ICC seeks arrest warrants for Israeli PM as Gaza war continues

ICC seeks arrest warrants for Israeli PM as Gaza war continues
The ICC's head, Karim Khan, said he believes Benjamin Netanyahu, Yoav Gallant and three Hamas leaders are guilty of war crimes related to the Gaza war.
17 min read
20 May, 2024

The International Criminal Court prosecutor's office said on Monday it had requested arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his defence chief and three Hamas leaders for alleged war crimes.

Prosecutor Karim Khan's office said it suspected all five - Netanyahu, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Al-Masri and Ismail Haniyeh - bore criminal responsibility for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Israel or the Gaza Strip.

The ICC's decision "equates the victim with the executioner", a senior Hamas official told Reuters.

While Israel continues its bombardment of Gaza, with over 100 Palestinians being killed in the past 24 hours, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.



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Amal Clooney helped ICC weigh Gaza war crimes evidence
11:59 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Amal Clooney is one of the legal experts who recommended that the chief prosecutor of the world's top war crimes court seek arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and leaders of the militant Hamas group.

The human rights lawyer and wife of actor George Clooney wrote of her participation in a letter posted Monday on the website of the couple's Clooney Foundation for Justice . She said she and other experts in international law unanimously agreed to recommend that International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Karim Khan seek the warrants.

“I served on this Panel because I believe in the rule of law and the need to protect civilian lives,” Clooney wrote. “The law that protects civilians in war was developed more than 100 years ago and it applies in every country in the world regardless of the reasons for a conflict.”

Clooney had faced months of criticism for her silence on the war on Gaza, which has killed at least 35,562 people, with supporters of the Palestinian cause saying she should do more to highlight the injustices in Gaza.

Read more here.

UN: Not received aid in Gaza from US for two days
11:29 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The United Nations has not received any aid from a US-built pier in Gaza for the past two days after an incident on Saturday in which food was taken from 11 out of 16 trucks before they reached a UN warehouse, a UN official told Reuters on Monday.

"We need to make sure that the necessary security and logistical arrangements are in place before we proceed," said the UN official, speaking anonymously.

Aid deliveries began arriving at a US-built pier on Friday as Israel comes under growing global pressure to allow more supplies into the besieged coastal enclave, where it is at war on Gaza and famine looms.


Biden says Israel's Gaza offensive is 'not genocide'
11:06 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

President Joe Biden denied on Monday that Israel's offensive in Gaza was "genocide" as he defended the key US ally against a series of international legal cases.

"What's happening is not genocide, we reject that," he said, referring to a case in the International Court of Justice, the UN's top court in The Hague, which alleges that Israel's war is genocidal.

Biden also reiterated his condemnation of a request on Monday by the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, a separate tribunal, for an arrest warrant against Israeli leaders.

Italy: "Unacceptable" to equate Israeli government and Hamas
10:30 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Italy's foreign minister said on Monday it was "unacceptable" to equate the Israeli government with Hamas in his first comments on the International Criminal Court prosecutor's request for arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders.

"It seems to me truly singular, I would say unacceptable, to equate a government legitimately elected by the people in a democracy with a terrorist organisation that is the cause of everything that is happening in the Middle East," Minister Antonio Tajani told a TV show.


Satellite photos show Palestinians' quick exodus from Rafah
10:00 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Newly released satellite photos reviewed by the Associated Press show a large exodus of Palestinians from the southernmost Gaza city of Rafah earlier this month ahead of a feared Israeli ground invasion there.

The photos taken three days apart — first on 5 May and then on 8 May — show the change on the ground after Israel issued its first evacuation order for the city on 6 May.

They show that crowded tent camps in the city's central and northwest regions grew sparse within days of the order.

In the three days between the photos, at least half of the hundreds of tents cramming the area disappeared, likely from Palestinians packing up and departing.

Sullivan, Israeli officials discuss Rafah operation
9:29 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israeli officials briefed White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Monday about "new alternative approaches" to Rafah operations that aim to address US concerns, the White House said in a statement.

Sullivan told the officials that Israel and Egypt's talks on reopening the Rafah crossing are crucial to ensuring the flow of humanitarian assistance, according to the statement.

Sullivan met on Monday with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and opposition leader Yair Lapid, among other Israeli officials.


