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ICC prosecutor cancels visit to Gaza ahead of announcement of Netanyahu arrest warrant - Reuters

ICC prosecutor cancels visit to Gaza ahead of announcement of Netanyahu arrest warrant - Reuters International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan (photo: Getty Images)

ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan canceled his visit to the Gaza Strip on the same day he announced requests for arrest warrants for the leaders of Israel and Hamas, according to Reuters.

According to sources, the visit had been planned for several months in coordination with American officials. Sources indicate that Khan's decision to request ICC warrants disrupted plans, supported by Washington and London, for the prosecutor and his team to visit Gaza and Israel. The court intended to collect evidence of war crimes on-site and give Israeli leaders their first opportunity to present their position and any actions taken in response to war crime allegations.

Khan's request for an arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu marks the first attempt by the court to detain a current head of state supported by the West. The ICC Prosecutor's Office stated that the decision to request arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders was made based on the prosecutor's assessment of sufficient evidence and the belief that immediate warrants could prevent ongoing crimes.

Background on ICC warrants

In May of this year, Karim Khan, the ICC's Chief Prosecutor, announced his attempts to secure arrest warrants for Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar. The international community was stunned by the news. Israel expressed dissatisfaction with the plans to issue an arrest warrant for Netanyahu. At the same time, US President Joe Biden voiced his discontent with the ICC's plans regarding Netanyahu. Additionally, US House Speaker Mike Johnson did not rule out the possibility of imposing sanctions against the ICC if an arrest warrant for Netanyahu were issued.