update deskIsrael at War

Gallant: ICC arrest warrant request must be ‘rejected explicitly’

Israel's defense minister called the attempt to establish a moral equivalence between Israel and Hamas "despicable."

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant visits Israel Defense Forces troops serving on the northern border with Lebanon, Nov. 11, 2023. Credit: Ariel Hermoni/Ministry of Defense.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant visits Israel Defense Forces troops serving on the northern border with Lebanon, Nov. 11, 2023. Credit: Ariel Hermoni/Ministry of Defense.

Israel’s defense minister on Tuesday expressed his support for the Israel Defense Forces’ conduct in the Gaza war, sharply criticizing the previous day’s decision by the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor to seek arrest warrants against himself and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Since Oct. 7, the State of Israel [has been] fighting against a brutal terrorist organization, Hamas—an enemy that conducted atrocities against Israeli children, women and men. Now, it also uses its own people as human shields,” said Yoav Gallant.

“The IDF is fighting in accordance with international law, while taking unprecedented measures to facilitate humanitarian aid,” he emphasized.

“The State of Israel is proud of its soldiers and commanders, and the values they represent. As minister of defense, I stand with, support and commend our troops, who are defending our people and fulfilling the extraordinary privilege and obligation of defending ourselves, by ourselves.

“The attempt made by the ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan to turn things around will not succeed—the parallel he has drawn between the Hamas terrorist organization and the State of Israel is despicable. The State of Israel is not a party to the Court and does not recognize its authority. Prosecutor Karim Khan’s attempt to deny the State of Israel the right to defend herself and ensure the release of the hostages held in Gaza, must be rejected explicitly.”

For his part, Netanyahu on Monday afternoon called the decision “scandalous,” stressing that it would not stop Jerusalem from destroying the Hamas terror organization.

“It’s a scandal—it won’t stop me or us,” Netanyahu told reporters on the sidelines of a faction meeting of his Likud Party in Jerusalem.

In a video statement posted to his X account on Monday night, Netanyahu said that Khan’s decision was not only directed against himself and Gallant.

“It is directed against the entire State of Israel,” stated Netanyahu. “It is directed against the IDF soldiers, who are fighting with supreme heroism against the vile Hamas murderers.”

He went on to state, “With what audacity do you dare to make a comparison between Hamas—which murdered, burned, butchered, raped, and kidnapped our brothers and sisters—and the IDF soldiers who are fighting a just war that is unparalleled, with a morality that is unmatched?”

The premier vowed that Israel would not be prevented from defending itself.

“I repeat what I said on the eve of Yom HaShoah [Holocaust Remembrance Day] in Jerusalem: As the prime minister of Israel, I pledge that no pressure, no decision, no international forum will prevent us from striking those who seek to destroy us,” he said.

Khan announced his move against Israel during an interview with CNN earlier on Monday. He said he would seek arrest warrants against Netanyahu and Gallant for “causing extermination, causing starvation as a method of war, including the denial of humanitarian relief supplies [and] deliberately targeting civilians in conflict.”

In a statement published following the CNN interview, Khan’s office said he had “reasonable grounds to believe” that Netanyahu and Gallant bore criminal responsibility for “war crimes and crimes against humanity” committed by the IDF since Hamas terrorists murdered some 1,200 people in Israel on Oct. 7.

The statement noted however 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.”

A panel of three justices from the ICC’s Pre-Trial Division will now consider Khan’s application.

If the court greenlights the warrants, it would constitute an “unprecedented antisemitic hate crime,” Netanyahu warned last month after reports surfaced of Khan’s intentions.

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