ICC prosecutor’s request for arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders triggers global reaction

Following the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor’s decision to seek arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and three Hamas leaders, global leaders began voicing their opinions on the move.

ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan accused Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant of using starvation as a method of warfare and targeting civilians. Hamas leaders Yehya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif, and Ismail Haniyeh are also accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In a statement, US President Joe Biden supported the Israeli leader and said: “Let me be clear: Whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence – none – between Israel and Hamas.”

The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken said the US “fundamentally rejects” the decision. “We reject the Prosecutor’s equivalence of Israel with Hamas,” the statement said. “It is shameful.”

Through his X account, Netanyahu published a video in which he rejected “with disgust” the prosecutor’s comparison of his government with Hamas. 

“With what audacity do you compare Hamas that murdered, burned, butchered, decapitated, raped and kidnapped our brothers and sisters, and the IDF soldiers fighting a just war,” Netanyahu said.

Other Israeli officials such as Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz condemned what they call “a comparison between their own and Hamas”. 

“Any attempt to draw parallels between these atrocious terrorists and a democratically elected government of Israel – working to fullfil its duty to defend and protect its citizens entirely in adherence to the principles of international law – is outrageous and cannot be accepted by anyone,” Herzog said. 

Hamas also denounced the ICC prosecutor’s actions, saying the request to arrest its leaders “equates the victim with the executioner.” 

“Hamas strongly denounces the attempts of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to equate the victim with the executioner by issuing arrest warrants against a number of Palestinian resistance leaders,” Hamas said. 

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said that while he respected the independence of the ICC, it is “non-comprehensible” that the leaders of Hamas were mentioned as equals as the “democratically elected representatives” of Israel. 

A spokesperson for UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “This action is not helpful in relation to reaching a pause in the fighting, getting hostages out or getting humanitarian aid in.”

“The UK, as with other countries, does not yet recognise Palestine as a state and Israel is not a state party to the Rome Statute.” 

Ireland’s minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence, Micheál Martin defended the ICC and condemned the threats against the court.

South Africa also welcomed the news and supported the chief prosecutor.

“The law must be applied equally to all in order to uphold the international rule of law, ensure accountability for those that commit heinous crimes and protect the rights of victims,” a statement from the office of President Cyril Ramaphosa read.

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