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Middle East Crisis

ICC prosecutor seeks arrest warrants for Netanyahu, Hamas chiefs

ICC prosecutor seeks arrest warrants for Netanyahu, Hamas chiefs
Indonesian Muslim activists hold banner reading "Ceasefire now" and the picture of Israeli leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reading "wanted for genocide" as they protest in support Palestinian people in front of US Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, 17 May 2024. Hundreds of Indonesian muslim activists stage a solidarity rally in front of US Embassy urge US goverment to not supporting Israel to occupated Palestine. EPA-EFE/BAGUS INDAHONO

(Bloomberg) --The chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court said Monday he is seeking arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar on war crimes charges.

Karim Khan said in a statement that the charges relate to the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by the Hamas militant group, and to Israel’s military response in Gaza. A panel of ICC judges will consider whether or not to accept the application.

The decision to seek charges against the Israeli leader is controversial and comes despite a US warning that is could jeopardize the chance for a cease-fire deal.

“We submit that the crimes against humanity charged were committed as part of a widespread and systematic attack against the Palestinian civilian population pursuant to state policy,” Khan wrote. “These crimes, in our assessment, continue to this day.”

Khan is also seeking arrest warrants for Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and two other Hamas leaders, military chief Mohammed Diab Ibrahim al-Masri and political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh. Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by the US and the European Union.

The Israeli government had been worried about possible arrest warrants for its leadership and the US has been publicly opposed to the ICC investigation.

“We’ve been really clear about the ICC investigation — we do not support it,” White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters last month. “We don’t believe that they have the jurisdiction.”

Earlier this month, the ICC ordered an end to attempts to threaten its officials, days after the US and allies raised concerns that the court may issue arrest warrants for Israeli officials.

The ICC investigates and tries individuals charged with genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression. Israel hasn’t ratified the ICC’s statute and doesn’t recognize its jurisdiction but the “State of Palestine” has been a member of the court since 2015. The US has also never been a party to the ICC.

Last year, the court issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for war crimes related to the alleged abduction of children from Ukraine, a move that was dismissed by the Kremlin.

© 2024 Bloomberg L.P.
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