US to work with ICC on Ukraine despite Israel disagreement
9:00 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The United States will keep assisting the International Criminal Court (ICC) on its investigation into alleged war crimes in Ukraine despite denouncing the Hague-based prosecutors for an arrest bid against Israeli leaders.

"Regarding the question of whether or not we will continue to provide support to the ICC with respect to crimes that are committed in Ukraine, yes, we continue that work," Austin told reporters.

South Africa welcomes ICC prosecutor seeking arrest warrants
8:30 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

South Africa's presidency said on Monday it welcomed an announcement by the International Criminal Court's prosecutor saying he had requested arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his defence chief and three Hamas leaders over alleged war crimes.

South Africa took Israel to the ICJ to the court over its genocide of Palestinians


Donald Trump foreign policy advisers met with Netanyahu
8:00 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Three former US foreign policy officials in Donald Trump's administration met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other public figures in Israel on Monday, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

The delegation was comprised of Robert O'Brien, who served as Trump's fourth and final national security adviser, as well as former Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates John Rakolta and former Ambassador to Switzerland Ed McMullen, said the person, who requested anonymity as the trip's itinerary was not public.

In addition to Netanyahu, the delegation met Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid and several other Israeli officials, the person said.

Among the main goals of the trip was to obtain a better understanding of Israel's complex domestic political situation, said a person familiar with the visit.


Biden slams 'outrageous' ICC arrest bid for Israeli leaders
7:30 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

US President Joe Biden denounced an "outrageous" application by the International Criminal Court's prosecutor Monday for an arrest warrant for Israeli leaders, as Washington warned the move put truce talks at risk.

"The ICC prosecutor's application for arrest warrants against Israeli leaders is outrageous. And let me be clear: whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence -- none -- between Israel and Hamas," Biden said in a statement.

"We will always stand with Israel against threats to its security."

Biden did not comment on the warrant requests for Yahya Sinwar, the head of the Palestinian Hamas movement in Gaza, and Ismail Haniyeh, the movement's political chief.

Israel's Netanyahu rejects 'with disgust' ICC arrest bid
7:00 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday he rejects "with disgust" an application by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court for his arrest warrant over alleged war crimes in Gaza.

The prosecutor, Karim Khan, applied for arrest warrants against Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as top Hamas leaders, on suspicion of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

"I reject with disgust The Hague prosecutor's comparison between democratic Israel and the mass murderers of Hamas," Netanyahu said in a statement, referring to the city in the Netherlands where the court is based.

"With what audacity do you dare compare the monsters of Hamas to the soldiers of the IDF (Israeli army), the most moral army in the world?" Netanyahu said.

The prosecutor said he was seeking warrants against Netanyahu and Gallant for crimes including "wilful killing", "extermination and/or murder" and "starvation".

Gazans say Iran president Raisi brought them 'only ruin'
6:30 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Gazans on Monday spared little thought for Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi killed in a helicopter crash, saying he had failed to ease the suffering in the war-torn Palestinian territory.

Palestinian militant group Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip and receives financial and military support from Iran, paid tribute to Raisi's "support for the Palestinian resistance, and tireless efforts in solidarity" with Palestinians.

But Gazans in the central city of Deir al-Balah, an area which has been hit by Israeli bombardment since the 7 October, told AFP that Raisi's legacy in the Palestinian territory had been tarnished by inaction over their plight.

"He never supported us, never kept his promises, never called for a ceasefire, and never stood by us. He does not concern us at all," said Naji Khodeir, a resident of the city, which now hosts large numbers of Gazans fleeing fighting further south.

"He means nothing to us and nothing to Gaza," said Bilal Khodary, a displaced Gazan.

Raisi was confirmed dead on Monday after search and rescue teams found the remains of his helicopter which crashed Sunday in a fog-shrouded western mountain region of Iran.

US senator calls for sanctions against ICC, slams prosecutor
5:55 PM
The New Arab Staff

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham called for sanctions to be implemented against the International Criminal Court following its decision to pursue arrest warrants for Israel's prime minister, defence minister and three Hamas leaders.

Graham slammed the chief prosecutor Karim Khan, who he said was "drunk with self-importance" and accused him of damaging "the peace process".

"I will be issuing a detailed statement regarding the outrageous actions by the ICC against the State of Israel and I will feverishly work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle in both chambers to levy damning sanctions against the ICC," the Republican politician wrote in a lengthy post on X.

