Netanyahu Fears International Criminal Court Warrant

April 24th, 2024 - by James Reynolds / London Daily Mail

“Israel fears the ICC is preparing an arrest warrant for Benjamin Netanyahu for breaking international laws in Gaza”

James Reynolds / London Daily Mail

(April 21, 2024) — The Israeli government called an ’emergency discussion’ over concerns the International Criminal Court could be preparing an arrest warrant for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders over alleged breaches of international law in Gaza, it has been revealed.

Three ministers and several government legal experts met at the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday to discuss how they would manage arrest warrants after reportedly receiving information such orders could be issued imminently, according to Israeli Channel 12.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz, Justice Minister Yariv Levin and Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer reportedly met and decided to seek support from international diplomatic circles in an effort to foil possible action against Netanyahu.

Numerous bodies have alleged Israel has breached international law in its retaliatory campaign in Gaza since the Hamas-led October 7 attacks.

Israel reportedly fears that arrest warrants would be brought on the basis of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, where rights groups and international bodies continue to warn of impending ‘man made famine’, alleging deliberate restrictions of aid into the Strip.

Israel faces a number of allegations pertaining to breaches of international law over its conduct in Gaza since October 2023.

In February, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights published a damning report calling for accountability for both Israel and various Palestinian militant groups over alleged violations of international law.

These covered the period November 1, 2022 to October 31, 2023, but also referenced historical allegations of rights violations.

‘For over 56 years, the Occupied Palestinian Territory – the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza – has remained under occupation by Israel, affecting all rights of Palestinians, including the right to self-determination,’ the report read.

‘The human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory drastically worsened during the reporting period. There was an escalation of the use of lethal force in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and May 2023 also saw an escalation of hostilities in Gaza.’

The British government in December called on Israel to ‘take immediate and concrete steps to tackle record high settler violence in the occupied West Bank’.

The UN High Commissioner’s report suggested Israel had committed war crimes and violations of international law, including the ‘wanton destruction of civilian property’, collective punishment, punitive and deliberate sieges, ‘deprivation of essential services’ such as water and aid, and forced displacement.

It also noted the deaths of 30 Israelis in the West Bank and one Israeli woman killed in Israel by a ‘rocket launched from Gaza’ prior to October 7.

The report claimed the human rights situation in the West Bank was deteriorating prior to October 7, citing the use of ‘settler violence to facilitate de facto annexation’ of the territory.

Earlier this year, South Africa also filed an application alleging that Israel’s conduct in Gaza were genocidal in character.

The application urged the International Court of Justice to order ‘provisional measures’ to protect Palestinians in Gaza, including the cessation of military attacks that ‘constitute or give rise to violations of the Genocide Convention’.

The key request, the cessation of hostilities altogether, was not granted, but the Court did order Israel to prevent and punish direct and public incitement to genocide.

Catastrophic hunger in Gaza

The Genocide Convention defines genocide by acts ‘committed with intent to destroy, in whole or part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group’.

Genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, attempt to commit genocide and complicity in genocide are all punishable, according to the Convention.

Responding to the ICJ hearings, Amnesty International warned at the time of the ‘staggering scale of death and destruction’ in Gaza, as well as the ‘appalling spike in dehumanising and racist rhetoric against Palestinians by certain Israeli government and military officials’.

‘This, coupled with Israel’s imposition of an illegal siege in Gaza, which has cut off or severely restricted the civilian population’s access to water, food, medical assistance and fuel, is inflicting unfathomable levels of suffering and puts the survival of those within Gaza at risk,’ the organisation said in a statement.

Last month, the chair of the foreign affairs select committee, Alicia Kearns MP, suggested the British government had received advice from its lawyers stating that Israel had broken international humanitarian law, according to a leaked recording obtained by the Observer.

Ms Kearns reiterated the claims in a statement, saying: ‘I remain convinced the government has completed its updated assessment on whether Israel is demonstrating a commitment to international humanitarian law, and that it has concluded that Israel is not demonstrating this commitment, which is the legal determination it has to make.

‘Transparency at this point is paramount, not least to uphold the international rules-based order.’

Legal experts warned that receiving such legal advice would mean the UK would have to immediately cease all arms sales to Israel, as it would otherwise be seen as aiding and abetting war crimes – itself implicating the country.

This week, Al Jazeera reported that nine bodies had been found buried in an apparent mass grave near Al Shifa hospital in Gaza.

The bodies had not fully decomposed, suggesting they had been killed recently.

Some were found with medical bandages and catheters still attached to them.

Officials stopped digging after finding nine over fears Israeli drones were hovering above them.

Hamas said in a statement: ‘The series of ongoing violations, including the discovery of mass graves in al-Shifa, cases of execution, and the hundreds of bodies that remain under the rubble… are clear and well-documented war crimes.’

Hamas has itself been accused of committing numerous war crimes while the de facto authority in Gaza.

Human Rights Watch cited the role of Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups in their devastating assault on Israel on October 7.

Some 1,170 Israelis – many of whom were civilians – were killed when Hamas swept into southern Israel and began indiscriminately targeting people.

Israeli rape centres have since compiled reports of rape and sexual abuse committed by armed assailants last year.

A chilling report from the Association of Rape Crisis Centers was presented to the UN Special Envoy on Sexual Violence in Conflict Areas in February, who visited Israel  to hear testimonies of sexual abuse.

An overview of the findings states: ‘Hamas terrorists employed sadistic practices aimed at intensifying the degree of humiliation and terror inherent in sexual violence.

‘Many of the bodies of sexual crime victims were found bound and shackled.

‘The genitals of both women and men were brutally mutilated, and sometimes weapons were inserted into them. The terrorists did not stop at shooting, they also cut and mutilated sexual organs and other body parts with knives.’

The testimonies included claims Hamas gunmen repeatedly stabbed an injured woman while they raped her; that victims had nails, grenades and knives inserted into their sexual organs; and how survivors fleeing the festival witnessed ‘girls whose pelvises were simply broken from being raped so much’.

Yoni Saadon, a survivor who witnessed the rape of a young woman enduring severe violence, recounted a victim crying out: ‘Stop it – already I’m going to die anyway from what you are doing, just kill me!’

The witness said ‘when they finished they were laughing and the last one shot her in the head’.

One witness said she saw a young woman with a back injury, her trousers pulled down below her knees, being raped by one terrorist as another ‘pulled from her hair’.

‘Each time the woman resisted, the terrorist stabbed her in the back.’

In another case, she said she saw how while one terrorist was raping a woman, another cut into her and mutilated her body

Some 250 people were taken hostage during Hamas’ incursion into Israel in October last year.

Many have returned alleging poor treatment and widespread sexual abuse in captivity.

Israel and Gaza have not managed to secure a prisoner exchange since November, when around 100 people were returned in exchange for a lull in the conflict and the return of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.

Protests continued to mount against Netanyahu this week from those pleading for the immediate release of hostages and cessation of conflict in the Gaza Strip.

Some 33,900 people have been killed in Gaza since the hostilities began in October, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza.

The ministry does not distinguish between military and civilian casualties.

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