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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Alamy Stock Photo

Israeli leaders say use of International Criminal Court over Gaza conflict is 'threat to democracies'

There are reports that Israeli officials fear the tribunal based in The Hague could soon issue arrest warrants.


ISRAELI LEADERS HAVE urged allies to reject efforts to use the International Criminal Court against their country over its assault on Gaza, warning of a threat to democracies everywhere.

In a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Tel Aviv, Israeli President Isaac Herzog stressed the strength of Israel’s legal system and respect for the rule of law and decried an ICC investigation into Israel’s conduct in the Palestinian territory.

“Trying to use the International Criminal Court against Israel, which is fighting terror, is a clear and present danger to democracies and to free peace-loving nations who pursue the norms of international law,” he told journalists.

“I call upon all our allies and friends to object and reject any such efforts.”

His comments came amid reports that Israeli officials fear the tribunal based in The Hague could soon issue arrest warrants.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly raised the issue with US President Joe Biden in a call at the weekend.

Netanyahu insisted last night on Telegram that “no decision, neither at The Hague nor anywhere else, will in any way harm our determination to achieve all the war goals”.

“The purpose of this step, if it is carried out, is to threaten the leaders and soldiers of the State of Israel, essentially to paralyse the State of Israel’s ability to defend itself,” he said.

“Israel expects the leaders of the free world to come out firmly against this scandalous step.”

In a video posted on X today, Netanyahu said the move “would be an outrage of historic proportions”. 

He said that in “targeting Israel, the ICC would be targeting all democracies because it would be undermining their inherent right to defend themselves against savage terrorism”. 

The United States said on Monday it opposed the ICC’s investigation.

“We’ve been really clear about the ICC investigation, that we don’t support it, we don’t believe that they have the jurisdiction,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told a briefing.

The conflict started after Hamas’s 7 October attack on southern Israel resulted in the deaths of 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 34,568 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in the territory.

Palestinian militants also took some 250 hostages on 7 October. Israel estimates 129 remain in Gaza, including 34 believed to be dead.

© AFP 2024 with reporting by Hayley Halpin