Arrest warrants for Israel and Hamas leaders for War crimes

Leaders of Israel and Hamas group are wanted for War crimes

The Chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has now applied for arrest warrants for the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu and the leader of Hamas, Yahya Sinwar for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Also wanted by the ICC are the Israeli defence minister, Yoav Gallant, the military chief for Hamas, Mohammed Deif and the Hamas Political leader, Ismail Haniyeh.

The Chief Prosecutor of the ICC, who took position in 2021 believe they are responsible for war crimes since the 7th October when Hamas attacked Israel leaving 1200 killed and took 252 hostages back to Gaza. This is the event which triggered the current war which has left around 35,000 Palestinians killed and many more starved and displaced. Khan believes crimes have been committed and are continuing to be carried out and is determined to find justice.

The crimes Hamas are accused of include, extermination, murder, hostage taking, rape, sexual violence and torture as war methods.

The crimes the Israel members are accused of include, starvation of civilians as a method of war, murder, extermination and intentional civilian attacks.


The ICC next steps

Judges from the ICC will now decide whether arrest warrants for those mentioned can be granted with sufficient evidence.

There will be 3 judges which are reported to be from Romania, Benin and Mexico. There will be an immense amount of external pressure on the judges during this substantial moment the world is watching


What could happen if the arrest warrants are granted?

This would be the first time a Western-style democracy will have an arrest warrant for their leader. This will concern allies of Israel and test the power and limitations of the ICC.

The Guardian reports that if the arrest warrants are granted then those wanted will have their travel options severely limited. The ICC does not have its own police force and so rely heavily on member states to carry out their sanctions.

The 124 state members of the ICC will have an obligation to carry out arrest of any and all of the figures if they have the opportunity to. Non-members will be under pressure to carry out arrests, however they are not under obligation. China, Russia and the US are three powerful non-members and could very well dismiss the warrants meaning travel to these countries could be viable.

Those in Gaza such as, Sinwar and Deif are out of reach and well as those in non-member countries.


The international response

Khan applying for these arrest warrants was a bold move against those involved and the response has been varied. Khan did also state that more warrants will be applied for in the future.

Joe Biden, has expressed his disdain calling the move “outrageous” as he believes Israel and the Hamas group should not be compared by the same measures.

The US Secretary of State has stated his plan to take legal action against the ICC and the warrants.

The US is not a member of the ICC despite them supporting the warrants against Vladimir Putin for the attack on Ukraine. They are a known ally of Israel and have been supplying weapons throughout this conflict.

A spokesperson for Rishi Sunak also takes an opposed position as Israel is not a state party of the Rome Statue and so is outside of the ICC’s areas of jurisdiction.

The South African Presidency welcomes the action taken and believes accountability needs to be taken for the current events and conflict taking place.

The Israel prime minister, Netanyahu has denounced the warrants as he says this will be taking away their right for defence against an attacker.

Hamas have called out to say they are the victim of brutal attacks by Israel and should not be condemned in the same manner.


Many take the stance against the action as it was the Hamas attack in October 2023 which began this conflict and Israel have the right to defend themselves.

As Khan counterargues that defence should not include civilian attacks and using starvation of civilians as a war method as the bombing attacks that have happened and continue to happen have destroyed millions of people and areas within Gaza.

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