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Israel expresses concern over potential ICC Gaza war warrants

Photo : Reuters

Israel is expressing concern over the possibility that the International Criminal Court (ICC) may issue arrest warrants for Israeli officials regarding their involvement in the conflict with Hamas. The ICC, which has the authority to prosecute individuals for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, is currently investigating two significant events: Hamas' cross-border attack on October 7 and Israel's subsequent military campaign against Hamas-controlled Gaza, which has now been ongoing for several months.

Reports circulating in Israeli media have suggested that the ICC could soon issue arrest warrants for senior Israeli government and military figures. In response to these reports, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz has warned Israeli embassies to heighten their security measures due to the potential threat of increased anti-Semitic activity. Katz stressed the expectation that the ICC would refrain from issuing arrest warrants against Israeli political and security officials. He affirmed Israel's determination to continue its fight despite any potential legal actions.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also weighed in on the matter, stating that any decisions made by the ICC would not influence Israel's actions but could establish a dangerous precedent. Israeli officials are particularly concerned that arrest warrants might be issued against Netanyahu and other high-ranking officials for alleged violations of international humanitarian law during the conflict in Gaza.

Notably, Israel does not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC, as it is not a member of the court. However, the Palestinian territories have been granted membership status since 2015, allowing the ICC to investigate crimes committed within those territories. ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan has asserted that the court has jurisdiction over potential war crimes committed by both Hamas fighters and Israeli forces in Gaza.

The conflict in question erupted when Hamas initiated an attack on Israeli military installations and communities on October 7, resulting in significant casualties, including civilians and hostages, according to Israeli reports. In response, Israel launched a comprehensive offensive involving ground, air, and sea operations, resulting in further casualties and widespread destruction in Gaza.

Israel maintains that it takes precautions to minimize civilian casualties during its military operations and disputes the casualty figures provided by Gaza authorities. Nonetheless, the conflict has led to significant displacement and a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, affecting millions of residents.

It's important to distinguish between the ICC case and a separate genocide case against Israel that is being pursued at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague. The ICJ, also known as the World Court, deals with disputes between states, while the ICC focuses on individual criminal responsibility for war crimes.

April 29, 2024 5:39 p.m. 6951

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