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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Netanyahu accuses ICC of anti-Semitism

The International Criminal Court won’t stop Israel from achieving “total victory” in Gaza, the prime minister has said

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused the International Criminal Court (ICC) of setting a “dangerous precedent” after its top prosecutor, Karim Khan, requested arrest warrants for the Israeli leader and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant over alleged war crimes against Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

In a statement on Monday evening, Netanyahu branded the decision by the ICC prosecutor “absurd,” claiming that it “undermines every democracy’s right to defend itself.” He also insisted that the court has “no jurisdiction over Israel.”

Read more: ICC seeks arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders

“Mr. Khan’s abuse of this authority will turn the ICC into nothing more than a farce. He’s doing something else. He is callously pouring gasoline on the fires of anti-Semitism that are raging across the world. Through this incendiary decision, Mr. Khan takes his place among the great antisemites in modern times,” Netanyahu said.

The prime minister went on to claim that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is “the most moral army in the world” fighting a “just war that is unparalleled,” according to the Hebrew version of the statement. Israel launched its military campaign in Gaza in response to a surprise Hamas attack on its border regions in October 2023, which claimed the lives of some 1,200 people and saw around 250 taken hostage.

Read more: ICC seeks arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders

West Jerusalem’s response involved heavy bombardments of Gaza followed by a large-scale ground operation, which is ongoing. According to data from the Palestinian enclave’s health ministry, 35,456 have been killed and 79,476 others wounded as a result of Israel’s airstrikes and ground offensive.

Netanyahu said he rejected “with disgust” what he described as Khan’s attempt to create a “twisted and false moral equivalence” between the Israeli government and the “genocidal terrorist organization” Hamas. Nothing would stop Israel from achieving “total victory” in Gaza, he vowed.

Along with Netanyahu and Gallant, Khan is also seeking arrest warrants for three top Hamas officials, including the Palestinian armed group’s leader, Yahya Sinwar, the commander of its military wing – al-Qassam Brigades – Mohammed Diab Ibrahim al-Masri, and the chief of the Hamas political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh.

Israel is not a member of the ICC and does not recognize its jurisdiction, but the State of Palestine joined the organization in 2015. If warrants against Netanyahu and Hamas leaders are issued, any of the court’s 124 member states will be obliged to arrest them if they set foot on their territory.