ICC prosecutor seeks arrest of Israeli PM Netanyahu and Hamas leader Sinwar

By Wycliffe Nyamasege
On 20 May 2024 at 04:12

Karim Khan, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), now wants Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar arrested for war crimes.

In an exclusive interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday, Khan said there are reasonable grounds to believe that Netanyahu and Sinwar bear criminal responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity since October 7, 2023.

Khan is also seeking the arrest of Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant and Hamas’s political leader Ismail Haniyeh, along with the group’s military chief Mohammed Deif.

Khan said the charges against Sinwar, Haniyeh and al-Masri include “extermination, murder, taking of hostages, rape and sexual assault in detention.”

“The world was shocked on the 7th of October when people were ripped from their bedrooms, from their homes, from the different kibbutzim in Israel,” Khan told Amanpour, adding that “people have suffered enormously.”

On the other hand, Khan disclosed that Netanyahu and Gallant are targeted for arrest for “causing extermination, causing starvation as a method of war, including the denial of humanitarian relief supplies, deliberately targeting civilians in conflict.

Hamas launched missile attacks on Israel on October 7, 2023, saying the attack was in response to the continued Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, the blockade of the Gaza Strip, the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements, threats to the status of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the plight of Palestinian refugees and prisoners.

Israel responded to the attack with a devastating bombardment of Gaza. Palestinian authorities said Israel’s retaliatory attack killed more than 25,000 people – mostly women and children.

The merit of Khan’s application will be determined by the ICC judges.

Notably, this is the first time the Hague-based court has targeted a top leader of a close ally of the United States in its history.

Last month, Netanyahu dismissed the ongoing probe into Israeli’s actions in Palestine territories, saying any arrest warrants against its officials “would be an outrage of historic proportions.” He maintained that Israel “has an independent legal system that rigorously investigates all violations of the law.”

Israel and the US are not members of the ICC. However, the court asserts jurisdiction over Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank since Palestinian leaders formally accepted the court’s founding principles in 2015.