(Twitter Screenshot)
Benjamin Netanyahu and Yoav Gallant

Israel has denied committing war crimes in the Gaza conflict, noting it has gone to great lengths to try to prevent civilian casualties.

By The Algemeiner

The International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor’s office said on Monday it’s seeking arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his defense chief, and three Hamas terrorist leaders for alleged war crimes related to the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel and the ensuing war in Gaza.

The unprecedented move marks the first time the ICC has targeted the top leader of a close ally of the United States. Neither the US nor Israel is a member of the ICC. Palestinian territories were given membership in 2015.

Karim Khan, the court’s chief prosecutor, said in a statement that his office had reason to believe all five men — Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Al-Masri, and Ismail Haniyeh — “bear criminal responsibility” for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Israel or the Gaza Strip.

Israel has denied committing war crimes in the Gaza conflict, noting it has gone to great lengths to try to prevent civilian casualties. Hamas terrorists embed themselves within Gaza’s civilian population and commandeer civilian facilities like hospitals, schools, and mosques to run operations and direct attacks against Israel.

Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group that rules Gaza, launched the current war with its Oct. 7 invasion of the Jewish state. During their rampage across southern Israel, Hamas-led Palestinian terrorists murdered 1,200 people and kidnapped over 250 others as hostages.

Israel responded to the surprise onslaught with a military campaign in Gaza aimed at freeing the hostages and incapacitating Hamas to the point that it can longer pose a major threat to the Israeli people. Hamas leaders have pledged to carry out massacres against Israel like the one on Oct. 7 “again and again.”

The ICC’s decision places Netanyahu and Gallant alongside figures such as Russian President Vladimir Putin for whom the ICC has issued an arrest warrant.

Netanyahu had previously characterized the possibility of an ICC arrest warrant as an “unprecedented antisemitic hate crime.” Some Republicans in the US Senate responded with threats to impose sanctions on the ICC if it moved forward with the arrest warrants.

When asked during a CNN interview on Monday about Netanyahu’s objections, Khan responded by saying, “Nobody is above the law,” and encouraged Israel to challenge the ICC’s jurisdiction before its judges if it disagrees with the proceedings.

Several Israeli ministers lambasted the prosecutor’s moves.

“Drawing parallels between the leaders of a democratic country determined to defend itself from despicable terror to leaders of a blood-thirsty terror organization [Hamas] is a deep distortion of justice and blatant moral bankruptcy,” Israeli war cabinet minister Benny Gantz said.

However, a senior Hamas official sought to portray Israel as the aggressor, telling Reuters that the ICC’s decision “equates the victim with the executioner.”

The charges against the Hamas leaders include “extermination,” “murder,” “torture,” “taking hostages,” and “rape and other acts of sexual violence,” among others.

“The world was shocked on the 7th of October when people were ripped from their bedrooms, from their homes, from the different kibbutzim in Israel,” Khan said on CNN on Monday.

Meanwhile, the charges against Netanyahu and Gantz include “extermination,” “starvation of civilians,” and “intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population,” among others.

The charges did not note that Israel has allowed a significant amount of humanitarian aid into Gaza, or that Israeli forces regularly warn civilians to leave before attacking Hamas targets in a given area.

A panel of ICC pre-trial judges will now consider Khan’s application for the arrest warrants and whether there is sufficient evidence to actually issue them.