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Israel braces for potential ICC arrest warrants against Netanyahu, Gallant

June 24, 2024 at 2:28 pm

A general view of the International Criminal Court (ICC) building in The Hague, Netherlands on April 30, 2024. [Selman Aksünger – Anadolu Agency]

Israel is preparing for potential arrest warrants by the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Defence Minister, Yoav Gallant, Anadolu Agency reports.

On Sunday, the Hague-based Court reposted a notice in Hebrew, Arabic and English explaining its procedures.

“After gathering evidence and identifying a suspect, the Prosecution requests ICC judges to issue: an arrest warrant, which national authorities enforce; or a summons to appear, where suspects appear voluntarily,” the notice reads.

This marks the fourth time since the beginning of June that the ICC has shared this post on its social media accounts.

On 20 May, ICC Prosecutor, Karim Khan, announced that he had requested arrest warrants for Netanyahu and Gallant on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes in the Gaza Strip.

No official decision from the Court has been made as of yet.

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While Israel has condemned and rejected the Prosecutor’s request, it remains unclear how Tel Aviv will respond if arrest warrants are issued.

“Discussions are underway in Israel regarding a defence strategy for Netanyahu, Gallant, and the state of Israel in case the ICC issues arrest warrants,” the Israeli public broadcaster, KAN, said.

“The preparations aim to ensure that Israel is ready if such a decision is made by the ICC judges,” it added.

KAN said it remains unclear whether Israel will present a legal defence at The Hague as Tel Aviv does not recognise the Court’s authority.

“Israel prefers to prepare for the worst-case scenario, which includes potential arrest orders, and is thus discussing a possible defence stance against such a decision,” it added.

Israel is not a member of the ICC, whereas Palestine was accepted as a member in 2015.

The ICC, established in 2002, is an independent international body not affiliated with the United Nations or any other international institution, and its decisions are binding.

Despite Israel’s rejection of the ICC’s jurisdiction, the Court’s authority extends to the Palestinian Territories occupied since 1967, allowing it to prosecute Israeli officials accused of committing crimes in these areas.

In a 21 May interview with CNN, ICC Prosecutor, Khan, revealed that he had received threats while investigating Israeli officials.

Current and former Israeli officials have rejected Khan’s actions, citing their non-recognition of the Court’s jurisdiction. They have accused the ICC of anti-Semitism and called on Tel Aviv’s allies to defund and dismantle the Court.

Flouting a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire, Israel has faced international condemnation amid its continued brutal offensive on Gaza since a 7 October, 2023 attack by Hamas.

Nearly 37,600 Palestinians have since been killed in Gaza, most of them women and children, and over 86,000 others injured, according to local health authorities.

More than eight months into the Israeli war, vast tracts of Gaza lie in ruins amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water and medicine.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which in its latest ruling has ordered Tel Aviv to immediately halt its operation in the southern city of Rafah, where over a million Palestinians had sought refuge from the war before it was invaded on 6 May.

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