The ICC applies for arrest warrants against Netanyahu and Sinwar

Jerusalem, Israel.  January 25, 2023. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich hold a press conference at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, Israel on Wednesday, January 25, 2023.  Image: Pool Photo by Ronen Zvulun/ Credit: UPI/Alamy Live news

The ICC’s chief prosecutor accused Israeli and Hamas leaders of war crimes while repeating false claims against Hamas and downplaying Israeli violence against Palestinians, The Cradle news service writes.

The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has requested arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar, the head of the movement’s military wing Mohammad Deif, and the head of the Political Bureau. , Ismail Haniyeh, for war crimes.

Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan said there were reasonable grounds to believe that all bore criminal responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity from at least October 7, 2023.

The ICC, based in The Hague, opened an investigation into Israel’s actions in the occupied territories in 2021. The investigation has expanded to include both Israeli and Hamas actions since the start of the Gaza war on October 7.

The ICC accused Hamas of killing hundreds of Israelis and committing several war crimes during its attack on Israeli military bases and settlements during Operation Al-Aqsa Flood. The ICC charges include extermination, murder, hostage-taking, rape and other sexual crimes, and torture.

The ICC statement also fails to mention that Israeli forces killed many of their own civilians during the October 7 Hamas attack by responding with heavy weapons. Israeli media have reported that the army has used helicopters, drones and tanks to open fire on Hamas fighters and their Israeli prisoners in settlements (kibbutzim), military bases and the Nova music festival.

These heavy weapons burned many Israelis alive or buried them under the rubble of the homes they destroyed. The killings and resulting mutilation of the bodies were subsequently blamed on Hamas by Israeli authorities, who suggested that fighters from Hamas’s armed wing, the Qassam Brigades, had tortured them.

UN investigators have sought evidence that Hamas committed mass rape on October 7 in response to Israeli claims, but Israel has been unable to provide it. Many reports of Hamas committing mass rape, including a widely publicized article in the New York Times in December, have been proven to be false.

The ICC also accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant of war crimes, including extermination, murder, targeting civilians and using starvation as a weapon of war.

The ICC statement focused on Israel’s efforts to starve Palestinians in Gaza, citing its efforts to cut off food, water, medicine and electricity to the enclave starting October 9. The ICC statement mentions Israeli attacks on civilians, including those queuing for food.

The statement claims that Israel committed these war crimes as part of its right to self-defense and to defeat Hamas, secure the release of Israeli prisoners held by the group, and punish civilians it considers a “threat.”

At the same time, the ICC statement did not mention the rationale for the Hamas attack, which was to break the 17-year siege of Gaza, end decades of illegal occupation and settlement in the West Bank, and free thousands of Palestinians held hostage were in Israel. prisons.

The ICC statement makes no mention of Israel’s brutal bombing of Gaza, of Israeli sniper drones killing civilians, and of the torture and sexual abuse of Palestinian prisoners housed in Gaza and taken to detention centers in Israel. The ICC statement also makes no mention of Israeli efforts to ethnically cleanse Gaza, nor of the estimated number of Palestinians killed by Israeli bombing and other actions, which now exceeds 34,000, including about 8,000 children, according to conservative UN estimates .

In response, an Israeli official told the Times of Israel that Karim Khan’s “baseless blood libel against Israel has crossed a red line in his legal efforts against the only Jewish state and the only democracy in the Middle East.”

“The blood libel will not prevent Israel from defending itself and achieving all its just war objectives,” the official said. Netanyahu will make a video statement later in the day.

First published in The Cradle, May 20, 2024.

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