ICC seeks warrants for Netanyahu, Hamas chief

What happened

The International Criminal Court’s top prosecutor, Karim Khan of Britain, said Monday he was seeking arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and three top Hamas officials, including leader Yahya Sinwar. Hamas broke international law by killing, kidnapping and raping Israelis on Oct. 7, 2023, Khan said, while Israel’s use of starvation and targeting of civilians in Gaza likely amounted to war crimes.

Who said what

“We must collectively demonstrate that international humanitarian law, the foundational baseline for human conduct during conflict, applies to all individuals and applies equally across the situations,” Khan said.

President Joe Biden said it was “outrageous” for Khan to target Israeli officials, arguing “there is no equivalence — none — between Israel and Hamas.” Israel’s Gaza offensive “is not genocide,” he added. Netanyahu and Sinwar both said only the other party should face punishment. 

This works out great for Netanyahu: Just when it appeared his “days in power might finally be numbered,” the ICC stepped in “to save him,” Politico said. Whatever Khan hoped to accomplish, the warrant application will only “cause Israelis to rally around their embattled prime minister.”

What next?

Khan’s request must be approved by ICC judges before warrants are issued. Israel and the U.S. are not part of the ICC, but if the warrants are approved, Netanyahu would have to be careful traveling to any of the ICC’s 124 member states.

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