86 Democrats Demand Freeze on Arms Sales to Israel, Especially Regarding Iron Dome

A lot of pressure is being put on Benjamin Netanyahu, and Israeli media reports that next week the International Court of Justice in The Hague could issue an arrest warrant for Netanyahu and his closest associates

by Sededin Dedovic
86 Democrats Demand Freeze on Arms Sales to Israel, Especially Regarding Iron Dome
© Stefan Zaklin / Getty images

Eighty-six Democratic congressmen in the US Congress have called on President Joseph Biden to reconsider the sale of weapons to Israel if the Israeli government does not change its conduct in the war against the Palestinian Hamas movement.

Democrats have expressed "serious concern about the conduct of the Israeli authorities in the Gaza Strip, especially deliberate withholding of humanitarian aid," the letter from 86 members of Congress addressed to the White House said.

Israeli restrictions on the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza supported by Washington "contribute to an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe," the letter added. Signatories, including members of the House of Representatives, urge the Democratic president to make it clear to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that any obstacle to aid delivery to Gaza "jeopardizes the assistance sent by the US." Democrats also argue for suspending aid intended to strengthen Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile shield.

Among the signatories of the letter are Democrats from the House Armed Services Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Biden has been criticized since the beginning of the Gaza war on October 7, during the height of his presidential campaign, for his unconditional support for Israel.

The Israeli attack on Rafah, a city in the southern Gaza Strip where more than a million Palestinians displaced during the war reside, would cause "more than unacceptable" damage, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken warned late last night.

According to him, Israel has not presented any plan to protect civilians during that possible attack. "In the absence of such a plan, we cannot support a major military operation in Rafah, as the damage it would cause would be more than unacceptable," Blinken said during a forum at the McCain Institute in the US state of Arizona.

The US Secretary of State added that the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas remains "the only obstacle between the people of Gaza and a ceasefire" with Israel. "We are waiting for them to accept the ceasefire and release hostages.

Currently, the reality is that Hamas is the only obstacle between the people of Gaza and a ceasefire," Blinken added. The proposal envisages a ceasefire in Israeli military operations, followed by the exchange of hostages kidnapped during Hamas attacks on Israeli soil on October 7 last year for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, meets with families and supporters of the hostages held in the Gaza Strip by Hamas, as the© Amir Levy / Getty Images

Enormous Pressure on Israel

Israel has long been announcing a ground offensive on Rafah, and in addition to the great pressure from US allies and partners to stop the offensive, Benjamin Netanyahu and his associates could be arrested because the International Court of Justice in The Hague is reportedly expected to issue an arrest warrant for the Israeli prime minister and several close associates.

According to Israeli media reports, the Tel Aviv government is looking anxiously at The Hague. Allegedly, this court could issue international arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Joav Galant, and Israeli Chief of Staff Herzl Halevi this week.

The ICC conducts investigations solely against individuals. It is active only if a person is suspected of being responsible for one of the four core crimes: genocide, serious war crimes, crimes against humanity, or aggression.

However, since the ICC does not have its own police force to arrest suspects, it is unlikely that members of the Israeli government will actually appear in court in The Hague. Nevertheless, an arrest warrant would seriously limit the international freedom of movement of Netanyahu and ministers who may also be sought, as all 124 ICC member states are required to arrest wanted individuals on their territory and hand them over to the court as reported by DeutscheWelle.

For example, Vladimir Putin has stayed away from most international meetings since the court issued a warrant for his arrest for the abduction of Ukrainian children to Russia. The President of the Russian Federation travels only to states that do not recognize the ICC.

The investigation by the International Criminal Court should not be confused with the accusation of genocide that some states have brought against Israel. South Africa, among others, has accused Israel before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) of a large number of deaths in the Gaza Strip war.

At the end of January this year, the ICJ recognized the "danger of genocide in the Gaza Strip." However, South Africa's urgent request for Israel to cease all hostilities was not granted. Following this initial decision, the genocide trial is likely to continue for months or years.

Since 2021, the ICC has been investigating violence in Gaza in the summer of 2014 and possible war crimes by those allegedly responsible in Israel. According to its own information, the Criminal Court is conducting investigations under the same charge against Hamas fighters. Investigations into violence by Israeli settlers in the West Bank are also ongoing.

Benjamin Netanyahu