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UN special rapporteur welcomes ICC arrest warrant against Israeli officials

The poster of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is carried among Palestinian flags during a pro-Palestinian rally in Sydney, Australia, October 21, 2023. (Photo by AP)

The UN special rapporteur on the right to housing has welcomed an arrest warrant against Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu by the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“Against Israeli leaders, all charges likely to stick. And missing charges include attacks against various civilian objects including homes!” Balakrishnan Rajagopal posted on X.

An arrest warrant has also been sought for Israel's minister of military affairs Yoav Gallant against the backdrop of the military's seven months of bloody campaign in the besieged Palestinian territory.

ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan said in a Monday statement that he has reasonable grounds to believe Netanyahu and Gallant "bear criminal responsibility" for "war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

Meanwhile, the Palestinian resistance group Hamas has also called on the ICC prosecutor to issue arrest warrants “for all the Israeli officials who gave orders and the soldiers who carried out crimes, in accordance with the Rome Statute.”

"The Public Prosecutor should have arrest and detention orders against all officials from the occupation leaders who gave orders, and soldiers who participated in committing crimes, in accordance with Articles 25, 27 and 28 of the Rome Statute, which emphasized the individual criminal responsibility of every official, commander, or any person who ordered, or instigated, committed, assisted or aided in the commission of crimes, or failed to take measures to prevent the commission of crimes," Hamas said.

Elsewhere in the statement, the resistance group said that the ICC arrest warrants sought for Israeli officials were too late.

"The arrest and detention warrants against the aforementioned occupation leaders came seven months late, during which the “Israeli” occupation committed thousands of crimes against Palestinian civilians, including children, women, doctors, and journalists, and destroyed private and public property, mosques, churches, and hospitals."

The ICC announcement on Monday is separate from the case that is currently being heard by the the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over an accusation from South Africa that Israel was in breach of its obligations under the Genocide Convention in its war on Gaza.

The ICJ held its first hearing on the case in January and then proceeded to order a number of provisional measures that Israel has, so far, largely ignored.

In May, the ICJ heard arguments for a request by South Africa once again seeking additional emergency measures over Israel’s offensive on Rafah, a city in southern Gaza where more than one million displaced Palestinians sought shelter from Israel’s war.

Israel's war in Gaza, which began in early October, has driven around 80% of the territory's population of 2.3 million from their homes, caused vast destruction in several towns and cities and claimed the lives of 35,562 people across the besieged region.

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