EDITORIAL: Israel arrest warrants make a mockery of ICC mission

The Nightly
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the ICC's announcement is a "disgrace".
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the ICC's announcement is a "disgrace". Credit: AP

A liberal democracy is not the same as a terrorist regime.

One would like to think such glaringly obvious statements of facts would go without saying, and yet that is the false equivalence that the International Criminal Court has drawn.

In requesting arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Defence Minister Yoav Gallant as well as the three Hamas leaders responsible for the slaughter of hundreds of Israeli civilians and the taking of at least 245 hostages, ICC prosecutor Karim Khan has said that these opposing sides — death cult and democracy — are one and the same.

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It is an outrageous slander that makes a mockery of the ICC’s mandate to prosecute those guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

This is not a war Israel wanted to fight. It was left with no choice by the Hamas regime’s illegal and murderous actions of October 7 — actions deliberately designed to provoke a response from Israel.

In that, Hamas got what they were hoping for.

In the seven months since, many thousands have been killed, including many civilians.

It is difficult to know exactly how many, in part because until recently UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs used fatality numbers complied by the Hamas-run Gaza media office.

But it is indisputable that the human cost of this conflict has been high. Gaza has been reduced to a hellscape.

Civilian deaths are a tragic fact of war, particularly a war such as this, in which one side’s signature move is to use masses of innocents as human shields.

Hamas knows it cannot win a conventional war against its militarily superior foe.

It is not trying to do so. Instead, it’s waging a public relations war, painting Israel as the blood thirsty aggressor, hell-bent on committing genocide, instead of a legitimate democracy fighting against a terrorist enemy that wants it wiped from existence.

This distortion of reality has now infected the ICC.

Mr Khan says Mr Netanyahu and Mr Gallant have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity “as part of a widespread and systematic attack against the Palestinian civilian population”.

“International law and the laws of armed conflict apply to all,” he said. “No foot soldier, no commander, no civilian leader — no one — can act with impunity. Nothing can justify wilfully depriving human beings, including so many women and children, of the basic necessities required for life. Nothing can justify the taking of hostages or the targeting of civilians.”

He is right.

But the maintenance of international order depends on the ability of nations to wage just wars.

US President Joe Biden was among the world leaders to denounce the ICC’s pursuit of Israel as “outrageous”. There are already calls from within the US for that nation to use its considerable heft to pressure allies to withhold funding for the ICC.

Mr Khan says he is working towards the “common pursuit of accountability”.

The ICC may soon find itself the target of that pursuit.


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