HomeFOREIGNInternational Criminal Court Seeks Arrest Of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Others

International Criminal Court Seeks Arrest Of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Others

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Afor Kenneth

In a significant development, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has reportedly filed applications seeking arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and top leaders of Hamas.

According to reports, the prosecutor, Karim Khan, has accused these individuals of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The allegations leveled against Netanyahu and Gallant purportedly include grave charges such as deliberately causing starvation among civilians, willful killing, extermination, and murder. Meanwhile, the Hamas leaders are also being sought for warrants on suspicion of committing similar atrocities.

If the ICC judges grant these arrest warrants, it could have far-reaching implications for the individuals involved and potentially escalate tensions in the region. However, it is crucial to note that these are currently allegations, and the judicial process must take its course before any determinations of guilt or innocence.

“We submit that the crimes against humanity charged were committed as part of a widespread and systematic attack against the Palestinian civilian population pursuant to State policy. These crimes, in our assessment, continue to this day,” said Khan in reference to Netanyahu and Gallant.

Meanwhile, the charges laid against the Hamas leaders, including Yahya Sinwar, the head of the movement in Gaza, and Ismail Haniyeh, the movement’s political chief, encompass equally severe accusations. These include extermination, rape and other acts of sexual violence, and taking hostages, which is considered a war crime.

“We submit that the crimes against humanity charged were part of a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population of Israel by Hamas and other armed groups pursuant to organisational policies,” said the statement.

This development stems from an ongoing probe initiated by the ICC prosecutor in 2021, investigating potential war crimes committed by Israel, Hamas, and other armed Palestinian groups in the Palestinian territories.

Khan stated that this investigation now “extends to the escalation of hostilities and violence since the attacks that took place on October 7, 2023.”

The prosecutor has repeatedly called for the release of all hostages in Gaza and warned against Israeli military action in Rafah. He emphasized that “all wars have rules, and the laws applicable to armed conflict cannot be interpreted so as to render them hollow or devoid of meaning.”

Khan expressed concern over the lack of “discernible change in conduct by Israel” since his visit to Ramallah last year.

The ICC is also investigating potential crimes against journalists since the outbreak of hostilities. Legal experts have suggested that both Hamas and Israel could face war crimes charges over the conflict, as the prosecutor underlined that “no foot soldier, no commander, no civilian leader – no one – can act with impunity.”

If granted, the arrest warrants would technically obligate the 124 ICC member states to arrest Netanyahu if he travels to their territories. However, the court lacks enforcement mechanisms and relies on member states’ cooperation.

Netanyahu has preemptively stated that Israel would “never accept” the ICC’s “outrageous” rulings and would “not bow to it.” Five countries have called for an ICC probe into the Israel-Hamas war, with Khan stating that his team had gathered a “significant volume” of evidence on “relevant incidents.”

The ICC, established in 2002, is the world’s only independent court set up to investigate the gravest offenses, including genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. It acts as a “court of last resort” when countries are unwilling or unable to investigate cases themselves.

The court gained significant attention in March 2023 when it issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin on war crime accusations of unlawfully deporting Ukrainian children.

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