update deskIsrael at War

International Criminal Court seeks arrest warrants for Netanyahu, Gallant

Chief prosecutor Karim Khan said he would also seek warrants against Hamas terror leaders.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant hold a press conference at the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv, Oct. 28, 2023. Photo by Dana Kopel/POOL.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant hold a press conference at the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv, Oct. 28, 2023. Photo by Dana Kopel/POOL.

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor on Monday will seek arrest warrants for Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as for Hamas leaders.

The charges against Netanyahu and Gallant will include “causing extermination, causing starvation as a method of war, including the denial of humanitarian relief supplies [and] deliberately targeting civilians in conflict,” Karim Khan told CNN‘s Christiane Amanpour.

Charges against Hamas terrorist leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar, chief Ismail Haniyeh and Al-Qassam Brigades armed wing head Mohammed Deif will include “extermination, murder, taking of hostages, rape and sexual assault in detention,” he said.

In a statement published following the CNN interview, Khan’s office said he had “reasonable grounds to believe” that Netanyahu and Gallant bear criminal responsibility for “war crimes and crimes against humanity” committed since Oct. 8, 2023, the day after Hamas terrorists massacred 1,200 people, mostly civilians, in the northwestern Negev.

However, “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,” the statement noted.

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

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

“The possibility that they will issue arrest warrants for war crimes against IDF commanders and government leaders is a scandal of historical magnitude,” stated the premier.

“Eighty years after the Holocaust, the international bodies established with the goal of preventing another Holocaust are considering denying the Jewish state its right to defend itself,” he continued.

Netanyahu noted that this marks the first time that a democratic country committed to international law is defending itself from accusations of war crimes while at the same time facing existential threats.

The Palestinian Authority has declared its acceptance of ICC jurisdiction over alleged crimes committed by Israel. However, Jerusalem does not recognize the court’s jurisdiction over its military and political actions in the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria.

Khan has served as the ICC’s chief prosecutor since February 2021, when he was elected with the support of the United States.

The ICC would not be considering issuing arrest warrants without the approval of the Biden administration, Israeli media reported in late April, citing senior sources associated with the court.

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