Last week, Graham urged Israel to use a nuclear bomb in Gaza as decisive action to end the war, comparing it to the US dropping atomic bombs on Japan in World War II.

ICC Israel war crime charges are 'easier to prove': analyst
5:44 PM
Al-Araby Al-Jadeed Arabic edition

Hassan Jabareen, director of Adalah Legal Centre, explained to The New Arab's Arabic language sister outlet Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that the ICC case is investigating "war crimes, not genocide".

"It seems that the ICC prosecutor will leave the genocide issue for the International Court of Justice to handle."

Israel is also facing a South African case in the International Court of Justice accusing it of genocidal acts in its war on Gaza, which Israel denies.

Jabareen said that charges of war crimes are "easier to prove against the Israelis because if there is a serious and fundamental impact on civilians and civilian places such as hospitals, universities, and schools, and on non-combatants in a disproportionate manner, these are considered war crimes.

"It is evident that the majority of the dead in Gaza are women, children, and non-combatants, something even Israel itself acknowledges, making it easy for the prosecutor to prove this."

Read more here.

'No doubt' some countries will obstruct ICC case: analyst
5:15 PM
The New Arab Staff

Sonia Boulos,  associate professor of  international human rights law at Antonio de Nebrija University said that the ICC's decision to seek arrest warrants for Israeli and Palestinian leaders has "legal, symbolic and political importance".

Speaking to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, The New Arab's Arabic-language sister edition, the professor said that even if arrest warrants are decreed it does not guarantee arrest.

The implementation of arrest warrants will "depend on the extent of [member] states' willingness to cooperate with the International Criminal Court".

Earlier on Monday, ICC chief prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan announced he was seeking arrest for Israeli's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, defence minister Yoav Gallant, and Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Ismail Haniyeh and Mohammed Deif.

In Boulos’ opinion, there is "no doubt that some countries will obstruct the possibility of executing arrest warrants against Israeli officials if they are issued." 

Pregnant women in Gaza facing grave health risks
4:30 PM
The New Arab Staff

Pregnant women in the Gaza Strip have been facing significant challenges since the war. 

In separate interviews with The New Arab, several women described how they are receive little medical care after Israeli attacks have put most hospitals and clinics out of service.

Jenin Al-Buhaisi, a 26-year-old Palestinian woman currently six months pregnant with her first child, fears for her life and the life of her child. "As soon as I wake up early in the morning, I touch her womb to feel the condition of my fetus, whether it is moving inside me or not," she told TNA. "All the time, I'm scared that I will miscarry at any moment."

Many of these women spoke of how they barely get the minimum amount of food and water, in addition to personal hygiene projects, adding that they regularly suffer from infections and sickness.

Read more from The New Arab's Gaza correspondent here.

Three-quarters of Gaza marked as Israeli 'evacuation zones'
3:36 PM
The New Arab Staff

An analysis of the Israeli military's evacuation orders shows that over 75 percent of Gaza's territory are allocated as 'evacuation zones' which have ordered Palestinians to flee the areas to make way for fighting.

As the war has continued, the land not invaded or attacked by the army has increasingly shrunk, a new investigation by BBC Arabic shows.

"The BBC's analysis shows the cumulative areas designated as evacuation zones amount to 281 sq km (108 sq miles). That is the equivalent of 77% of Gaza's territory," the report said.

Hamas 'strongly condemns' ICC prosecutor bid against leaders
3:04 PM
The New Arab Staff

Hamas said on Monday it "strongly condemns" a bid by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court for arrest warrants for the militant group's top leaders including Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar, political leader Ismail Haniyeh and Al Qassam Brigades commander Mohammed Deif.

"The Hamas movement strongly condemns the attempts of the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to equate the victim with the executioner by issuing arrest warrants against a number of Palestinian resistance leaders," the militant group said in a statement.

President Herzog: ICC prosecutor decision 'outrageous'
2:45 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israeli President Isaac Herzog said that the ICC prosecutor's decision on Monday to seek arrest warrants against the country's prime minister and defence minister was "beyond outrageous" and would embolden terrorists around the world.

"Any attempt to draw parallels between these atrocious terrorists and a democratically elected government of Israel - working to fulfil its duty to defend and protect its citizens entirely in adherence to the principles of international law – is outrageous and cannot be excepted by anyone," Herzog said.

