Netanyahu pledges Gaza offensive despite ICC warrant bid

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that a call for arrest warrants by the International Criminal Court (ICC) against him and his Defense Minister Yoav Gallant will not tie Israel’s hands in its war on Gaza.

In video statement, Netanyahu said the ICC’s warrants are directed against all of Israel and reiterated that the court’s move was antisemitic.

He harshly attacked ICC Public Prosecutor Karim Khan, claiming that seeking to issue arrest warrants against him and Gallant along with three leaders from the Palestinian group Hamas is “an utter distortion of reality.”

Several Israeli officials including Foreign Minister Israel Katz slammed Khan’s announcement made earlier in the day, with all of them accusing the ICC of antisemitism.

Hamas earlier called on Khan to cancel the request for arrest warrants against three of its leaders.

In a statement, it said the ICC’s arrest warrants came late after seven months “during which the Israeli occupation committed thousands of crimes against Palestinian civilians, including children, women, doctors and journalists.”

Khan applied for arrest warrants against Netanyahu, Gallant and Hamas leaders including political chief Ismail Haniyeh, Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar and military chief Mohammed Deif.

Khan said he has reasonable grounds to believe that Netanyahu and Gallant bear criminal responsibility for “war crimes and crimes against humanity” committed on Palestinian territories, specifically in the Gaza Strip, from at least Oct. 8 last year.

He added that the arrest warrants for the three Hamas leaders are for “war crimes and crimes against humanity” committed in Israel and the Gaza Strip “from at least 7 October 2023.”

Israel has continued its brutal offensive on the Gaza Strip despite a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire in the enclave.

More than 35,500 Palestinians have since been killed, the vast majority of whom have been women and children, and over 79,600 others injured since last October following an attack by Hamas.

More than seven months into the Israeli war, vast swathes of Gaza lay in ruins amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water and medicine.

Israel is accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice, which has ordered it to ensure that its forces do not commit acts of genocide and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

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