France breaks away from allies, supports ICC decision on Israel and Hamas

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the international court's move 'could jeopardise' efforts for a ceasefire in Gaza


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Published: Tue 21 May 2024, 8:02 AM

France declared its support late Monday for the independence of the International Criminal Court, whose prosecutor has asked for arrest warrants for leaders from Israel, including Benjamin Netanyahu, and Hamas.

"France supports the International Criminal Court, its independence, and the fight against impunity in all situations," its foreign ministry said in a statement.

The ministry "condemned the anti-Semitic massacres perpetrated by Hamas" during the group's attack on Israel on October 7, which was "accompanied by acts of torture and sexual violence".

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The ministry also said it had warned Israel "of the need for strict compliance with international humanitarian law, and in particular of the unacceptable level of civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip and inadequate humanitarian access".

The International Criminal Court's prosecutor Karim Khan said on Monday he had applied for arrest warrants for Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant for crimes including "wilful killing", "extermination and/or murder", and "starvation" during the war in Gaza.

Khan also said the leaders of Palestinian militant group Hamas, including Qatar-based Ismail Haniyeh and Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar, "bear criminal responsibility" for actions committed during the October 7 attack.

"International law and the laws of armed conflict apply to all," Khan said. "No foot soldier, no commander, no civilian leader -- no one -- can act with impunity."

Israel rejected the accusations as a "historical disgrace", while Hamas said it "strongly condemns" the move.

The United States also rejected the ICC's bid, with President Joe Biden denouncing it as "outrageous" and saying "there is no equivalence -- none -- between Israel and Hamas".

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