Read more here.


Funeral rites for Raisi to start Tuesday: Iran state media
2:09 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Funeral rites for Iran's president Ebrahim Raisi and his entourage who died in a helicopter crash will start on Tuesday in the north-western city of Tabriz, state media reported.

"The funeral ceremonies for the president and his companions will take place Tuesday at 9:30 am local time (0600 GMT) in Tabriz", the official IRNA news agency said, adding that Raisi's body will later be taken to Tehran.

Read more about his death and world reactions here.

'Four Hezbollah fighters' dead in Israeli strikes in Lebanon
1:37 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

A source close to Hezbollah said four fighters were killed Monday in south Lebanon, with the Iran-backed group announcing two dead and a retaliatory attack, while Israel claimed strikes.

The source close to Hezbollah told AFP that "at least four Hezbollah fighters were killed in Israeli raids on two different sites in southern Lebanon", identifying the locations as Naqoura on the coast and Mais al-Jabal, a border village to the east.

The Shiite Muslim movement said two of its fighters, both from Naqoura, had been killed, without providing further details.

Earlier on Monday, the Israeli military said fighter jets struck "a Hezbollah terrorist cell" and a launch post in the Mais al-Jabal area, while Israeli army "artillery fired to remove a threat" in the Naqoura area.

Hezbollah said it launched a heavy rocket attack at an Israeli army barracks in the country's north "in retaliation" for the Naqura strike, while also announcing other attacks on Israeli positions.

Over 100 killed in past 24 hours in Gaza: health ministry
1:16 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The health ministry in Gaza said on Monday that at least 35,562 people have been killed in the territory during more than seven months of war between Israel and Palestinian militants.

The toll includes 106 deaths over the past 24 hours, a ministry statement said, adding that 79,652 people have been wounded in the Gaza Strip since the war began when Hamas militants attacked Israel on October 7.

Israeli strikes kill six pro-Iran fighters in Syria: monitor
1:05 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

A war monitor said at least six pro-Iran fighters were killed Monday in Israeli strikes in Syria near the Lebanese border, in an area where Lebanon's Hezbollah group holds sway.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said "Israeli strikes targeted two positions of pro-Iran groups in the Homs region", including "a Hezbollah site in the Qusayr area" near the border where "six Iran-backed fighters were killed".

The Observatory did not specify their nationalities.

A Hezbollah source told AFP that at least one fighter from the group was killed in Israeli strikes in the Qusayr area.

Israel rarely comments on individual strikes in Syria but has repeatedly said it will not allow its arch-enemy Iran to expand its presence there.

Israeli jets strike south Lebanon, Hezbollah strikes back
12:35 PM
The New Arab Staff

Hezbollah said on Monday it attacked two Israeli military sites including in the occupied Shebaa Farms and an outpost at Al Raheb.

In a statement on Telegram, the Iran-aligned group said that at around 1:30pm local time it "targeted the Zibdin barracks in the occupied Lebanese Shebaa Farms with artillery shells" in a direct hit.

In a separate statement, it said the group hit Israel's Al Raheb military site "with appropriate weapons and caused direct hits."

The Israeli military on Monday also said its air force took out a Hezbollah cell in Meiss El Jabal in southern Lebanon, and hit "Hezbollah weapons storage facility" near Naqoura.

ICC prosecutor seeks arrest warrants for Netanyahu, Hamas
12:04 PM
The New Arab Staff

The International Criminal Court (ICC) announced on Monday that it is seeking arrest warrants for Israel's prime minister, defence minister and three senior Hamas leaders.

The court's chief prosecutor Karim Khan said he was filing applications for arrest warrants for Benjamin Netanyahu and defence minister Yoav Gallant on grounds of persecution, death by starvation, denial of humanitarian supplies, and the deliberate targeting of civilians.

There has been speculation for weeks that the ICC would issue arrest warrants for senior Israeli figures, and marks the first time the court has targeted a close ally of the United States.

Khan has also filed applications for Yayha Sinwar, head of Hamas in Gaza, Mohammed Dief, commander of Al-Qassam Brigades and Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas political leader based in Doha based on actions from 7 October.

The charges against the Hamas leaders include extermination, murder, taking of hostages, rape and sexual assault in detention.

Read more here.


