ICC Moves Forward with Arrest Warrants for Netanyahu and Hamas Leaders, Triggers Bipartisan Criticism

By Brendan Scanland

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The International Criminal Court (ICC) plans to move forward with arrest warrants for Hamas leaders and top Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

It is the first time the ICC has targeted the top leader of a close U.S. ally. 

Netanyahu, his defense minister and three Hamas leaders are among those the ICC is seeking arrest warrants for on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. 

The Hamas leaders face charges over the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel, where 1,200 people were killed and hundreds were kidnapped, assaulted and dozens more killed in captivity. It was the largest killing of Jewish people since the Holocaust. 

For Netanyahu and other Israeli government officials, the charges stem from the war in Gaza, where over 35,000 Palestinians have been killed, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, overseen by Hamas. 

The charges against Israeli officials include “causing extermination, causing starvation as a method of war, including the denial of humanitarian relief supplies and deliberately targeting civilians in conflict.” 

Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders call the warrants against them an “outrage of historic proportions.” 

This afternoon, the State Department voiced its opposition to the warrants. A department spokesperson said by doing this, the court’s prosecutor, Karim Khan, has short-circuited a process that was underway to gather facts. The State Department also said this could impact ongoing negotiations for a ceasefire and to free the remaining hostages held by Hamas. 

“The United States fundamentally rejects the announcement today from the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court that he is applying for arrest warrants for senior Israeli officials, together with warrants for Hamas terrorists. There should be no equivalence between Israel and Hamas,” said State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller during a Monday afternoon press briefing. “Furthermore, the United States has been clear since well before the current conflict that the ICC has no jurisdiction over this matter,” Miller added. 

Democrats and Republicans in Congress shared similar opposition to the announcement. 

“Requesting arrest warrants for both Israel and Hamas leaders suggests there is a moral equivalence between them—there is none and it’s disgusting to suggest otherwise. The ICC’s credibility is now in shambles and they have only themselves to thank,” said Senator John Fetterman (D- PA) Monday morning on X, formerly Twitter. 

“This is a mistake and will forever damage the credibility of the ICC. There can be no equivocation. Prime Minister Netanyahu is the leader of a democracy and is defending Israel’s right to exist following the horrific October 7th attacks. Hamas is a terrorist organization responsible for the deaths of thousands of Israelis and Palestinians,” said Rep. Marc Molinaro (R- NY) on X Monday morning. 

“The International Criminal Court prosecutor’s requests for arrest warrants against Israeli leadership is absurd in the extreme and reveals the ICC’s notorious anti-Israel bias. The prosecutor’s equivalence of Israel with Hamas, a terrorist organization that rapes, murders and kidnaps innocent people, is absolutely disgraceful. This decision will hamper efforts to reach an agreement that would release hostages and pause hostilities. U.S. support for Israel is ironclad and we will always support Israel’s right to defend itself,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D- NY) in a press release Monday afternoon. 

A panel of ICC judges will now consider the application for the arrest warrants. If the court grants that application and issues the warrants, any country that is a member of the ICC would have to arrest them and extradite them to the Netherlands.