Israel responded with exceptionally harsh criticism to a request from the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) for arrest warrants. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Karim Khan “one of the great anti-Semites of the modern age.”

Khan had previously requested arrest warrants against Netanyahu and Defense Minister Joav as well as three leaders of the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas for alleged crimes against humanity. Israel received support from its most important ally, the USA. Others, such as France, supported the criminal court.

Neither the USA nor Israel recognize the criminal court. The Palestinian territories are a contracting state. Therefore, Khan is also allowed to investigate. The judges must now decide whether the arrest warrants will actually be issued. If they consider the allegations to be confirmed, the main proceedings can be initiated against the accused.

The court has no ability to execute arrest warrants itself. However, this significantly restricts the freedom of movement of those wanted – because all contracting states to the court are obliged to arrest the accused with open arrest warrants and transfer them to The Hague as soon as they are in their country.

Scholz: Hamas atrocities are not comparable to Israel’s warfare

From the point of view of Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), the atrocities committed by the terrorists cannot be remotely compared with Israel’s warfare. “The federal government absolutely rejects any semblance of comparability,” a Scholz spokesman told the Bild newspaper. Regarding the applications for arrest warrants against three Hamas leaders, the spokesman said: “In view of the atrocities of October 7th, the ongoing ones With so many people being held hostage and Hamas’ continued attacks on Israel, this is only logical.”

Regarding possible arrest warrants against Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Joav Galant, Scholz explained: “The Federal Government has always emphasized that Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas’s murderous attacks in accordance with international law. Against this background, the allegations weigh of the chief prosecutor and must be substantiated. Germany assumes that the fact that Israel is a democratic constitutional state with a strong, independent judiciary is taken into account.”

Federal Foreign Office: Arrest warrants create false image

However, according to the Foreign Office, Khan’s simultaneous actions against Hamas and Israel created a false picture. “The simultaneous application for arrest warrants against the Hamas leaders on the one hand and the two Israeli officials on the other gave the false impression of an equation,” said a Foreign Office spokesman in Berlin.

Federal Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) also expressed criticism. “To be honest, I don’t really understand that two such disparate issues are being put together in one file,” said Pistorius during a visit to Lithuania. “It’s a decision that we have to respect. However, I don’t think its effect is appropriate.”

Defense Secretary Galant said Khan was drawing a “hideous parallel” between Israel and Hamas. Israel is fighting a brutal terrorist organization that has committed atrocities against Israeli children, women and men and is now using its own people as a shield.

Netanyahu: Khan pours fuel on the fires of anti-Semitism

Netanyahu said Khan’s decision was “hard-heartedly pouring fuel on the fires of anti-Semitism that are raging around the world.” He even compared Khan to the Nazi executioners and accused him of “blood libel” – this term, also known as the ritual murder legend, refers to anti-Semitic false accusations against Jews since the Middle Ages.

Khan prosecutes crimes during the Gaza war. He also requested arrest warrants against Hamas’ Gaza chief Jihia al-Sinwar, foreign affairs chief Ismail Haniya and Sinwar’s deputy Mohammed Deif. Netanyahu and Galant are accused by him, among other things, of being responsible for starving civilians as a method of warfare as well as for indiscriminate killings and targeted attacks on civilians.

USA defends Israel against allegations

The USA demonstratively defended its ally against the allegations. “Contrary to the International Court of Justice’s allegations against Israel, this is not genocide,” said US President Joe Biden on Monday in the Rose Garden of the White House at a celebration of the achievements of American Jews in the US. “We reject this. We stand with Israel.” There is no equivalence between Israel and the Islamist Hamas – which the USA classifies as a terrorist organization.

France supports the criminal court

“France supports the International Criminal Court, its independence and the fight against impunity in all situations,” the French Foreign Ministry announced on Tuesday night. France has condemned the anti-Semitic massacres committed by Hamas from the outset. As far as Israel is concerned, Paris has been insisting for many months on strict compliance with international humanitarian law and has particularly lamented the casualties among the civilian population in the Gaza Strip and the inadequate access for aid deliveries.

The human rights organization Amnesty International called Khan’s decision a “decisive step towards justice.” It sends “an important message to all parties to the conflict in Gaza and beyond that they will be held accountable for the destruction they have inflicted on the peoples of Gaza and Israel.”

Amal Clooney half Weltstrafgericht

The prominent human rights lawyer Amal Clooney has supported Khan in his actions against Israel and the Islamist Hamas. He asked her more than four months ago to support him and a group of experts in examining the evidence, Clooney said via the Clooney Foundation for Justice. In order to prepare the application for arrest warrants, she extensively examined and legally analyzed the evidence with other international and criminal law experts. The law to protect civilians in war zones applies “in every country in the world, regardless of the reasons for the conflict,” explained Clooney. “I neither accept that a conflict takes place in a legal vacuum nor that a perpetrator is above the law.”

Blinken: Arrest warrant applications could jeopardize hostage agreements

According to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the chief prosecutor’s actions could jeopardize ongoing efforts to reach a ceasefire agreement in Gaza. Hamas is being encouraged in this way and that is the main obstacle to an agreement, a spokesman for the US State Department said. Efforts to release the hostages and reach a ceasefire made no progress last week, US National Security Council communications director John Kirby said. Since Israel and Hamas do not negotiate directly with each other, Egypt, Qatar and the United States act as mediators in the negotiations.

USA: Chief prosecutor of the criminal court should visit Israel

According to Blinken, Khan canceled a planned visit to Israel shortly before filing for arrest warrants against Netanyahu and Galant. Khan’s trip to Israel was planned for next week, it said in a statement. Khan should actually talk to the Israeli government about the investigation and also hear their point of view. The chief prosecutor’s staff should land in Israel on Monday to prepare for the visit. The Israeli government only found out that they had not boarded their plane when the applications for the arrest warrants were announced on television. “These and other circumstances call into question the legitimacy and credibility of this investigation,” the statement said.

In the Hamas attacks in the Israeli border area on October 7th, around 1,200 people were killed and more than 250 were kidnapped as hostages in the Gaza Strip. The terrorist attack triggered Israel’s military offensive in the Gaza Strip, in which 35,647 people have been killed so far, according to the Hamas-controlled health authority.