Benyamin Netanyahu targeted by an arrest warrant request from the ICC prosecutor for war crimes and crimes against humanity

American President Joe Biden deemed the arrest warrant requested against Benjamin Netanyahu by the Prosecutor General of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Karim Khan, “scandalous”. He declared, Monday, May 20, that he had submitted a request for the issuance of an arrest warrant against the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his Minister of Defense, Yoav Gallant, for war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the Gaza Strip.

“I will be clear: whatever the prosecutor insinuates, there is no equivalence between Israel and Hamas, there is none,” said Joe Biden. “We will always stand with Israel in the face of threats to its security,” the American president stressed. “We reject the equivalence drawn by the prosecutor between Israel and Hamas. It’s a shame,” said his head of diplomacy, Antony Blinken, adding that the ICC had “no legal jurisdiction” over Israel.

“Based on the evidence collected and reviewed by my office, I have reasonable grounds to believe that Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, and Yoav Gallant, the Minister of Defense of Israel, bear responsibility criminal offense of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the territory of the State of Palestine (in the Gaza Strip) from at least October 8, 2023,” the ICC prosecutor said in a statement. headquarters in The Hague.

The Attorney General accuses them of crimes such as “deliberately starving civilians,” “intentional homicide” and “extermination and/or murder.” “We affirm that the crimes against humanity referred to in the petitions were a continuation of a widespread and systematic attack directed against the Palestinian civilian population. According to our findings, some of these crimes continue to be committed,” Khan said.

Yahya Sinouar targeted by the request

Three Hamas leaders are also affected by the request: Ismaïl Haniyeh (head of the Hamas political bureau), Mohammed Diab Ibrahim Al-Masri, better known as Mohammed Deif, commander of the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, and Yahya Sinouar (leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip). The ICC prosecutor believes that they “bear criminal responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the territory of Israel and the State of Palestine (in the Gaza Strip) as of October 7 2023,” the date of Hamas’s attack on Israel.

Charges against the Palestinian organization’s leaders include “extermination,” “rape and other forms of sexual violence,” “hostage-taking as a war crime,” and “directing intentionally attacks against the civilian population as a war crime.” The alleged acts were allegedly committed on Palestinian territory and in Israel.

It is now up to the ICC judges to determine whether the conditions are met to issue these arrest warrants requested by the Attorney General. If these judges decide to issue the arrest warrant against Benjamin Netanyahu, this means that in theory, any of the 124 member states of the ICC would be obliged to arrest him if he goes to their territory. The Court has no police force to enforce its mandates and relies on the willingness of member states to play the game.

Hamas and Israel denounce the decision

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that he “rejects with disgust the Hague prosecutor’s comparison between Israel,” a “democratic” country, and “the mass murderers of Hamas.”

The Israeli Foreign Minister, Israel Katz, denounced a “scandalous decision” and a “historic dishonor”. Demanding warrants against “the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense of the State of Israel alongside the abominable Nazi monsters of Hamas”, “Hamas murderers and rapists” who “are committing crimes against “humanity against our brothers and sisters” is a “frontal attack” and “a historical shame which will remain forever engraved in memories”, said the minister in a press release.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog was outraged in a statement by prosecutor Karim Khan’s “unilateral approach”, judging that it “constitutes a political measure that encourages terrorists throughout the world.” Benny Gantz, member of the war cabinet, for his part, castigated “a historic crime”. “The State of Israel embarked on the most just war, after a massacre perpetrated by a terrorist organization against its citizens. The State of Israel fights in the most moral manner in history, while adhering to international law, and has an independent and strong judicial system. Placing the leaders of a country that fights to protect its citizens on the same level as bloodthirsty terrorists is moral blindness,” he reacted on X.

Hamas denounces “the attempts of the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to equate the victim with the executioner by issuing arrest warrants against a number of leaders of the Palestinian resistance,” according to the statement from the Palestinian Islamist group.

The French left welcomes the ICC announcement

“Israel/Palestine. On October 7 [2023], the rebels demanded punishment for ALL war crimes. The International Criminal Court is issuing an arrest warrant against those it accuses of being the perpetrators on the basis of its investigation,” reacted Monday on X, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leader of La France insoumise (LFI ).

“We will be completely satisfied when the genocide stops. France must implement the promise of Minister [of the Armed Forces, Sébastien] Lecornu[,] and prosecute the French who participate in the genocide,” he added, referring to the Franco-Israeli dual nationals who serve in the Israeli army.

Focusing on the part of the ICC’s decisions targeting Israel, the coordinator of LFI, Manuel Bompard, estimated that “France and the European Union must take note of this by declaring an embargo on arms deliveries and by deciding to sanctions against the Israeli government.

Same approach for Fabien Roussel, the leader of the communists: “War crimes and crimes against humanity. These are the words of the International Criminal Court which issues an arrest warrant against Benjamin Netanyahu,” he also said on X.

“Historic request from the ICC prosecutor to obtain arrest warrants against [Benyamin] Netanyahu, his defense minister and three Hamas leaders, for war crimes and crimes against humanity. International law above all,” declared, for his part, the first secretary of the Socialist Party, Olivier Faure, including Israel and Hamas in his reaction.

“ICC arrest warrant, the only way to stop the massacre in Gaza,” said environmentalist MP Sandrine Rousseau.