to demonstrate that “all lives are equal”, ICC prosecutor requests arrest warrants against both Netanyahu and Hamas leaders

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant during a press conference in Tel Aviv on October 28, 2023. POOL / VIA REUTERS

In the most sensitive case in the history of the International Criminal Court (ICC), prosecutor Karim Khan requested, Monday, May 20, arrest warrants against the leaders of Hamas and those of Israel for crimes against humanity committed during the attack of October 7, 2023 and the war in Gaza that it sparked. Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, and Yahya Sinouar, the leader of the Islamist movement in Gaza, brought together under the same charge: this equivalence, posed by two requests announced together, is repulsive in Israel. It raises hope among Palestinians that increased international pressure will end the war, and a feeling of gratitude.

Prosecutor Khan asked ICC judges to validate two warrants against Mr. Netanyahu and his defense minister, Yoav Gallant, for crimes against humanity for extermination, murder, persecution and other inhumane acts, as well as for war crimes for murder, physical and mental harm, cruel treatment, intentional attacks against civilians and willful starvation of a population.

In his other request, the prosecutor requests warrants against the leader of Hamas in Gaza, Yahya Sinouar, against the military leader of the movement, Mohammed Deif, and the head of its political bureau, Ismaïl Haniyeh, for crimes against humanity and crimes of war, for extermination, murder, hostage-taking, torture, cruel treatment, attack on personal dignity and rape and sexual violence against people in captivity.

Mr. Khan relies in particular on “statements from victims who survived the attacks” of October 7, 2023, during which nearly 1,200 Israelis were killed. And on those of former hostages and direct witnesses of the attacks. “I would like to thank the victims who survived the attacks of October 7 as well as their families for the courage they displayed in agreeing to tell the story of their experience” to investigators, greeted the prosecutor in his press release.

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The judges who have yet to accept this request – three women – could rule “within two to three weeks”, the Court is told. They will have to analyze the evidence filed by the prosecutor: photos, authenticated videos, satellite images, testimonies, expert opinions, speeches, etc. Already threatened with sanctions by members of the American Congress, Karim Khan once again promised that he would not hesitate to launch proceedings for obstruction of justice in the event of pressure against the Court.

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