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

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The International Criminal Court (ICC) is reportedly on the verge of issuing arrest warrants for several senior Israeli government officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, over allegations connected to the Israeli-Hamas conflict, according to insights from five anonymous Israeli and foreign officials cited by the New York Times.

The officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, suggested that the ICC is also considering similar actions against leaders of Hamas. The potential charges may relate to hindering the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza and what has been described as a disproportionate response to the Hamas-led attacks on October 7.

The Israeli officials have expressed concern about the implications of such cases, with fears mounting that Prime Minister Netanyahu might be directly named in the warrants. Specific charges against Hamas leaders have not been clarified.

The Israeli government is actively seeking to counteract the ICC’s possible actions.

Spearheaded by the National Security Council and with the involvement of the Foreign Ministry, Israel is leaving no stone unturned, an Israeli diplomat told The Times of Israel.

IDF international spokesman Nadav Shoshani conducted an uncommon Shabbat briefing for international journalists, highlighting Israel’s support for a temporary humanitarian pier off Gaza’s coast, aimed at mitigating the ICC’s potential actions.

Reports indicate that the United States is engaged in a diplomatic bid to halt the ICC’s progress.

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 stated that any decisions by the ICC will not deter Israel’s defense strategies but will set a dangerous precedent affecting not just Israeli soldiers but also the broader 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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