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Gazans say the ICC’s arrest warrant against leaders Netanyahu and Hamas was wrong

Palestinians in Gaza expressed mixed emotions after the chief prosecutor of the world’s top criminal court said that he request an arrest warrant against the leaders of both Israel and Hamas for war crimes, a move that many said cast victims as perpetrators.

“We regret, denounce and are surprised by the decision of the International Criminal Court to lock up the accused, victims and executioners,” said Zahir Essam, a 55-year-old resident of Gaza City. same cage”.

Karim Khan, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, announced on Monday his decision to seek an arrest warrant for Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in Gaza; Muhammad Deif, military commander of Hamas; and Ismail Haniyeh, the movement’s top political official based in Qatar. He also said he would seek permission from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

The announcement effectively treated Israeli officials and Hamas leaders in the same way, despite what Mr. Essam saw as a power imbalance between the two sides in the Gaza conflict, which began when Hamas led an attack on Israel on October 7.

That attack killed about 1,200 people and about 240 others were taken hostage, Israeli officials said. According to Gaza health authorities, Israel’s retaliatory war in Gaza has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians, although their figures do not differentiate between civilians and combatants.

Many Palestinians see the October 7 attack as a legitimate response to Israeli violations during its decades-long occupation of Palestinian territories.

“The Palestinian people are defending their most basic human rights and fighting against occupation and the harshest form of abuse,” Essam said in a phone interview. He added that he was surprised that the prosecutor equated “those who defend their rights and their homeland” with “those who fight them with an array of weapons and aircraft.”

In Israel, the arrest warrant sparked a backlash, with Netanyahu denouncing the prosecutor’s decision as a “distortion of reality” and defending the war in Gaza as a measure of self-defense. For now, the announcement is largely symbolic. Israel does not recognize the court’s jurisdiction and judges can spend months upholding requests for arrest warrants.

Jaber Yahia, a 50-year-old teacher from central Gaza, said he was relieved by the naming of Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Gallant. “I was thinking, they will finally be brought to justice,” he said. But after hearing that arrest warrants would also be applied to Hamas leaders, his relief became overshadowed.

“We are under occupation and protest is our legal right,” he said.

Nidal Kuhail, a 30-year-old waiter from Gaza City who was displaced to Rafah, said that he had hoped that the international community and its legal bodies, such as courts, would first will order a ceasefire to end the deadly situation. Israeli bombardment.

“The first step was supposed to be an immediate and mandatory end to the war,” Mr. Kuhail said in a telephone interview. “And then put Gallant and Netanyahu on trial because they committed war crimes documented by evidence,” he added.

On the contrary, applying for an arrest warrant for Hamas leaders was “a wrong decision,” he said.

Abu Bakr Bashir Contributed reporting from London.


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