International Criminal Court Prepares to Issue Arrest Warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Other Top Senior Officials

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The New York Times has reported that the International Criminal Court (ICC) is close to issuing arrest warrants for multiple high-ranking Israeli government officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in connection to the Israeli-Hamas conflict.

The information comes from insights provided by five unnamed Israeli and foreign officials.

These sources, who requested anonymity, have indicated that the ICC is also contemplating similar measures against Hamas leaders.

Allegations may include impeding humanitarian aid delivery to Gaza and responding disproportionately to Hamas-led attacks on October 7.

Israeli officials are alarmed by the potential consequences of such legal actions, particularly the possibility of Prime Minister Netanyahu being directly implicated.

The specifics of charges against Hamas leaders remain unclear.

In response, the Israeli government is actively working to counteract any moves by the ICC. Coordinated by the National Security Council and with support from the Foreign Ministry, Israel is intensifying its efforts to address this situation.

An Israeli diplomat informed The Times of Israel that no stone is being left unturned in Israel’s response to this development.

IDF international spokesman Nadav Shoshani went as far as holding a rare briefing for international journalists even during Shabbat, emphasizing Israel’s backing for a temporary humanitarian pier near Gaza aimed at mitigating potential ICC actions.

Furthermore, there are reports suggesting that the United States is involved in diplomatic efforts to halt the progress of the ICC regarding these matters.

Times of Israel reported:

The official confirmed earlier reports from Hebrew-language media that the United States was part of a last-ditch diplomatic effort to prevent the ICC from moving forward.

Writing for the Walla news site, analyst Ben Caspit said Netanyahu was “under unusual stress” over the prospect of an arrest warrant against him and other Israelis by the United Nations tribunal in The Hague, which would constitute a major deterioration in Israel’s international status.

Netanyahu was leading a “nonstop push over the telephone” to prevent an arrest warrant, focused especially on the administration of US President Joe Biden, Caspit reported.

Haaretz analyst Amos Harel reported that the Israeli government was working under the assumption that the ICC’s prosecutor, Karim Khan, may this week issue warrants for the arrest of Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi.

Amid the reports, Foreign Minister Israel Katz said Sunday that Israel “expects the court to refrain” from issuing arrest warrants.

“There is nothing more twisted than trying to prevent Israel from defending itself against a murderous enemy that openly calls for the destruction of Israel,” said Katz in a statement. “If the orders are issued, they will harm the commanders and soldiers of the IDF and give a boost to the terrorist organization Hamas and the radical Islamic axis led by Iran against which we are fighting.”

Katz stressed that Israel adheres to “all the laws of war,” and instructed Israel’s diplomatic missions around the world to prepare for a severe wave of antisemitism if the ICC issues arrest warrants.

Netanyahu has emphasized that the ICC’s decisions will not hinder Israel’s defense strategies, but will establish a concerning precedent that could impact not only Israeli soldiers but also the wider geopolitical landscape.

“Under my leadership, Israel will never accept any attempt by the ICC to undermine its inherent right of self-defense,” Netanyahu wrote on X.

“The threat to seize the soldiers and officials of the Middle East’s only democracy and the world’s only Jewish state is outrageous. We will not bow to it. Israel will continue to wage to victory our just war against genocidal terrorists and we will never stop defending ourselves.”

“While the ICC will not affect Israel’s actions, it would set a dangerous precedent that threatens the soldiers and officials of all democracies fighting savage terrorism and wanton aggression.”

Reuters reported:

Israel is not a member of the court, based in The Hague, and does not recognise its jurisdiction, but the Palestinian territories were admitted as a member state in 2015.

ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan said in October the court had jurisdiction over any potential war crimes carried out by Hamas fighters in Israel and by Israelis in the Gaza Strip.

Khan has said his team is actively investigating any crimes allegedly committed in Gaza and that those who are in breach of the law will be held accountable.

[…]

With 124 permanent members, the ICC can prosecute individuals for war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and aggression.

The case at the ICC is separate from the genocide case launched against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) also based in The Hague.

The ICJ, also known as the World Court, is a United Nations court that deals with disputes between states while the ICC is a treaty-based criminal court focusing on individual criminal responsibility for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

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