ICC seeks arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders

The International Criminal Court announced on Monday that it intends to seek arrest warrants for senior Hamas and Israeli leaders for the Oct. 7 attack and subsequent conflict.

The top Hamas officials the ICC will seek warrants for are Yahya Sinwar, the head of Hamas in Gaza, Mohammed Deif, the head of the military, and Ismail Haniyeh, the head of its political bureau. It is also looking to obtain arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

A panel of ICC judges will now consider chief prosecutor Karim Khan’s application for the arrest warrants.

Khan, in a statement, said his office has “reasonable grounds” to believe the Hamas leaders “bear criminal responsibility for” war crimes and crimes against humanity. They are facing charges of extermination as a crime against humanity, murder as a crime against humanity, taking hostages as a war crime, rape and other acts of sexual violence, torture, other inhumane acts, cruel treatment, and outrages upon personal dignity.

“My Office also submits there are reasonable grounds to believe that hostages taken from Israel have been kept in inhumane conditions, and that some have been subject to sexual violence, including rape, while being held in captivity. We have reached that conclusion based on medical records, contemporaneous video and documentary evidence, and interviews with victims and survivors,” the statement continued.

Netanyahu and Gallant are accused of starvation of civilians, willfully causing great suffering, willful killing, intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population, and extermination.

Khan warned that his office could seek more arrest warrants if they determine it’s necessary.

Israeli leaders have denied allegations they are committing war crimes, though all of Gaza’s 2.2 million residents are facing acute food insecurity due to the war.

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Both U.S. and Israeli leaders condemned possible ICC arrest warrants against Israeli leaders last month amid reports that warrants would be handed down. Neither country is a member of the ICC.

“The possibility that they will issue arrest warrants for war crimes against IDF commanders and state leaders, this possibility is a scandal on a historic scale,” Netanyahu said last month. U.S. National Security Council coordinator John Kirby said around the same time, “We don’t believe the ICC has any jurisdiction here. We don’t support this investigation.”

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