ICC’s Troubling Move: Pursuing Netanyahu and Gallant Raises Concerns

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The International Criminal Court once again is revealing itself as a troubling entity, indeed an invalid body, as its chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, seeks an arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

The two issues here are distinct, although the first helps illustrate the second. First, the concept of warrants for the Israeli officials is preposterous. Second, even without the pursuit of arresting the Israelis, the ICC is flawed in concept and structure.

Regarding Khan’s warrant request, it also targets Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar and two other senior Hamas officials. These simultaneous warrant requests appear intended to show the ICC’s impartiality. Instead, this supposed “balance” is deeply offensive. It essentially places a terrorist organization on the same moral and legal footing as the elected leader of a true representative democracy. It equates the purposeful targeting and torturing of innocent civilians during an unprovoked act of terror with the justified military response of the aggrieved party, who goes to great lengths to warn civilians of impending operations and to provide safe passage corridors.

Moreover, the specific accusations Khan made against the two Israeli officials are factually incorrect. He told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that the Israelis are guilty of “causing extermination, causing starvation as a method of war, including the denial of humanitarian relief supplies, deliberately targeting civilians in conflict. … The fact that Hamas fighters need water doesn’t justify denying water from all the civilian population of Gaza.”

Every part of that statement is incorrect. Instead of engaging in “extermination” and “deliberately targeting civilians in conflict,” Israel has made extraordinary efforts to minimize civilian casualties, achieving a lower ratio of civilian to military deaths than almost any other urban warfare in the past century. This is even more extraordinary given that Hamas routinely uses civilians as human shields and conducts terrorist operations from underneath hospital facilities.

Additionally, rather than denying relief supplies or water, Israel has vigorously facilitated humanitarian aid to Gaza while urging the international community to increase its efforts. Israel has also closely coordinated with the United States as it built a pier to unload aid for Gaza, at a port constructed by Israelis, and has helped protect the ships and personnel working there. This has occurred even as Hamas terrorists have repeatedly attacked the pier, designed to assist the very people Hamas claims to represent.

Regarding water supplies, following Hamas’s terrorist attacks last Oct. 7, Israel temporarily shut off part of Gaza’s water supply that Israel has long provided but quickly resumed supply shortly after. While Gaza’s water situation is dire, there is no evidence that Israel has intentionally targeted its water infrastructure. In contrast, Hamas has diverted years of foreign aid meant for such infrastructure to instead convert large concrete water pipes into casings for terrorist rockets.

Beyond these specific accusations, the ICC itself is inherently illegitimate, both in these instances and broadly. It has no jurisdiction over Israel or the U.S. because neither is a signatory to the treaty that established it. Additionally, the very notion of “international law” poses significant challenges. Legitimate law stems from the consent of the governed, but over half the nations worldwide do not operate with full democratic consent and fail to sufficiently guarantee human rights. A tribunal constituted by delegates from countries like Burkina Faso, Mali, and Tajikistan — all rated as definitively “not free” by Freedom House — has no more legitimacy in delivering criminal judgments over a citizen of, say, France, than a Martian would over an American.

Currently, the ICC has not yet issued a warrant for Netanyahu, but should it do so, no nation should recognize it. The mere contemplation of arresting the democratically elected leader of one of the freest nations on Earth to hand over to an invalid tribunal would itself be egregious.

Quin Hillyer
Quin Hillyer
Deputy Commentary Editor. Quin is a former executive editor for the American Spectator and has served in senior roles for the Washington Times, the Mobile Register, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, and Gambit New Orleans Weekly and has been published in almost every major newspaper in the nation. A New Orleans native and cum laude graduate of Georgetown University, he is the author of the Mad Jones trilogy of satirical novels.

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