Sunday, May 19, 2024

Israeli PM reacts to possible ICC arrest warrant

Arrest warrants or any other actions by the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Israeli officials will not affect Tel Aviv’s military operation in the Gaza Strip, but will set “a dangerous precedent”, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated. The Palestinian death toll from Israel's onslaught against Gaza is nearing 35,000.

Earlier this week, British journalist Douglas Murray published an article in the New York Post claiming that the ICC, which is investigating Hamas’ attack against Israel on October 7 and Tel Aviv’s response to it, is planning to bring individual war-crimes cases against Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and one of the country’s top military commanders, most likely the chief of the general staff.

Netanyahu has shared Murray’s article on X (formerly Twitter), insisting that as long as he is in power, “Israel will never accept any attempt by the ICC to undermine its inherent right of self-defense.”

“The threat to seize the soldiers and officials of the Middle East’s only democracy and the world’s only Jewish state is outrageous. We will not bow to it,” he added.

Israel’s military operation in Gaza is a “just war against genocidal terrorists”, which will continue until victory is achieved, the prime minister insisted.

“While the ICC will not affect Israel’s actions, it would set a dangerous precedent that threatens the soldiers and officials of all democracies fighting savage terrorism and wanton aggression,” he warned.

According to Gaza’s Health Ministry, the death toll from Israel’s airstrikes and ground offensive in the Palestinian enclave has already reached 34,400 people, with 77,500 others wounded.

The ICC launched an investigation into alleged war crimes by the Israeli military and Palestinian armed groups in the occupied West Bank and Gaza back in 2021. The probe covers the events since 2014. The Hague-based court insists that violations committed during the Israeli-Palestinian escalation which followed the October 7 attack are also within the jurisdiction of its investigation.

Israel’s Channel 12 reported last week that Netanyahu’s government had known about the possible ICC warrants even before Murray’s article and held an “emergency discussion” on the issue at the prime minister’s office involving several ministers and legal experts.

Israel is not a member of the ICC and does not recognize its jurisdiction, but the Palestinians joined the organization in 2015. If warrants against Netanyahu and other Israeli officials are issued, the 124 ICC member-states would be obliged to arrest them if they set foot in their countries.

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