Israeli leaders fear ICC arrest warrants this week for Gaza atrocities

Reports suggest focus on the prime minister, defence minister and military chief of staff

Israel and the US are reportedly extremely concerned that the arrest warrants could come this week. Reuters
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Alarm is mounting in Israel its most senior politicians could be issued arrest warrants by the International Criminal Court as early as this week over humanitarian crimes committed in Gaza.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and Israeli military Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi are believed to be the officials that would be served with warrants, according to reports.

Israel and its allies are frantically trying to get the ICC to delay the move, which would be one of the severest diplomatic blows to Israel since the beginning of the Gaza War.

The main part of the allegation is that Israel “deliberately starved Palestinians in Gaza,” a source told The Times of Israel.

For months Israel has faced mounting accusations that its forces deliberately target civilians in Gaza and preventing humanitarian aid from entering the strip, which is battling a critical shortage of food and medicine.

There are also concerns about rights abuses in the occupied West Bank and Israeli detention facilities.

“There is nothing more twisted than trying to prevent Israel from defending itself against a murderous enemy that openly calls for the destruction of Israel," Foreign Minister Israel Katz said in a statement on Sunday.

He said his country abides by “all the laws of war”.

Mr Katz previously called for Gaza’s water supply to be cut as a punishment for the October 7 attack.

ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan said in October that the court could also issue warrants for war crimes that Hamas committed in Israel.

Israel does not recognise the authority of the ICC, but arrest warrants would still mean that the 124 countries that are signed up would be obliged to arrest Israeli officials if they entered their territory.

States that recognise the court’s authority include the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Germany, all major allies. The US, Israel’s most important ally, does not.

Mr Netanyahu said on Friday that ICC action would not change Israel’s plans in the war.

“While decisions made by the court in The Hague will not affect Israel’s actions, they will set a dangerous precedent,” he said in a statement on Telegram.

Fears of the arrest warrants come amid mounting signs that Israel is about to launch an operation in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, which many countries and international agencies say would lead to a catastrophic humanitarian disaster.

Israel is already fending off a genocide case at the ICJ, a UN court that looks at disputes between nations.

Updated: April 29, 2024, 11:30 AM