Warrants sought against Israel, Hamas leaders, but not yet granted in Hague | Fact check

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The claim: International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for Israel, Hamas leaders

A May 20 Instagram post (direct link, archive link) includes an image of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accompanied by a purported news alert about the International Criminal Court.

"BREAKING: Arrest warrants against Netanyahu issued by ICC over war crimes," reads text on the image.

The post's caption claims the court also issued an arrest warrant for Yahya Sinwar, a leader of Hamas, in connection with the current Israel-Hamas conflict.

The post was liked more than 5,000 times in three days.

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Our rating: False

The International Criminal Court had not, as of May 23, issued arrest warrants against leaders of Israel and Hamas, though it might. The court's chief prosecutor announced he is applying for arrest warrants against Netanyahu and Sinwar, but judges of the court must still decide whether to approve the applications and issue the requested warrants.

Prosecutor accuses Israel, Hamas leaders of war crimes

Karim Khan, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, announced May 20 he is seeking arrest warrants against leaders of Israel and Hamas for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in connection with the ongoing armed conflict.

But while Khan said he is filing applications for arrest warrants against Netanyahu, Sinwar and other Israeli and Hamas leaders, those warrants had not yet been issued as of May 23. The prosecutor noted judges of the court will decide whether he has met the necessary standard to issue them.

"The judges of the International Criminal Court must be now given the space to do their work and to dispassionately and objectively review the evidence we have submitted," Khan said. "Should the learned judges approve my applications and issue the requested warrants, I will work closely with the registrar of the court to apprehend the named individuals."

Fadi El Abdallah, a spokesperson for the International Criminal Court, reiterated this point in a May 23 email.

"It is now for the judge of the Pre-Trial Chamber I to decide whether the necessary standard for the issuance of warrants of arrest has been met," he said. "This decision will be made in due course."

Judges in previous cases reached their decisions in as little as a month and as much as several months, Reuters reported.

Khan is pursuing Sinwar and Hamas leaders Mohammed Deif and Ismail Haniyeh for war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Israel and the Gaza Strip from at least Oct. 7, 2023, according to the prosecutor's announcement.

Fact check: UN updated how it reports deaths in Gaza, did not admit to lying about them

He is also pursuing Netanyahu and Yoav Gallant, Israel's minister of defense, for war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the Gaza Strip from at least Oct. 8, 2023, the announcement states.

Israeli officials and Hamas have condemned the prosecutor's move, Reuters reported.

The International Criminal Court investigates, prosecutes and tries individuals accused of committing genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is separate from the International Court of Justice, the U.N.'s main judicial body that settles legal disputes between states.

In a November 2023 statement, Khan said his office has been handling a broad investigation into possible war crimes committed in Palestinian territories since 2014. He said the investigation started in 2021 and extended to the escalation in hostilities since Oct. 7, 2023. In his May 20 announcement, Khan said the investigation is ongoing.

Israel, like the U.S., is not a member state of the International Criminal Court and, according to news reports, does not recognize its jurisdiction. That means Netanyahu would be at no risk of arrest in Israel, but if a warrant is issued, he could be arrested if he were to travel to one of the 124 nations that do.

The Instagram user who shared the post did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reuters also debunked the claim.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: False claim ICC issued warrants over Israel-Hamas war | Fact check