ICC requests arrest warrants for Netanyahu, Hamas leaders over ‘war crimes’

An International Criminal Court prosecutor announced Monday that he has filed applications for arrest warrants against Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Hamas leaders for allegedly committing "war crimes" during the conflict in Gaza. 

Prosecutor Karim Khan said in a statement that based on evidence collected and examined by his office, he has "reasonable grounds" to believe Netanyahu and Gallant "bear criminal responsibility for ... war crimes and crimes against humanity committed on the territory of the State of Palestine." 

He said those alleged crimes include "starvation of civilians as a method of warfare" and "intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population." 

FILE - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant attend a press conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv on October 28, 2023. (Photo by Abir Sulan/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Khan also said he is seeking arrest warrants for Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, its top political leader Ismail Haniyeh and its military commander Mohammed Dief. 


He alleged that since the Oct. 7 massacre in Israel, the three are criminally responsible for "extermination" and "murder as a crime against humanity," taking hostages as a war crime and rape and other acts of sexual violence. 

"During my own visit to Kibbutz Be’eri and Kibbutz Kfar Aza, as well as to the site of Supernova Music Festival in Re’im, I saw the devastating scenes of these attacks and the profound impact of the unconscionable crimes charged in the applications filed today," Khan said. 

"Speaking with survivors, I heard how the love within a family, the deepest bonds between a parent and a child, were contorted to inflict unfathomable pain through calculated cruelty and extreme callousness," he added. "These acts demand accountability." 


Khan also said his office has found "reasonable grounds to believe that hostages taken from Israel have been kept in inhumane conditions, and that some have been subject to sexual violence, including rape, while being held in captivity." 

Israeli war cabinet member and opposition leader Benny Gantz blasted the ICC’s announcement Monday, saying "the prosecutor’s position to apply for arrest warrants is in itself a crime of historic proportion to be remembered for generations." 

"While Israel fights with one of the strictest moral codes in history, while complying with international law and boasting a robust independent judiciary – drawing parallels between the leaders of a democratic country determined to defend itself from despicable terror to leaders of a blood-thirsty terror organization is a deep distortion of justice and blatant moral bankruptcy," he added. 

Khan said in his statement that "The independent judges of the International Criminal Court are the sole arbiters as to whether the necessary standard for the issuance of warrants of arrest has been met. 

"Should they grant my applications and issue the requested warrants," he continued. "I will then work closely with the Registrar in all efforts to apprehend the named individuals."

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