Home World News ICC Prosecutor Seeks Warrants For Netanyahu, Israeli Defence Minister And Hamas Leaders

ICC Prosecutor Seeks Warrants For Netanyahu, Israeli Defence Minister And Hamas Leaders


The International Criminal Court’s prosecutor has sought arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant. He also wants warrants issued for Hamas Chief Yahya Sinwar; Mohammed Al-Masri, widely known as Deif; and Ismail Haniyeh. Al-Masri is commander-in-chief of Hamas’ military wing and Haniyeh heads the group’s Political Bureau.

ICC prosecutor Karim Khan said he had reasonable grounds to believe that all “bear criminal responsibility” for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity. “Now, more than ever, 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 addressed by my office and the court,” Khan said. “This is how we will prove, tangibly, that the lives of all human beings have equal value,” he added.

Both Netanyahu and Gallant have overseen Israel’s offensive against Hamas in Gaza since the Palestinian militant group’s deadly October 7 raid on Israel.

It will be up to a panel of pre-trial judges to determine whether the evidence supports the issuing of arrest warrants. The court, however, has no means to enforce arrest warrants and its investigation into the Gaza war has long been opposed by the United States and Israel.

The allegations against Netanyahu and Gallant are numerous. These include bearing responsibility for starvation of civilians as a method of warfare, wilfully causing great suffering and wilful killing or murder as a war crime. The Hamas leaders face allegations of bearing responsibility for crimes including extermination and murder, the taking of hostages, torture, rape and other acts of sexual violence.

Israel and Palestinian leaders have previously dismissed allegations of committing war crimes. Several Israeli ministers and Palestinian representatives denounced the prosecutor’s moves.

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Israeli war cabinet minister Benny Gantz said: “Drawing parallels between the leaders of a democratic country determined to defend itself from despicable terror to leaders of a blood-thirsty terror organisation (Hamas) is a deep distortion of justice and blatant moral bankruptcy”.

Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said the prosecutor’s decision to request warrants for the three Hamas leaders “equates the victim with the executioner”.

The ICC is the world’s first permanent international war crimes court. Its 124 member states are obliged to immediately arrest the wanted person if they are on a member state’s territory. Israel and its main ally the United States are not members of the ICC, nor are China and Russia.

At least 35,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war in Gaza so far, according to Gaza’s health ministry. Around 1,200 people were killed and more than 250 taken hostage in the Hamas-led October 7 rampage, as per Israeli estimates.

With inputs from Reuters