The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Karim Khan, announced on May 20 that he requested arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and three leaders of the Palestinian Hamas movement, as well as the leader, Yahya Sinwar, for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.

After more than 200 days of war between Israel and Hamas, the prosecutor of the court based in The Hague indicated in a statement that he processed arrest warrants for Netanyahu and his Defense Minister, Yoav Gallant, for “deliberately starving civilians” , “intentional homicide” and “extermination and/or murder” in the Gaza Strip.

“The aforementioned crimes against humanity (…) are part of a widespread and systematic attack against the Palestinian civilian population in compliance with the policy of an organization. According to our findings, some of these crimes are still being committed,” Khan said.

The charges against Hamas leaders, including Yahya Sinwar, include “extermination”, “rape and other forms of sexual violence” and “hostage-taking as a war crime” in Israel and Gaza.

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The request also affects Mohamed Al Masri, better known as “al Deif”, head of the Ezedin al Qasam brigades, the military wing of Hamas, and Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Palestinian movement’s political bureau.

“We affirm that the crimes against humanity referred to in the requests are part of a widespread and systematic attack carried out by Hamas and other armed groups in compliance with the policy of an organization,” the prosecutor said in the statement.

What is the ICC and what is its function?

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is a permanent international court of justice, created by the Rome Statute on July 17, 1998. Its mission is to try individuals accused of committing the most serious crimes affecting the international community, including genocide. , war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of aggression.

The ICC is independent and is not part of the United Nations (UN); however, It was established through a treaty negotiated within the UN and has maintained a cooperation agreement with it since 2004.

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The relationship between the ICC and the UN is governed by the principle of complementarity, meaning that the ICC acts when national judicial systems are unable or unwilling to carry out investigations or prosecutions.

Besides, The ICC can exercise its jurisdiction if a case is referred by the UN Security Council or if a State party to the Rome Statute requests it.


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