Israel-Hamas war: Biden says Gaza offensive 'not genocide'


Tuesday, 21 May 2024 (10:17 IST)
US President Joe Biden said the Israeli offensive against Hamas militants in Gaza did not amount to "genocide."
South Africa filed a case at the International Court of Justice accusing Israel of violating the 1948 Geneva Convention.
Israel has said it was working in accordance with international law and has rejected the claims as being baseless.
"What's happening is not genocide, we reject that," Biden said, referring to the case at the UN's top court.
Biden also condemned the International Criminal Court's decision to seek arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his defense chief Yoav Gallant, over actions taken during their seven-month war.
Germany says ICC warrant requests create 'false impression of equivalence'
The German Foreign Ministry has said it respects the International Criminal Court, but that the requests for arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as top Hamas leaders, created a "false impression of equivalence."
"The simultaneous application for arrest warrants against the Hamas leaders on the one hand and the two Israeli officials on the other has given the false impression of equivalence," a Foreign Ministry spokesman said in a statement.
Earlier Monday, ICC prosecutor Karim Khan applied for arrest warrants against Netanyahu and Gallant as well as three top Hamas leaders on suspicion of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
South Africa welcomes ICC prosecutor's request for arrest warrants
South Africa has welcomed the ICC prosecutor's request for arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders. 
"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," the office of President Cyril Ramaphosa office said in a statement. 
"South Africa is committed to the international rule of law, universal respect for human rights and the settlement of all international disputes by negotiation and not war, and the self-determination of all peoples, including the Palestinians," he said. 
In a separate case, South Africa has urged the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to order an end to Israel's assault on Rafah, accusing Israel of intensifying what it calls "genocide" in Gaza.
It is part of a broader case in which Pretoria has accused Israel of committing "acts of genocide" against Palestinians in Gaza. Israel has denied the charge. 
Netanyahu rejects 'with disgust' ICC prosecutor's arrest bid
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahuhas rejected "with disgust" the ICC prosecutor's request for arrest warrants against him and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.
"As prime minister of Israel, I reject with disgust the Hague prosecutor's comparison between democratic Israel and the mass murders of Hamas," he said. 
Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders have condemned the move as antisemitic. 
ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan believes Netanyahu and Gallant are responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Gaza Strip.
Khan was also seeking an arrest warrant for three Hamas leaders on similar charges over crimes in Israel.
Netanyahu vowed to press ahead with the "just war" against Hamas that began on October 7 when the militants from Gaza crossed into Israel and killed some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took 250 others hostage.
"No pressure and no decision in any international forum will prevent us from striking those who seek to destroy us," said Netanyahu. 
Since Israel launched its operation in Gaza, more than 35,000 Palestinians have been killed in the fighting, at least half of them women and children, according to estimates by health officials in the Hamas-run territory.
Biden calls ICC prosecutors request for warrants 'outrageous'
US President Joe Bidenhas called the International Criminal Court prosecutor's decision to seek arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yoav Gallant "outrageous."
"Let me be clear: whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence — none — between Israel and Hamas. We will always stand with Israel against threats to its security," he said in a statement.
Biden's statement was echoed by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who said the prosecutor's decision to seek arrest warrants for Israeli officials and Hamas leaders was "shameful."
"We reject the prosecutor's equivalence of Israel with Hamas," Blinken said in a statement.
He warned the ICC arrest bids "could jeopardize" Israel-Hamas cease-fire talks, a hostage deal and efforts to increase humanitarian aid in Gaza.
The United States, like Israel, does not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC.
Israeli President Herzog calls ICC decision 'beyond outrageous'
The decision of the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to seek an arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant is "beyond outrageous," said Israeli President Isaac Herzog.
In a statement on X, formerly Twitter, Herzog said the decision "shows the extent to which the international judicial system is in danger of collapsing."
"Taken in bad faith, this one-sided move represents a unilateral political step that emboldens terrorists around the world, and violates all the basic rules of the court according to the principle of complementarity and other legal norms," Herzog said.
The decision also seeks arrest warrants for Hamas leaders of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, including political bureau chief head Ismail Haniyeh and Yahya Sinwar.
"Hamas' leaders are oppressive dictators guilty of launching mass murder, mass rape and mass kidnappings of men, women, children and babies," said Herzog, condemning "any attempt to draw parallels between these atrocious terrorists and a democratically elected government of Israel."
Herzog said he expected "all leaders in the free world to condemn outright this step and firmly reject it."

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