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Netanyahu, Hamas Leaders Reject Arrest Warrant Request by ICC

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The prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced on Monday that he had asked for arrest warrants for three Hamas leaders, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and his defense minister, due to suspected war crimes.

Following over seven months of fighting in Gaza, ICC prosecutor Karim Khan stated in a statement that he had good reason to think the five individuals “bear criminal responsibility” for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Hamas leaders against whom Khan requested arrest warrants are, Mohammed Al-Masri, the leader of Hamas’ military arm and a well-known figurehead, Yahya Sinwar, and Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas’ Political Bureau.

Both Israel and Hamas, who are currently fighting fiercely in the Gaza Strip, vehemently opposed attempts on Monday to have their leaders detained for war crimes in front of an international court.

Hamas, the militant Palestinian organization, declared that it “strongly condemns” the proposal, while Israel denounced the demand as a “historical disgrace” that targets Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

According to Khan, Israel is accused of committing crimes against humanity as part of “a widespread and systematic attack against the Palestinian civilian population pursuant to State policy.” Netanyahu rejected “with disgust, The Hague prosecutor’s comparison between democratic Israel and the mass murderers of Hamas.”

United States, Israel’s strongest friend, joined the censure, but France declared that it was in favor of the court’s autonomy and its “fight against impunity”.

Whether the arrest warrants are supported by the evidence will be decided by a panel of pre-trial judges. However, the US and Israel have blocked the court’s probe into the Gaza conflict, and it lacks the authority to execute such warrants.

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