ICC warrants

Editorial Board
Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Before October 7, 2023 if world leaders were given a hypothetical question about their reaction to a state’s relentless bombardment against a besieged population as collective punishment, almost all of them would have said that they would campaign for the arrest of those responsible for such crimes against humanity. This is how most countries expect world leaders to behave. But all of this changed after the Hamas October 7 attack on Israel, which allowed the occupying state to start brutal bombardment against Palestinians in Gaza. This was encouraged by the Global North. This is why people across the world are surprised to learn that the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) has issued arrest warrants for Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant. ICC prosecutor Karim Khan says that he has reasonable grounds to believe that five men are responsible for crimes against humanity and war crimes. Besides two Israeli leaders, three Hamas leaders are also on the ICC’s list: Yahya Sinwar, Ismail Haniyeh and Mohammed Diab Ibrahim al-Masir (also known as Mohammed Deif). Reacting to the news, the Israeli PM has called the ICC prosecutor one of the “great anti-Semites in modern times”.

Since October 7, all criticism against Israel has been labelled as antisemitic. The US in particular has chosen to not listen to any sane counsel regarding its support for Israel. Countries in the Global South – which have their own brutal history of occupation – have been quick to raise a voice for Gaza. All it took was South Asia’s brave step to drag Israel to the International Court of Justice. And while this did not stop Israel from indiscriminate bombardment, it officially described that the settler-state had genocidal intent – something which will go down in history and keep reminding the world about the settler-state’s tainted past.

While people’s expectations are still not high, the warrants are still a step in the right direction. The past months have seen humanity descend to an all-time low. Israeli officials have called Palestinians human-animals. Ordinary Israelis have stopped aid trucks from entering Gaza. What Israel is doing is nothing less than the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. But its staunch supporters have conveniently turned a blind eye to its crimes. Once-celebrated and credible news outlets in the US and the UK have also preferred to become mouthpieces for Israel and the US, conveniently abandoning their journalistic principles. Some have gone as far as justifying the slaughter of Palestinian children, using stereotypical caricatures to explain how civilians are used as shields by combatants. Given the support Israel enjoys in the international community, many had thought that the ICC wouldn’t be able to even do this much. But the arrest warrants are a message – finally – that this time Israel has gone too far in its brutalities. While it is much too early to say if the ICC’s decision will have any impact on the settler state, at least the fig leaves Israel had carefully placed on itself to hide the ugly truth about it are now completely fallen off.