ICC prosecutor seeks arrest warrants for Netanyahu, Hamas leaders: What happens next?

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun16,2024
The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) applied for arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and top Hamas leaders on suspicion of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Prosecutor Karim Khan said he was seeking warrants against Netanyahu and Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant for crimes including “starvation”, “wilful killing”, and “extermination and/or murder”.

“We submit that the crimes against humanity charged were committed as part of a widespread and systematic attack against the Palestinian civilian population pursuant to State policy. These crimes, in our assessment, continue to this day,” said Khan, in reference to Netanyahu and Gallant.

The charges laid against the Hamas leaders — Yahya Sinwar, the head of the movement in Gaza, and Ismail Haniyeh, the movement’s political chief — include “extermination”, “rape and other acts of sexual violence”, and “taking hostages as a war crime”.
“We submit that the crimes against humanity charged were part of a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population of Israel by Hamas and other armed groups pursuant to organisational policies,” said the statement.

Khan alleged that the two Hamas leaders — plus Mohammed Deif, who heads Hamas’ armed wing — were “criminally responsible for the killing of hundreds of Israeli civilians” during the attacks of 7 October 2023.

What happens next?

ICC judges will now decide whether the application meets the threshold for the warrants to be formally issued — a process that could take some weeks or even months.

“Today we once again underline that international law and the laws of armed conflict apply to all. No foot soldier, no commander, no civilian leader — no one — can act with impunity,” said the prosecutor.

If granted, the warrant means that technically any of the 124 ICC member states would be obliged to arrest Netanyahu if he travelled there.

But while the warrant could complicate some travel for Netanyahu, the court has no mechanism to enforce its warrants, relying on its members to uphold them.

Legal experts have told news agency Agence France-Presse that Hamas and Israel could face war crimes charges over the conflict.

Veteran war crimes prosecutor Reed Brody said the application was “a watershed event in the history of international justice”.

What is the International Criminal Court?

Having opened in 2002, the ICC is the world’s only independent court set up to investigate the gravest offences, including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

It is a “court of last resort” and only steps in if countries are unwilling or unable to investigate cases themselves.

It hit the headlines in March 2023 when it issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin on the war crime accusation of unlawfully deporting Ukrainian children.

Reactions after ICC’s move

Netanyahu rejected the landmark request “with disgust”, while foreign minister Israel Katz criticised it as “a historical disgrace that will be remembered forever”.
The United States also firmly criticised the prosecutor’s move.

US President Joe Biden called the application “outrageous” and secretary of state Antony Blinken denounced it as “shameful”.

“Whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence — none — between Israel and Hamas,” Biden said in a statement.
Hamas said it “strongly condemns” the ICC prosecutor’s application for arrest warrants against its leaders — but said it supported the ICC’s move against Netanyahu and Gallant.

South Africa, which led international efforts to brand Israel’s assault on Gaza a genocide, welcomed the arrest warrant requests and said the law must “be applied equally to all”.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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One thought on “ICC prosecutor seeks arrest warrants for Netanyahu, Hamas leaders: What happens next?”
  1. I believe that this is a crucial step towards justice and accountability for the victims of war crimes. It is essential for international law to be upheld, and perpetrators, regardless of their positions, should be held accountable for their actions.

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