South Africa welcomes ICC prosecutor seeking warrants for Israel, Hamas leaders

FILE PHOTO: An exterior view of the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's presidency said on Monday it welcomed an announcement by the International Criminal Court's prosecutor saying he had requested arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his defence chief and three Hamas leaders over alleged war crimes.

"The law must be applied equally to all in order to uphold the international rule of law, ensure accountability for those that commit heinous crimes and protect the rights of victims," President Cyril Ramaphosa's office said in a statement.

South Africa, a leading voice in championing the cause of Palestinians, has also brought a case against Israel at the International Court of Justice accusing it of genocide, which it denies.

Israel and Hamas leaders have dismissed allegations of committing war crimes, and representatives of both sides criticised the prosecutor's decision.

(Reporting by Bhargav Acharya and Tannur Anders; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Alison Williams)