ICC's Arrest Warrants for Israeli Leaders Spark Outrage in Israel

The International Criminal Court's issuance of arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Galant has provoked fierce backlash from Israeli leaders, who denounce the move as unjust and anti-Semitic

by Sededin Dedovic
ICC's Arrest Warrants for Israeli Leaders Spark Outrage in Israel
© Sean Gallup / Getty Images

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has applied for arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas's leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, for war crimes. Karim Khan KC said there were reasonable grounds to believe that both men bore criminal responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity from the day of Hamas's attack on Israel on 7 October onwards, BBC reports.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog stated today that the decision by the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to seek arrest warrants for Israeli officials over the war in Gaza is beyond outrageous and encourages terrorists worldwide.

Herzog commented on social media that this decision highlights the extent to which the international judicial system is at risk of collapse. “Made in bad faith, this unilateral move represents a political step that encourages terrorists worldwide and violates all fundamental court rules in accordance with the principle of complementarity and other legal norms,” the President of Israel wrote.

He also remarked that Hamas leaders are oppressive dictators responsible for initiating mass murder, rape, and kidnappings, and that any attempt to draw a parallel between these "horrific terrorists and the democratically elected government of Israel, which acts to fulfill its duty to defend and protect its citizens fully in accordance with international law, is exaggerated and unacceptable." Herzog wrote that he expects this step to be condemned and rejected by all leaders of the free world.

Isac Herzog© Kevin Dietsch / Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant are accused of genocide, starvation as a method of warfare, denial of humanitarian aid, and deliberately targeting civilians.

The ICC also named Hamas officials and leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Yahya Sinwar as wanted for crimes of genocide, murder, hostage-taking, rape, sexual assault, and torture. The President of the Israeli Parliament (Knesset), Amir Ohana, stated in the opening of the first summer session that the International Criminal Court in The Hague has proven to the world that it is not legitimate.

He considers the scandalous decision to place the State of Israel, regardless of its leadership, alongside "the murderous terrorist organization Hamas, which has kidnapped, tortured, burned, massacred, and killed Jews." The ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan's decision denies Israel the right to self-defense, according to the Knesset President, Israeli media reported.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz announced today that the ICC arrest warrants for Israeli officials are an "unrestrained direct attack" on the victims of the massacre committed by Hamas on October 7 and the hostages still held in Gaza.

“While the killers and rapists of Hamas commit crimes against humanity against our brothers and sisters, the (ICC) prosecutor in the same breath mentions the Prime Minister and Defense Minister of Israel and the heinous monsters of Hamas, akin to Nazis,” Katz stated, adding that this historic disgrace will forever be remembered.

He said he instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to focus on “fighting against the decision whose primary intent is to bind Israel's hands and prevent it from exercising its right to self-defense”. Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid rejected today the decision of the ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan in The Hague to issue arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Joav Gallant, as well as the leaders of the Palestinian extremist movement Hamas, stating that Israel will not accept any comparison with Hamas.

“It is not possible to issue arrest warrants against Netanyahu, Sinwar, and Deif. Such comparisons are unacceptable and unforgivable,” said Lapid, labeling the decision a "horrible political error." Khan has requested arrest warrants for three Hamas leaders: Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif, and Ismail Haniyeh.

Lapid said he expects the American administration to condemn the arrest warrants and expressed confidence that it will stand by Israel. Israeli ultra-right ministers Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir accused the ICC Chief Prosecutor of anti-Semitism following the request for arrest warrants for Netanyahu and Gallant.

“We have not seen such hypocrisy and hatred against Jews, like that shown by the court in The Hague, since Nazi propaganda. The Nazis also spoke in the name of morality, and there was nothing there except anti-Semitism,” Smotrich said, offering support to Netanyahu and Gallant, assessing that the charges against them are "charges against all of us." Ben-Gvir called on Israel to cease participation in court processes in The Hague and said that the Prime Minister and Defense Minister should ignore the "anti-Semitic prosecutor and order the reinforcement of attacks on Hamas until it is completely destroyed." An unnamed Israeli official stated to local media that the slander against Israel crossed the line with the Chief Prosecutor's efforts against the only democracy in the Middle East, and it will not prevent Israel from defending itself and achieving all war objectives. He announced that Netanyahu will later release a video statement.

Benjamin Netanyahu