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Israel, US Condemn ICC War Crimes Charges that Equate Israeli Leaders with Hamas

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JERUSALEM, Israel – Israel and the U.S. are kicking back hard against the International Criminal Court's accusations that Israel's prime minister and defense minister, along with Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar committed war crimes, thereby equating them.

Israel's Knesset met Monday to condemn the ICC accusations.

Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana declared, "I will not be able to open the meeting without referring to the scandalous decision of the prosecutor at the ICC which put the State of Israel, whatever its leadership, together with the murderous terrorist organization Hamas – which kidnapped, tortured, burned, butchered and murdered Jews for being Jews and Israelis for being Israelis.”

Despite political differences, a huge majority – 106 out of 120 members of parliament – signed a statement excoriating the ICC accusations.

It says in part, "The scandalous comparison by The Hague prosecutor between Israel's leaders and the heads of terror organizations in an unerasable, historic crime and a clear expression of antisemitism."

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The ICC's chief prosecutor said Monday he's seeking arrest warrants for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as three Hamas leaders, including Yahya Sinwar, for war crimes and crimes against humanity in connection with the current war.

In a strong statement, President Joe Biden criticized the prosecutor's action.

"Let me be clear. We reject the ICC's application for arrest warrants against Israel. Whatever these warrants may imply, there is no equivalence between Israel and Hamas. Contrary to allegations against Israel made by the International Court of Justice, what's happening is not genocide. We reject that," Biden said.

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France and Belgium backed the ICC's quest for arrests, but Italy called the move "unacceptable" and "absurd."

Netanyahu called the decision a "moral outrage of historic proportions" that would cast an everlasting mark of shame on the international court.

"Israel is waging a just war against Hamas, a genocidal terrorist organization that perpetrated the worst attack on the Jewish people since the Holocaust," the prime minister added. "Hamas massacred 1200 Jews, raped Jewish women, burned Jewish babies, took hundreds hostage."

He said the charges against him were meant to take away Israel's right to self-defense, but that it would not stop the war against Hamas.

"Now, in the face of these horrors, Mr. Khan creates a twisted and false moral equivalence between the leaders of Israel and the henchmen of Hamas," Netanyahu continued. "This is like creating a moral equivalence after September 11th between President Bush and Osama Bin Laden, or during World War II between FDR and Hitler. What a travesty of justice! What a disgrace!"

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Israeli President Isaac Herzog cautioned the decision only emboldens terrorists around the world.

"We will not forget who started this war –who raped, butchered, burnt, brutalized, and kidnapped innocent civilians and families," Herzog intoned. "We will not forget our hostages, whose safe return should be the main concern of the international community. We expect all leaders in the free world to condemn outright this step and firmly reject it."

Even War Cabinet minister Benny Gantz, who delivered an ultimatum to Netanyahu over the weekend, lashed out at the ICC's charges.

He stated, "Placing the leaders of a country that went into battle to protect its citizens in the same line with bloodthirsty terrorists – is moral blindness and a violation of its duty and ability to protect its citizens. Accepting the prosecutor’s position will harm the ability of any country to protect its citizens and will be a historic crime that will not be erased."

Meanwhile, the war in Gaza continues. The Israel Defense Forces announced the IDF has evacuated nearly a million civilians in just two weeks from Rafah. Around 300,000 to 400,000 Rafah civilians remain, mostly in the coastal area.

The speedy evacuation took place despite U.S. predictions that it would take nearly four months and result in high death tolls.

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About The Author

Julie Stahl

Julie Stahl is a correspondent for CBN News in the Middle East. A Hebrew speaker, she has been covering news in Israel fulltime for more than 20 years. Julie’s life as a journalist has been intertwined with CBN – first as a graduate student in Journalism; then as a journalist with Middle East Television (METV) when it was owned by CBN from 1989-91; and now with the Middle East Bureau of CBN News in Jerusalem since 2009. As a correspondent for CBN News, Julie has covered Israel’s wars with Gaza, rocket attacks on Israeli communities, stories on the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and