Leading prosecutors for the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced on Monday that they are seeking arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant, and three senior Hamas leaders for alleged war crimes and human rights abuses committed during the ongoing war in Gaza.

The warrant application, announced in a press conference by chief ICC prosecutor Karim Khan, charges the leaders of Israel with “war crimes and crimes against humanity committed on the territory of the State of Palestine (in the Gaza strip) from at least 8 October 2023.”

Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and Yoav Gallant (right). (Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP)

According to Khan, who previously served as Assistant Secretary-General for the United Nations, Netanyahu and Gallant are responsible for “using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare,” “willfully causing great suffering, serious injury to body or health, and cruel treatment,” “willfully killing or murder,” and “intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population,” among other war crimes.

“The evidence we have collected shows that Israel has intentionally and systematically deprived the civilian population in all parts of Gaza of objects indispensable to human survival,” Khan continued, citing interviews with refugees, assessments from experts, and reviews of satellite footage, as well as statements made by Israeli officials.

These statements include those made by Netanyahu and Gallant themselves, specifically Gallant’s October 9th declaration that there would be “no electricity, no food, no fuel” allowed into Gaza during Israel’s “complete siege on the region.

“We are fighting human animals and we are acting accordingly,” he said at the time.

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Ismail Haniyeh (left), Yahya Sinwar (center), and Mohammed Deif (right)

Khan’s office is also bringing charges against Yahya Sinwar, leader of Hamas operations in Gaza, Mohammed Deif, head of the Al-Qassem Brigades, and Ismail Haniyeh, the group’s overall political leader. The charges brought against all three men include extermination, murder, torture, rape, and taking hostages during the October 7th Hamas attack on Israel.

“My Office submits there are reasonable grounds to believe that Sinwar, Deif and Haniyeh are criminally responsible for the killing of hundreds of Israeli civilians in attacks perpetrated by Hamas on 7 October 2023 and the taking of at least 245 hostages,” Khan said.

He continued that “there are reasonable grounds to believe that hostages taken from Israel have been kept in inhumane conditions, and that some have been subject to sexual violence, including rape, while being held in captivity.” An investigation into sexual violence on October 7th is still ongoing.

“Today we once again underline that international law and the laws of armed conflict apply to all,” the prosecutor concluded. “No foot soldier, no commander, no civilian leader — no one — can act with impunity. Nothing can justify willfully depriving human beings, including so many women and children, the basic necessities required for life. Nothing can justify the taking of hostages or the targeting of civilians.”

Khan’s application for arrest warrants will now be reviewed by a panel of three ICC judges, who will determine whether the case may proceed. If the warrants are issued, Netanyahu, Gallant, Sinwar, Deif, and Haniyeh will be named alongside the likes of Russian President Vladimir Putin on the court’s “Wanted” list.

Related: ICC Issues Arrest Warrant for Vladimir Putin Over Ukraine War Crimes

As the Associated Press indicates, Israel is notably not a member of the court, meaning that Netanyahu and Gallant are not in immediate danger of prosecution. However, this move—which Israeli officials are already decrying as “a historic disgrace”—highlights Israel’s growing isolation during the ongoing war in Gaza and could also complete plans for the Israeli leaders to travel internationally.

Hamas likewise denounced Khan’s statement, accusing the court of “equating the victim with the executioner” and maintaining its right to use “armed resistance” against Israeli occupation. The militant group also urged the court to seek arrest warrants for other key members of the Israeli government as well.

United States President Joe Biden has previously warned the ICC that his administration does not support any action against Israel and denies that the court has jurisdiction to oversee the war in Gaza. However, Biden’s own relationship with Israel has been rocky in recent weeks, with the president threatening to withhold ammunition shipments over Israel’s methods while invading the Gazan city of Rafah.

Connor Walcott is a staff writer for Valuetainment.com. Follow Connor on X and look for him on VT’s “The Unusual Suspects.”

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