update deskIsrael at War

WATCH: Netanyahu’s statement on potential ICC arrest warrants

"Branding Israel's leaders and soldiers as war criminals will pour jet fuel on the fires of antisemitism, those fires that are already raging on the campuses of America and across capitals around the world."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a press conference in Jerusalem, March 31, 2024. Photo by Marc Israel Sellem/POOL.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a press conference in Jerusalem, March 31, 2024. Photo by Marc Israel Sellem/POOL.

Below is the full text of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement on the possibility of the International Criminal Court issuing arrest warrants for top Israeli officials.

You have to hear this to believe this. The International Criminal Court in The Hague is contemplating issuing arrest warrants against senior Israeli government and military officials as war criminals.

This would be an outrage of historic proportions.

International bodies like the ICC arose in the wake of the Holocaust committed against the Jewish people. They were set up to prevent such horrors, to prevent future genocides.

Yet now the International Court is trying to put Israel in the dock. It’s trying to put us in the dock as we defend ourselves against genocidal terrorists and regimes, Iran of course, that openly works to destroy the one and only Jewish state.

Branding Israel’s leaders and soldiers as war criminals will pour jet fuel on the fires of antisemitism, those fires that are already raging on the campuses of America and across capitals around the world.

It will also be the first time that a democratic country fighting for its life according to the rules of war is itself accused of war crimes.

The Israeli army, the IDF, is one of the most moral militaries in the world.

It takes endless measures to prevent civilian casualties, measures that no other army takes.

It does so while fighting a terrorist enemy which uses its own civilians as human shields.  

You know the truth. Hamas places its weapons, its terrorists in hospitals, schools, mosques and throughout civilian areas. They do this in order to win immunity and to maximize civilian casualties. 

So, while Hamas shows no care for the lives of Palestinians and steals humanitarian aid meant for civilians, Israel is facilitating a surge of humanitarian assistance to Gaza. And we do this to ensure that the Palestinian population’s humanitarian needs are met. 

Rather than commend Israel for abiding by the rules of war while fighting an enemy that violates every rule of war, including holding 133 Israeli men, women and children hostage, who’s the ICC targeting? The democracy called Israel.

And in targeting Israel, the ICC would be targeting all democracies because it would be undermining their inherent right to defend themselves against savage terrorism and wanton aggression. 

Clearly, this threat by the ICC is not an attempt to enforce the law.

Israel is not even subject to the court’s jurisdiction and it has an independent legal system that rigorously investigates all violations of the law.

Rather, this ICC attempt is an attempt to paralyze Israel’s very ability to defend itself. 

The government and people of Israel reject outright this grave threat to our security. This grave threat to our very existence.

And I want to assure you, no ICC action will impact Israel’s ironclad determination to achieve the goals of our war with Hamas terrorists: We will destroy Hamas’s military and governing capabilities in Gaza, we will release all our hostages, and we will ensure that Gaza never poses a threat to Israel again. 

Israel expects the leaders of the free world to stand firmly against the ICC outrageous assault on Israel’s inherent right of self-defense. We expect them to use all the means at their disposal to stop this dangerous move.

Six months after the terrible Hamas massacre of October 7, 80 years after the horrors of the Holocaust, the Jewish state calls on decent people everywhere to reject this outrage by the ICC, to stand with Israel as we fight the barbarians of Hamas and Iran, and as we work to secure a more peaceful world.

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