A Legal Siege

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Israeli officials on Monday are growing increasingly concerned that the International Criminal Court will issue arrest warrants for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top Israeli officials for their roles in the violence in Gaza and the West Bank, the Associated Press reported.

The court, based in The Hague, Netherlands, launched an investigation three years ago into incidents going back to the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas. Israeli officials have referred to it in recent days amid further escalation in the conflict and stuttering truce talks, saying the warrants could be served this week.

However, it is unclear exactly who would be charged or for what alleged crimes. Israeli media has reported that the International Criminal Court is considering issuing arrest warrants for senior officials, including the prime minister, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, Euronews reported.

The New York Times added that the court was also looking into issuing warrants for senior leaders of Hamas.

Netanyahu on Friday wrote that he would “never accept any attempt by the ICC to undermine [Israel’s] inherent right of self-defense.”

Though Israel – like its ally, the United States – does not recognize the ICC’s jurisdiction, the prime minister could face arrest in one of the 123 countries that do should he travel, Haaretz explained.

The Israeli justice ministry and army lawyers, as well as Western allies, have scrambled to convince ICC prosecutor Karim Khan to refrain from issuing such arrest warrants.

Khan said in October that the ICC also had jurisdiction over potential war crimes committed by Hamas, Reuters wrote. The Palestinian territories were granted member-state status at the court in 2015.

The ICC’s case is separate from an ongoing case on genocide against Israel at the International Court of Justice, also based in the Hague.

Israel’s military offensive, which came in response to a Hamas-led attack on Oct. 7 that killed 1,200 people, has killed more than 34,000 people in the enclave in the past six months, according to Palestinian officials, and led to a humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Israel says it is now preparing for an invasion of Rafah, where half of the territory’s 2.3-million population has been displaced. On Sunday, US President Joe Biden reiterated his opposition to the move in a call with Netanyahu, saying it would cause a humanitarian catastrophe.

The US, Egypt, and Qatar are pressuring Israel and Hamas to accept a temporary cease-fire agreement. But a disagreement between Israel and Hamas over a deal to end the war has indefinitely stalled the negotiations.

Meanwhile, Israel announced it was allowing more aid into Gaza, a move some believe is aimed at influencing the ICC. On Sunday, the World Central Kitchen said it was resuming aid in the enclave, one month after an Israeli airstrike killed seven of its workers.

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