ICC Prosecutor Seeks Arrest Warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

by | May 20, 2024

The Prosecutor of International Criminal Court (ICC) today announced that he is seeking arrest warrants for two Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and three top Hamas officials for evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The ICC Prosecutor sought warrants for Yahya Sinwar, who is the head of Hamas in Gaza; Mohammed Diab Ibrahim Al-Masri, the head Al-Qassam Brigades, which is Hamas’s military wing; and Ismail Haniyeh, the exiled head of Hamas’s political bureau. All three are charged with atrocities committed in Israel on October 7, 2023.

Warrants were also sought for the arrest of Netanyahu and the Israeli Minister of Defense, Yoav Gallant. Both Israeli officials are charged with criminal actions in response to the October 7 attacks during its ongoing “Operation Swords of Iron” operation in the Gaza Strip, which has been deemed a plausible genocide by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), a separate legal body at the Hague in the Netherlands.

Netanyahu and Gallant are both accused of using starvation as a method of warfare, willfully causing great suffering of the civilian population, intentionally attacking the civilian population, and other inhumane acts.

In his statement announcing the warrant request, ICC Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan described Israel as having committed “crimes against humanity” as part of “a widespread and systematic attack against the Palestinian civilian population pursuant to State policy.”

In addition to indiscriminate attacks on civilians and systematic targeting of civilian infrastructure, Khan said that Israel has “intentionally and systematically deprived the civilian population in all parts of Gaza of objects indispensable to human survival.”

Arrest warrants have not yet been issued by the ICC as Khan’s request still requires approval by a panel of three court judges.

Israel is not a member of the ICC, but arrest warrants could make it difficult for Netanyahu to travel to any of the court’s 124 member states.

Israel has perpetrated its atrocities in Gaza with openly genocidal intent, notwithstanding Israeli officials’ public relations messaging denying any wrongdoing.

Defense Minister Gallant proclaimed the policy of intentionally depriving the civilian population of items necessary for their survival on October 9, 2023, saying, “I have ordered a complete siege on the Gaza Strip. There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel. Everything is closed. We are fighting human animals and we are acting accordingly.”

The next day, Gallant said, “We are fighting human animals. . . . Gaza won’t return to what it was before. We will eliminate everything.”

Netanyahu has repeatedly invoked Biblical language to justify Israel’s assault on Gaza’s civilian population, with over 35,000 Palestinians killed, about 70% of whom have been women and children.

On October 16, Netanyahu described the situation as “a struggle between the children of light and the children of darkness”.

On October 29, Netanyahu invoked the Israelite genocide of the tribe of Amalek in the Bible (see 1 Samuel Chapter 15), telling fellow Israelis, “‘Remember what Amalek did to you.’ We remember and we fight. . . . This will be a victory of good over evil, of light over darkness, of life over death.”

On November 3, he reiterated, “‘Remember what Amalek did to you’. . . . This is the war between the sons of light and the sons of darkness. We will not let up on our mission until the light overcomes the darkness – the good will defeat the extreme evil that threatens us and the entire world.”

The case at the ICJ was brought against Israel by the government of South Africa, which included in its application several pages documenting genocidal statements by Israeli leaders.

Last week, on May 15, a detailed analysis by international legal experts was published documenting why Israel’s assault on the civilian population of Gaza meets the definition of genocide under international law.

The report, titled “Genocide in Gaza“, was jointly produced by the University Network for Human Rights, the International Human Rights Clinic at Boston University School of Law, the International Human Rights Clinic at Cornell Law School, the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria, and the Lowenstein Human Rights Project at Yale Law School.

As I detailed in my article “US Humanitarian Aid to Gaza Is a Cynical PR Ploy“, Israel’s genocide in Gaza has been supported by the US government under the administration of President Joe Biden, including using its veto to block ceasefire resolutions at the UN Security Council and providing Israel with arms.

Biden responded to the ICC Prosecutor’s statement by condemning it as “outrageous” and vowing to continue supporting Israel.

The 1948 Genocide Convention, which Israel is accused of violating in the ongoing ICJ case, prohibits states from acting complicitly in the crime of genocide, which means that, however unlikely, US government officials could also be prosecuted by the ICC for crimes against humanity.

[Correction, May 22, 2024: Due to an editing oversight, language from a first draft of this article made its way into the final, and although the originally published version explained that the arrest warrants have been requested but not yet issued, the overlooked early language said the warrants had been issued. This has been corrected.]

Cross-posted from JeremyRHammond.com.

Jeremy R. Hammond

Jeremy R. Hammond

Jeremy R. Hammond is an independent journalist and a Research Fellow at The Libertarian Institute whose work focuses on exposing deceitful mainstream propaganda that serves to manufacture consent for criminal government policies. He has written about a broad range of topics, including US foreign policy, economics and the role of the Federal Reserve, and public health policies. He is the author of several books, including Obstacle to Peace: The US Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Ron Paul vs. Paul Krugman: Austrian vs. Keynesian Economics in the Financial Crisis, and The War on Informed Consent. Find more of his articles and sign up to receive his email newsletters at JeremyRHammond.com.

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