Netanyahu denounces bid to arrest him over war in Gaza

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has angrily condemned the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor for seeking arrest warrants for him alongside Hamas’s leaders over alleged war crimes in the Gaza conflict.

Mr Netanyahu said he rejected with disgust that “democratic Israel” had been compared to what he called “mass murderers”.

Mr Netanyahu’s comments have been echoed by US President Joe Biden, who said there was no equivalence between Israel and Hamas.

The chief ICC prosecutor, Karim Khan, said there were reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Netanyahu and his defence minister Yoav Gallant bore criminal responsibility for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza.

The ICC is also seeking a warrant for Hamas’s leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, for war crimes.

On Monday, Mr Biden said there was “no equivalence – none – between Israel and Hamas.

“The ICC prosecutor’s application for arrest warrants against Israeli leaders is outrageous,” he said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken echoed the president’s condemnation, saying Washington “fundamentally rejects” the move. “It is shameful,” he said. “[The] ICC has no jurisdiction over this matter.”

Mr Blinken also suggested the request for arrest warrants would jeopardise ongoing efforts to reach a ceasefire deal.

The court’s chief prosecutor, Karim Khan KC, also applied for arrest warrants for Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and Hamas’s political leader Ismail Haniyeh, along with the group’s military chief Mohammed Deif.

He said the alleged crimes begin “from at least 7 October 2023” in the Hamas leaders’ case, when the group launched its attack on Israel, and “from at least 8 October 2023” for the Israeli leaders.

The ICC defended its stance on Monday, saying that despite “significant efforts” it had not received “any information that has demonstrated genuine action at the domestic level [in Israel] to address the crimes alleged or the individuals under investigation”.

A panel of judges at the ICC must now consider whether to issue the warrants and, if they do, countries signed up to the ICC statute are obliged to arrest the men if they have such an opportunity.


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