanyahu called the decision a “political outrage” and vowed to continue military operations.

Hamas condemned the ICC’s actions, accusing it of equating victims with aggressors. Israeli officials, including Benny Gantz and opposition leader Yair Lapid, criticized the ICC’s decision as morally flawed and unjust.

Israel’s President Isaac Herzog called the decision “beyond outrageous.” Netanyahu previously condemned potential ICC actions against Israeli officials as historically outrageous, emphasizing Israel’s independent legal system.

Khan reiterated that “nobody is above the law” and invited Israel to challenge the ICC’s jurisdiction through the court’s judicial process.

Although Israel and the United States are not ICC members, the court claims jurisdiction over Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank. This ICC announcement is separate from a case at the International Court of Justice alleging Israeli genocide against Palestinians.

The ICC, based in The Hague, operates independently under the Rome Statute, with 124 member countries obligated to comply with its decisions. If arrest warrants are issued, member countries must arrest and extradite the accused, restricting their international travel.

Sinwar, Haniyeh, and Deif are designated as global terrorists by the U.S., facing travel bans, asset freezes, and sanctions.

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