International Criminal Court Judge Karim Khan has asked to issue an arrest warrant for the leaders of Israel and Hamas terrorists "for war crimes." The case concerns the victims of the attack on Israel on October 7, 2023, and Israel's retaliatory war in the Gaza Strip.

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The United States and most Western allies were outraged that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could be put on a par with terrorists.

The fact that the United States is defending Israel's case will not affect the ICC's permission to arrest Putin, Oleh Havrysh, a consultant from the President's Office and a member of the group that created the tribunal, tells Ukraine and its partners are preparing another tribunal that could bring the Russian dictator and Russian authorities to justice.

We explored whether possible arrest warrant for Netanyahu negate Putin's prospects of being put on trial?

Equated to terror. What the ICC suspects Netanyahu of

On May 20, Prosecutor Karim Khan asked the ICC for an arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and three leaders of the Palestinian terrorist movement Hamas. Khan suggests that they are all guilty of war crimes.

Netanyahu and Gallant are suspected of using starvation as a method of warfare and of killing civilians. Now the ICC judges must decide whether there are sufficient grounds to issue an arrest warrant for them.

The charges are absurd, Netanyahu said in response: he "rejected with disgust" the attempt to put Israel's democratically elected leaders on the same level as the mass murderers of Hamas".

Плакат партії Лікуд у Тель-Авіві про дружбу Нетаньяху та Путіна перед виборами в Ізраїлі в липні 2019-го (Фото:  EPA-EFE/ABIR SULTAN)
A poster of the Likud party in Tel Aviv about the friendship between Netanyahu and Putin before the elections in Israel in July 2019 (Photo: EPA-EFE/ABIR SULTAN)

"Khan is abusing his powers and turning the ICC into nothing more than a farce. He is callously pouring gasoline on the fires of anti-Semitism that are raging around the world," he said.

The charges are related to the events of October 7, 2023, when Hamas militants attacked Israel, killing about 1,200 people and taking 252 hostages. This attack provoked a war that continues to this day, in which, according to Hamas terrorists, more than 35,500 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed.

US President Biden supported Israel, stating that Israelis and Hamas cannot be compared, and that the United States does not consider the actions in Gaza to be genocide. United Kingdom, Italy, and Germany are of a similar opinion.

The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed support for the ICC, "its independence and the fight against impunity in every situation." Paris condemned the "anti-Semitic massacre" by Hamas, but warned Jerusalem "of the unacceptable level of civilian casualties in Gaza."

The United States believes that the ICC has no jurisdiction over the events in the Gaza Strip, and that there can be no equal sign between Israel and Hamas, Yuriy Bilous, head of the NGO Justice for Ukrainians and a lawyer who collects evidence of Russian war crimes in Ukraine, tells

This is because the form makes it look like Israel and Hamas are on the same plane, but they are not, according to the United States.

The European Parliament and France, on the other hand, said that the ICC is an independent court and should investigate all war crimes, regardless of who committed them: "It makes no difference which country's child was killed in the war."

"The reaction of the United States may influence how other countries will look at Putin's arrest warrant. But this is a political plane, not a legal one, in which the cases of Ukraine and Israel have no connection," Bilous says.

If the ICC does issue the warrants, Netanyahu, the longest-serving prime minister in the country's history, will not be able to visit Western allies without risking arrest: The Rome Statute is signed by 124 countries, including Palestine (but not Russia, China, the United States or Israel).

Most likely, the warrants will be issued, Bilous believes.

The International Criminal Court, headquartered in The Hague, was founded in 2002. Its goal is to prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. A person who has been issued a warrant can be arrested in all countries that have accepted the court's jurisdiction.

The ICC has issued arrest warrants for former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, son of the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi Saif, and Putin. Israeli Prime Minister may become the first leader of a democratic country on the list.

Why an arrest warrant for Putin is a different matter

On March 17, 2023, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Putin and Russian Children's Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova. They were accused of a war crime – the illegal abduction and forced transfer of Ukrainian children from the occupied territories to Russia.

As for the warrant for Putin, the Israeli case does not affect this, as the cases are completely different, Oleh Havrysh, chief consultant to the Office of the President, tells "The warrant for Putin is in effect, Ukraine welcomes it and hopes that he will be punished."

The warrant for Putin, as well as the case of Russia's missile attacks on Ukrainian cities – two more ICC warrants were issued for this case against the commander of the long-range aviation of the Russian Aerospace Forces, Sergei Kobylash, and the commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, Viktor Sokolov – are as far removed from the Israeli war as possible. They are not connected in any way, Bilous assures.

Putin and Lvova-Belova even boasted in the Russian media about the abduction of Ukrainian children, which can be considered evidence – "almost a guilty plea to a crime," Havrysh says.

"Ukraine is already on the verge of creating a separate tribunal to convict the top military and political leadership of the Russian Federation for the crime of aggression. There is already a decision of the Council of Europe to this effect. Now we are trying to persuade our partners to lift the immunity of Putin, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin," adds Havrysh.

It is more realistic to get punishment for the crime of aggression than for the abduction of children, because it is easier to prove Putin's guilt, the presidency consultant says: "We have claims against the entire top leadersip of Russia, they must be held accountable. We are working in this direction with the ICC and other bodies."

The ICC's warrant for Putin is valid, and he should be arrested in the countries that are parties to the court's action, Bilous says. "They can even arrest him in other countries that are not parties. The case of child abduction is ongoing, and other evidence is being collected and processed. In most cases, the ICC does not publicize its work. We may not even know that a warrant has been issued for someone.

As a result, the world may believe that Putin, who kills Ukrainians, is no worse than Netanyahu, who is suspected of crimes against the Palestinians. And if the United States has sided with Netanyahu, then Putin is not such a criminal.