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Israel and Hamas both rejected the ICC attempt to arrest their leaders for war crimes

Amidst intense clashes in the Gaza Strip, Israel and Hamas vehemently opposed moves on Monday to apprehend their leaders for alleged war crimes before an international court.

Karim Khan, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, announced his pursuit of arrest warrants for top Israeli and Hamas figures in connection with the conflict.

Israel criticized the demand targeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, labeling it a “historical disgrace,” while Hamas denounced the action, stating it “strongly condemns” the initiative.

Netanyahu expressed his disdain, rejecting the comparison drawn by the Hague prosecutor between Israel and Hamas, emphasizing Israel’s democratic nature over the alleged actions of Hamas.

Khan outlined the basis for seeking warrants against Israeli leaders, citing crimes such as “wilful killing,” “extermination and/or murder,” and “starvation,” alleging that Israel committed “crimes against humanity” during the conflict, which Hamas initiated with an unprecedented attack on October 7.

Additionally, Khan held Hamas leaders, including Ismail Haniyeh based in Qatar and Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar, accountable for actions during the October 7 assault, including “taking hostages,” “rape and other acts of sexual violence,” and “torture.”

Asserting the universality of international law and laws of armed conflict, Khan emphasized that accountability applies to all, from foot soldiers to civilian leaders, stating, “No one can act with impunity.”

The events described occurred amidst escalating tensions between Israel and Hamas, including legal actions taken by the International Criminal Court against their leaders.

The warrants, if granted, would require any ICC member state to arrest Netanyahu and others if they entered their territory, though the court lacks enforcement mechanisms. The United States and Israel rejected the ICC’s move, while Germany criticized it as creating a false equivalence.

South Africa welcomed the action, and France affirmed support for the ICC’s independence. The conflict saw significant displacement of Palestinians, with casualties reported on both sides. Israel’s offensive against Hamas resulted in a significant loss of civilian lives and infrastructure damage in Gaza, exacerbating humanitarian concerns due to the blockade.

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