Israeli troops killed 7 in West Bank raid

by Admin
Israeli troops killed 7 in West Bank raid

Israeli forces carried out a deadly raid Tuesday in the occupied West Bank and battled Hamas militants in the southern Gaza Strip, while Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant rejected a move by the International Criminal Court’s top prosecutor to seek arrest warrants for Gallant and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Palestinian health officials said Israeli forces killed seven people during the raid in the West Bank city of Jenin, and the head of the Jenin Governmental Hospital said one of those killed was a surgical doctor.

The Israeli military reported an operation targeting militants, and said its forces shot a number of fighters.

Israeli ground troops and aircraft were involved in fighting in Rafah, in southern Gaza, while troops also battled militants in central and northern Gaza, the military said.

Gallant issued a statement Tuesday calling the application for arrest warrants against him and Netanyahu “disgraceful.”

“The attempt by Prosecutor Karim Khan to deny the State of Israel the right to self-defense and to free its hostages must be rejected out of hand,” Gallant said in a post on X.

Khan announced Monday he is seeking the warrants for Netanyahu and Gallant, along with three Hamas leaders in Gaza, for war crimes and crimes against humanity in connection with the Israel-Hamas war.

Netanyahu said Monday the prosecutor’s move was a “moral outrage of historic proportions.”

U.S. President Joe Biden denounced what he called the ICC prosecutor’s decision to equate Hamas terror attacks and civilian abductions in southern Israel with Israel’s military practices in Gaza.

The International Criminal Court prosecutor’s application for arrest warrants for Israeli leaders is “outrageous,” President Biden said in a statement Monday.

“And let me be clear: whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence — none — between Israel and Hamas,” Biden said.

In a separate statement U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken echoed President Biden’s comments and called the ICC’s move to compare Israel with Hamas “shameful.”

“Hamas is a brutal terrorist organization that carried out the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust and is still holding dozens of innocent people hostage, including Americans,” Blinken said.

The U.S. Secretary of State added that this decision “could jeopardize ongoing efforts to reach a cease-fire agreement that would get hostages out and surge humanitarian assistance in, which are the goals the United States continues to pursue relentlessly.”

Displaced Palestinians queue for water at a camp west of Deir al-Balah in the Gaza Strip, May 21, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

Hamas, which is designated by the U.S., the U.K. and other countries as a terrorist organization, also denounced the ICC prosecutor’s decision and accused him of trying to “equate the victim with the executioner.”

In a statement Monday, Hamas said it has the right to resist Israeli occupation, including “armed resistance.”

Balkees Jarrah, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch, hailed Khan’s decision.

“This principled first step by the prosecutor opens the door to those responsible for the atrocities committed in recent months to answer for their actions at a fair trial,” Jarrah said in a statement Monday.

South Africa’s presidency also welcomed the ICC’s announcement Monday.

ICC prosecutor Khan announced Monday that his office believes all five people bear responsibility for acts against humanity.

He said in a statement that Netanyahu and Gallant “bear criminal responsibility” for war crimes and crimes against humanity, including starving civilians as a method of warfare and intentionally directing attacks against civilians “as a means to eliminate Hamas, secure the return of the hostages which Hamas has abducted, and collectively punish the civilian population of Gaza, whom they perceived as a threat to Israel.”

In addition, Khan said, the Hamas leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, commander of the Hamas military wing Mohammed Diab Ibrahim al-Masri, and the head of the Hamas political bureau Ismail Haniyeh are responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, taking hostages as a war crime, rape, other sexual violence and torture.

“It is the view of my office that these individuals planned and instigated the commission of crimes on 7 October 2023, and have through their own actions, including personal visits to hostages shortly after their kidnapping, acknowledged their responsibility for those crimes,” Khan said. “We submit that these crimes could not have been committed without their actions.”

The prosecutor must request the warrants from a pre-trial panel of three judges, who will first examine the evidence before they decide if they move forward with arrest warrants.

Israel is not a member of the ICC, and even if the arrest warrants are issued, Netanyahu and Gallant do not face any immediate risk of prosecution. But Khan’s announcement increases Israel’s isolation as it presses ahead with its war, and the threat of arrest could make it difficult for the Israeli leaders to travel abroad.

Israel’s war in Gaza was triggered by the October Hamas terror attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people and led to the capture of about 250 hostages, according to Israeli officials.

Israel’s subsequent counteroffensive in Gaza has killed more than 35,500 Palestinians, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, which includes civilians and combatants in its count, but says most of the dead are women and children.

Israel says it has killed more than 14,000 militants and around 16,000 civilians.

More than 900,000 people – about 40 percent of Gaza’s population – have been displaced during the past two weeks, including some 812,000 people from Rafah and more than 100,000 others in northern Gaza, said U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric during a news briefing Monday.

He said that more than 75 percent of the Gaza Strip – some 285 square kilometers – is under evacuation orders, amid escalating hostilities.

“Under international humanitarian law, civilians – whether they move or stay – must be protected. Wherever they are in Gaza, their essential needs, including food, shelter, water and health, must be met,” Dujarric added.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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