Gold stocks surge in wake of Iranian president death
11:45 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Gold prices touched a record high on Monday as world markets responded to the sudden death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi who was killed in a helicopter crash.

Spot gold rose 1 percent to $2,438.41 per ounce, as of 0852 GMT, after hitting a record high of $2,449.89 earlier in the session. US gold futures rose 1 percent to $2,442.50.

Analysts opined that gold's record high comes off not just the Iranian president's death but against a backdrop of global instability since October.

Village of Mahsa Amini light fireworks after Raisi death
11:11 AM
The New Arab Staff

Footage shared online shows fireworks being set off in the hometown of Saqqez in the Kurdish region of Iran in response to the death of President Ebrahim Raisi.

Raisi was considered a hard line ruler who has been a mainstay of the Iranian political and religious establishment for decades. Many Iranian diaspora have expressed a positive reaction to the death of the ruler, who was killed in a helicopter crash late on Sunday in East Azerbaijan province.

Mahsa Amini, 22, was killed while in police custody in Tehran after she was detained for wearing her hijab incorrectly in 2022. Her death sparked outrage and nationwide anti-government protests.

Iranian-American activist Mariam Memarsadeghi shared a video on X with the caption: "Fireworks throughout Iran, including here in Saqqez, Iranian Kurdistan — home of #MahsaAmini".

Israel will expand Rafah operation, Gallant tells Sullivan
10:05 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel intends to broaden its military sweep of the southern Gazan city of Rafah, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant told visiting US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Monday.

"We are committed to broadening the ground operation in Rafah to the end of dismantling Hamas and recovering the hostages," a statement from Gallant's office quoted him as saying during the meeting.

Sullivan has been meeting with Israeli officials in the latest set of talks around the war and a post-war plan for Gaza, which has been at the centre of international disputes among the Israeli government in the past week.


Yemen's Houthis: Raisi death a 'loss for Islamic world'
9:40 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Yemen's Houthi group on Monday mourned the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, saying his loss will be felt across the Muslim world, especially among Palestinians.

Raisi's death "is a loss not only for Iran but also for the entire Islamic world and Palestine and Gaza," Huthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam said on X, adding that the Palestinians were "in dire need of the presence of such a president who continued to defend" their right to freedom.

Lebanon's Hezbollah mourns Iranian president
9:09 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Lebanon's Tehran-backed Hezbollah group mourned Monday the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and other officials in a helicopter crash, praising him as a "protector" of anti-Israel groups in the region.

"Hezbollah in Lebanon extends its deepest condolences," the group said in a statement, adding that they knew Raisi "closely for a long time" and that he was "a strong supporter, and a staunch defender of our causes... and a protector of the resistance movements".

The Lebanese government on Monday declared three days of mourning to mark the death of the president.

Fears for staff and patients at Al-Awda Hospital: MSF
8:55 AM
The New Arab

International NGO Médecins Sans Frontières said on Monday that Al-Awda Hospital in Jabalia in north Gaza was in a critical condition with drinking water depleted and staff overwhelming with wounded patients.

MSF staff members at the hospital said that they are “surrounded by tanks” and that medics and patients are sheltering inside amid the fighting.

"All warring parties must ensure their protection and that of health infrastructure including hospitals," the organisation said in a post on X.

Israeli military says it killed Hamas operatives
8:45 AM
The New Arab Staff

The Israeli army said on Monday that it killed Hamas officials Zaher Huli and Rami Khali Faki, who reportedly both held roles in "Hamas' Military Wing and the Hamas police".

It said that the attack was a joint operation with its air forces, adding that Khalil Faki was killed in Nuseirat alongside five Hamas fighters.

Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza has been beset by major air attacks in the past days. At least 30 civilians were killed in an air strike on a residential building overnight on Saturday, local media reported.

Hamas mourns Iranian president Raisi’s death
8:30 AM
The New Arab Staff

Hamas has mourned the death of Iran's President Raisi and his accompanying delegation in a statement on its website.

The statement honoured Raisi's "positions in support of our Palestinian cause, the legitimate struggle of our people against the Zionist entity, and the Palestinian resistance".

It went on to praise Iran's "intense political and diplomatic efforts and endeavours to stop the Zionist aggression against our Palestinian people" in Gaza. It voiced confidence that Iran will be "able to overcome the repercussions of this great loss".