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ICC warrants for Israeli officials a ‘sham,’ say members of Congress

Members of Congress slammed the International Criminal Court's decision to seek arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

The International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, in 2016. Credit: U.N. Photo.
The International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, in 2016. Credit: U.N. Photo.

Members of Congress reacted on Monday to the International Criminal Court’s decision to seek arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant for “war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

The Hague-based court, which investigates and tries those “charged with the gravest crimes of concern to the international community: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression,” is seeking arrest warrants in tandem for the Israeli officials and Hamas terrorist leaders.

Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called the court’s decision “absurd.”

“The ICC, like the rest of the international community, continues to be obsessed with targeting Israel during its time of need,” Risch stated. “There is no cause for why the court should be investigating Israel as it is not a party to the Rome Statute and Israel has a fully functional judiciary.”

“The fact that the court applied for warrants for Hamas and Israeli officials at the same time provides a false moral equivalency between their actions,” Risch added. “Israel has responded to reckless Hamas aggression with extreme caution for civilians while Hamas raped and murdered Israeli and American civilians. Today’s actions have hurt the credibility of the court and seriously harmed legitimate accountability efforts where true war crimes are occurring, like Ukraine, Syria and across Africa.”

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) wrote that “the ICC has embarrassed itself with these sham charges against Israel’s leadership.”

“America stands with Israel,” he added. “While Israel delivers aid and protects innocent lives, Hamas terrorists take hostages and use children as shields and hospitals as armories,”

“America doesn’t recognize the International Criminal Court, but the court sure as hell will recognize what happens when you target our allies,” wrote Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.).

“Israel is not a member of the ICC and therefore the ICC has no jurisdiction. The decision to seek arrest warrants is not law but politics,” wrote Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.). “It is not justice but rather retribution against Israel for the original sin of existing as a Jewish state and the subsequent sin of defending itself amid the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust.”

The ICC decision “in effect makes it criminal for a state like Israel to defend itself against an enemy shrewd enough to embed itself in a civilian population, as Hamas has done to an extent never seen before in the history of warfare,” Torres said.

“But for Oct. 7 and Hamas’s unprecedented militarization of its own civilian population and infrastructure, there would be no war in Gaza and no humanitarian crisis among Gazans,” Torres added. “Hamas is the cause of everything tragic that has ensued and Hamas alone should be the target of criminal prosecution.”

Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-N.Y.) called the decision “a mistake” that “will forever damage the credibility of the ICC.”

“There can be no equivocation,” Molinaro wrote. “Prime Minister Netanyahu is the leader of a democracy and is defending Israel’s right to exist following the horrific Oct. 7 attacks. Hamas is a terrorist organization responsible for the deaths of thousands of Israelis and Palestinians.”

“There is no moral equivalence between genocidal Hamas terrorists and the Jewish people who are defending themselves from mass extermination,” wrote Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.). “The Biden administration needs to grow a spine and condemn this action. America stands with Israel.”

Omri Ceren, legislative director in the office of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), wrote that “there’s this weird thing that happens during Democrat administrations, where international orgs like the ICC get giddy and self-indulgent about beating up on the Israelis.”

“Then Republicans take over and say “if this what the ICC does, to hell with it,'” he wrote. “Then everyone acts surprised.”

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