ICC Pursues Arrest Warrants for Hamas and Israeli Leaders on War Crimes Charges

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is pursuing arrest warrants for Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity related to the October 7 attacks on Israel and the ensuing conflict in Gaza. This information was revealed by the ICC’s chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, in an exclusive interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

Khan also stated that the ICC is seeking warrants for Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and two other high-ranking Hamas leaders: Mohammed Diab Ibrahim al-Masri, also known as Mohammed Deif, the leader of the Al Qassem Brigades, and Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’ political leader.

This marks the first time the ICC has targeted a top leader of a close U.S. ally, placing Netanyahu alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin, for whom the ICC issued an arrest warrant over Moscow’s war in Ukraine.

A panel of ICC judges will now review Karim Khan’s application for arrest warrants. Khan explained that the charges against Yahya Sinwar, Ismail Haniyeh, and Mohammed Diab Ibrahim al-Masri include “extermination, murder, taking of hostages, rape, and sexual assault in detention.”

Khan highlighted the shock experienced worldwide on October 7 when individuals were forcibly taken from their homes in Israel. He emphasized the enormous suffering endured by the victims.

The charges against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant encompass “causing extermination, causing starvation as a method of war, including the denial of humanitarian relief supplies, and deliberately targeting civilians in conflict,” Khan told Amanpour.

When reports emerged last month that the ICC chief prosecutor was considering this action, Netanyahu stated that any ICC arrest warrants against senior Israeli government and military officials “would be an outrage of historic proportions,” emphasizing that Israel has “an independent legal system that rigorously investigates all violations of the law.”

In response to Netanyahu’s comments, Karim Khan told Amanpour, “Nobody is above the law.” He advised that if Israel disagrees with the ICC, “they are free, notwithstanding their objections to jurisdiction, to raise a challenge before the judges of the court.”

Although Israel and the United States are not ICC members, the court claims jurisdiction over Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank since Palestinian leaders formally accepted the court’s founding principles in 2015.

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