Biden defends Israel after ICC warrants request

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

STORY: U.S. President Joe Biden strongly defended Israel on Monday after the International Criminal Court's prosecutor requested arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his defense chief and three Hamas leaders over alleged war crimes.

Biden was speaking at an event for Jewish American Heritage Month at the White House.

“Let me be clear, we reject the ICC's application for arrest warrants against Israeli leaders. Whatever these warrants may imply, there is no equivalence between Israel and Hamas, and it's clear Israel wants to do all we can to ensure civilian protection. Let me be clear. Contrary to allegations against Israel made by the International Court of Justice, what's happening is not genocide."

ICC prosecutor Karim Khan said in a statement issued after more than seven months of war in Gaza that he had reasonable grounds to believe the five men "bear criminal responsibility" for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.

He said evidence his office collected showed Israel had systematically deprived civilians of "objects indispensable to human survival", including food, water, medicine and energy.

Netanyahu on Monday called the charges ‘absurd’.

“I reject with disgust the comparison of the prosecutor in the Hague between democratic Israel and the mass murderers of Hamas. This is a complete distortion of reality.”

The Hamas leaders are accused of bearing responsibility for crimes committed by the militant group, including extermination and murder, the taking of hostages, torture, rape and other acts of sexual violence.

Many Gazans were also angry over news of the warrants:

"We are against this decision because they have equated the victim with the executioner. We have a right to our homeland. How can it be that those who resist and call for the liberation of their homeland become criminal? And the criminal become the protector?!"

The ICC is the world's first permanent international war crimes court.

It steps in only when a state is unwilling or genuinely unable to do so itself.

Israel has said alleged war crimes in Gaza are being investigated domestically.

It and key ally the United States are not members of the ICC, along with China and Russia.