ICC arrest warrants on Israeli leaders: US protests and threats outrageous

Karim Khan seeks ICC arrest warrants on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and three top Hamas leaders

Israel has no intention to slow down its genocidal campaign in the Gaza Strip, even after a series of blows it suffered this week in the form of the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor seeking arrest warrants for its leaders and the recognition of Palestine as an independent state by three European countries: Ireland, Norway, and Spain.

There is no letup in Israel’s killer intent. The Gaza Strip has been made uninhabitable. It is heartbreaking to watch on Al Jazeera the wounded, the sick, the elderly, and little children running for cover in search of not-to-be-found safety amid a severe shortage of food, fuel, and medicine, among other essentials.

Given the atrocious extent to which Israel has taken its war in Gaza, the Zionist regime would surely have blocked even the life-sustaining oxygen if it had power over the wind blowing across Gaza.

The war crimes Israel is committing in Gaza with impunity and with encouragement from the United States, Britain, and Germany are so blatant that ICC Prosecutor General Karim Khan could no longer filibuster the process of issuing the arrest warrant on Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant. If he had not acted now, he would only be adding credence to allegations that the world court is largely after African and anti-West leaders while being complicit in the war crimes committed by pro-Western nations.

The ICC prosecutor’s announcement on Monday was only the beginning of a long process. Based on a report Khan commissioned from an expert panel, he has asked the ICC judges to see whether there is prima facie evidence to issue an arrest warrant on Netanyahu, Gallant, Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh, military leader Yahya Sinwar, and Al-Qassem brigade leader Mohammed Deif. The ICC’s pre-trial chamber judges may take days, weeks, or even months to issue the arrest warrants.

The inclusion of top Hamas figures may seem like a balancing act. Khan, a British barrister whose appointment to the court in 2021 was welcomed by Israel, said that during the October 7, 2023, attack, Hamas killed civilians, including babies, and raped women.

But proving some of the Hamas’ crimes would be difficult because they were made up or hyped with little evidence. For instance, there is no credible photographic evidence to support the charge that Hamas beheaded babies. Even rape charges have yet to be supported by forensic evidence. 

In contrast, Israeli crimes are visible, photographed, and witnessed by top United Nations officials, foreign aid workers, and doctors in Gaza. Israeli leaders hit out at the ICC move calling it anti-Semitic. 

Ironically, adopting the same argument, both Israel and Hamas have denounced the ICC prosecutor’s effort to handcuff them together. They ask how the ICC can hold the scale of justice evenly if it puts both the victim and the aggressor in the same dock. Those who understand the context of the Israeli-Palestine conflict know who the victims are and who the aggressors are.

In universities across the world, and more importantly, in the United States, students understand the context of the Palestinian conflict. Freed from the truth-distorting Zionist media, the educated youth in the US have realised how unfair their governments have been to the Palestinian victims. They now know that their presidents and lawmakers have been complicit in Israel’s crimes. They see how morally decadent the leaders they elect are and how flawed their democracy is.

On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken was interrupted by protesters when he appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was called the butcher of Gaza and a war criminal.

Yet, most US politicians are zealously pro-Israel, even in the face of a stream of evidence to implicate Israel with genocide and war crimes in Gaza.

US President Joe Biden slammed the ICC prosecutor’s decision as outrageous, while Blinken called it “profoundly wrong-headed” and said the administration was willing to work with a Republican push in Congress to impose sanctions on ICC officials. In Congress, Representatives and Senators scramble to condemn Khan and say Israel is a liberal democracy, and will not commit war crimes, let alone genocide. 

What is outrageous is the US stooping down to such morally low levels in defence of genocide-committing Israel. By opposing the ICC prosecutor’s move, the US president and the Congress members are only exposing their nudity and the hollowness of their so-called campaign to establish a rules-based international order. Their condemnation of the ICC makes it abundantly clear that their call for a rules-based order is largely aimed at nations that challenge the US hegemony.

When the same court issued an arrest warrant on Russian leader Vladimir Putin in March last year for the alleged war crime of unlawful deportation of thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia, Biden was quick to welcome it. When Sudan’s former strongman Omar al Bashir visited South Africa in June 2015, the US and the West condemned South Africa’s failure to arrest and hand him over to the ICC.

In an April 24-dated open letter, 12 US Senators warned Khan: “Target Israel and we will target you. If you move forward with the measures indicated in the report, we will move to end all American support for the ICC, sanction your employees and associates, and bar you and your families from the United States.”

In an interview with CNN, Khan said, “I’ve had some elected leaders speak to me, and they were very blunt. ‘This court is built for Africa and for thugs like Putin,’ was what one senior leader told me.”

“We don’t do it like that,” he said, dismissing these threats. “This court should be the triumph of law over power and brute force,” he said, adding, “Nobody is above the law.”

Why the US behaves differently when it comes to Israel is explained by the power of the so-called Zionist lobby in the US. It is an open secret that more than 365 Congress members have received millions of dollars in campaign donations from the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a leading group canvassing for Israel.

AIPAC and other pro-Israeli lobby groups do more damage to US democracy and image than what US adversaries Russia, China, and Iran are said to have done. Only President John F. Kennedy thought it fit to eliminate the undue influence on US democracy from AIPAC and groups working for foreign governments.

Since his mystery assassination, the Zionist lobby has grown from strength to strength and has an institutionalised presence in US politics. So much so, the lobby decides who gets elected, not the American voters.

Eliminating this democracy-distorting cancer or the Zionist lobby’s bribes is near impossible and is akin to the question of who will dare to bell the cat. It’s no wonder that Washington’s corridors of power are derided as “the Israeli-occupied territory.”

A responsible superpower should have welcomed the ICC prosecutor’s move and called it too little, too late. By denouncing the ICC prosecutor’s move to seek arrest warrants on Israeli leaders and threatening ICC officials, the US proves that it has no moral compass to lead the world.

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