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Biden says request for war crimes arrest warrant for Israeli leaders is 'outrageous'

In a sharply worded statement, Biden rejected the attempt by the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor to seek the arrest of Israel's prime minister and defense minister.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Posted at 8:19 AM, May 20, 2024

President Joe Biden on Monday condemned as “outrageous” an attempt by the chief prosecutor of the world’s top war crimes to seek arrest warrants for Israeli leaders, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, along with those of Hamas over actions taken during their seven-month war.

In a sharply worded statement, Biden rejected the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor's attempt to seek the arrest of Netanyahu and Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant, saying “whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence — none — between Israel and Hamas."

“We will always stand with Israel against threats to its security,” President Biden added.

The court’s prosecutor, Karim Khan, accused Netanyahu, Gallant, and three Hamas leaders — Yehia Sinwar, Mohammed Deif and Ismail Haniyeh — of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Gaza Strip and Israel.

Israeli soldiers drive a tank near the border with the Gaza Strip.

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Speaking of the Israeli actions, Khan said in a statement that “the effects of the use of starvation as a method of warfare, together with other attacks and collective punishment against the civilian population of Gaza are acute, visible and widely known. ... They include malnutrition, dehydration, profound suffering and an increasing number of deaths among the Palestinian population, including babies, other children, and women.”

Of the Hamas actions on Oct. 7, he said that he saw for himself "the devastating scenes of these attacks and the profound impact of the unconscionable crimes charged in the applications filed today. Speaking with survivors, I heard how the love within a family, the deepest bonds between a parent and a child, were contorted to inflict unfathomable pain through calculated cruelty and extreme callousness. These acts demand accountability.”

A panel of three judges will decide whether to issue the arrest warrants and allow a case to proceed.