Netanyahu denounces possible ICC warrants against Israeli leaders as ‘indelible stain’ on justice

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday warned the International Criminal Court against potentially issuing arrest warrants against Israeli leaders and commanders as a result of its investigation into the war in Gaza, saying that doing so would leave an “indelible stain” on the concept of international justice and law.

Netanyahu’s comments, in a televised speech for the opening ceremony of Holocaust Remembrance Day, appeared to be a reference to Israeli media reports that several government officials, including the prime minister, are concerned that such arrest warrants might be imminent.

While the ICC, based in The Hague, has declined to comment about any arrest warrants that could come out of its investigation into the war in Gaza, rumors have swirled in the Israeli press in recent weeks that the court could target Netanyahu and other key Israeli officials.

In his speech Sunday, Netanyahu emphasized that the ICC was “founded as a consequence of the Holocaust” and should not attempt to “undermine” Israel’s fundamental right to self-defense.

He argued that any arrests would restrict Israel’s ability to defend itself, calling it a “distortion of justice and history.”

“Even if Israel is forced to stand alone, we will stand alone, and we will continue to strike our enemies powerfully until victory. Even if we have to stand alone, we will continue to fight human evil,” Netanyahu added.

In a post on X in February, ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan said his office has “an ongoing and active investigation into the situation in the State of Palestine,” adding that his office was “actively investigating any crimes allegedly committed. Those who are in breach of the law will be held accountable.”

Israel is not a member of the ICC and rejects the court’s jurisdiction. That has not previously stopped the court from investigating its actions in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Fatou Bensouda, a former ICC prosecutor, spent five years conducting a “painstaking preliminary examination” in which she concluded she was “satisfied that war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.” But no arrests were made, and Bensouda left office in 2021.

Since the Hamas terror attack on Israel on October 7 that left 1,200 people dead and some 250 taken hostage, both Hamas and Israel have been accused of war crimes. Since Israel launched its devastating military response to that attack, more than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza.

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