Home News Gazans say ICC prosecutor’s hunt for Hamas leader is wrong

Gazans say ICC prosecutor’s hunt for Hamas leader is wrong


The chief prosecutor of the world’s highest criminal court says he seek arrest warrant Both Israel and Hamas leaders have been accused of war crimes, a move many see as equating victims with perpetrators.

“We regret, condemn and are surprised by the ICC’s decision to put defendants, victims and executioners in one cage,” said Zahir Essam, 55, who lives in Gaza City.

Karim KhanThe ICC’s chief prosecutor announced Monday his decision to seek an arrest warrant against Gaza’s Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar; Mohammed Deif, Hamas’s military chief; and the movement’s top political official in Qatar, Ismail Ismail Haniyeh. He also said he would seek arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Galant.

The statement effectively treats Israeli officials and Hamas leaders in the same light, despite what Essam sees as a power imbalance between the two sides in the Gaza conflict, which began on October 7 when Hamas led an attack on Israel. attack.

Israeli officials said the attack killed about 1,200 people and took about 240 hostages. Israel’s retaliatory war in Gaza has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza health authorities, although their figures do not distinguish between civilians and combatants.

Many Palestinians believe that the October 7 attack was a legitimate response to Israel’s violations during its decades-long occupation of the Palestinian territories.

“The Palestinian people are defending their most basic human rights and resisting the occupation and the worst abuses,” Essam said in a telephone interview. He also said prosecutors went so far as to consider “those who defend their rights and their homeland” to be “complicit” in He was surprised that those who fought them with all kinds of weapons and aircraft” were equal.

In Israel, the arrest warrant prompted the opposite reaction, with Mr Netanyahu denouncing the prosecutor’s decision as a “distortion of reality” and defending the war in Gaza as a war of self-defense. For now, the announcement is largely symbolic. Israel does not recognize the court’s jurisdiction, and it could take months for a judge to approve a request for an arrest warrant.

Jaber Yahia, a 50-year-old teacher from central Gaza, said he was relieved by the nominations of Mr Netanyahu and Mr Galante. “I’m thinking they will eventually be brought to justice,” he said. But he was relieved to hear that arrest warrants would also be sought for Hamas leaders.

“We are under occupation and it is our legal right to resist,” he said.

Nidal Kuhail, a 30-year-old waiter from Gaza City who was forcibly displaced to Rafah, said he had hoped that the international community and its legal institutions, such as courts, would first order a ceasefire to end the Israel’s deadly bombing.

“The first step should be to force an immediate end to the war,” Kuhair said in a telephone interview. “Then bring Galante and Netanyahu to trial for documented war crimes,” he added.

By contrast, seeking an arrest warrant for the Hamas leader was “a bad decision,” he said.

Abu Bakr Bashir Reporting from London.

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