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Biden Criticizes ICC Warrant Request Against Israel Despite Evidence of Genocide

Several international figures have described Israel’s disproportionate and indiscriminate war on Gaza as genocide.

President Joe Biden speaks at a reception celebrating Jewish American Heritage Month in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 20, 2024 in Washington, D.C.

During a speech in the White House Rose Garden on Monday, President Joe Biden denied that the attacks by Israel on Gaza and the witholding of critical humanitarian aid to the victims of those attacks, which have led to the deaths of tens of thousands of Palestinians since October, amounted to genocide.

Biden was giving the speech to mark the start of Jewish Heritage Month, though it seemed his words were meant to reassure voters who are supportive of Israel’s continued assault on Gaza that he wasn’t wavering in his own support for the country or its actions.

“What’s happening is not genocide. We reject that,” Biden said in his speech, adding:

I will always ensure Israel has everything it needs to defend itself against Hamas and all their enemies. We stand with Israel. … We want Hamas defeated; we will work with Israel to make that happen.

Biden also took a harsh tone with International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor Karim Khan’s decision to apply for arrest warrants of top military and political leaders of both Hamas and Israel.

“The ICC prosecutor’s application for arrest warrants against Israeli leaders is outrageous,” Biden claimed, stating that there is “no equivalence” between Israel and Hamas.

Khan made a formal request to the ICC to seek out prosecutions based on “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” that have happened in the region, including by Israel.

Khan’s charges against Hamas’s leaders relate to the group’s attacks on Israel on October 7, 2023, which led to the deaths of around 1,100. Charges against Israel relate to the disproportionate and indiscriminate response by Israel following those attacks, which have led to more than 36,000 Palestinians being killed, more than 40 percent of whom have been children, according to the latest figures. Nearly 80,000 Palestinians have also been injured, with more than 10,000 still missing.

In his specific charges toward Israel, Khan said that warrants against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant were being sought “in the crimes of causing extermination, causing starvation as a method of war, including the denial of humanitarian relief supplies, [and] deliberately targeting civilians in conflict.”

“Nobody is above the law,” Khan also said in an interview with CNN.

A panel of ICC judges will soon decide on whether Khan can pursue his charges.

Despite Biden’s claims, several international bodies and figures have already described Israel’s actions in Gaza as genocidal and in violation of international law. In March, for example, Francesca Albanese, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on human rights, issued a report titled “Anatomy of a Genocide,” in which she asserted there were “reasonable grounds” to believe genocide was indeed happening:

Israel has committed three acts of genocide with a requisite intent: killing members of the group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, and deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is demanding Biden not interfere with the seeking of warrants by the ICC, if a tribunal agrees with Khan’s calls for leaders’ arrests.

“Just as President Biden recognized that the International Criminal Court’s arrest warrant against Vladimir Putin due to war crimes in Ukraine was ‘justified,’ the president should do the same now regarding the arrest warrant applications sought by the ICC prosecutor against Benjamin Netanyahu due to war crimes in Gaza,” CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said in a statement. “War crimes are war crimes, regardless of whether they are committed by so-called American allies.”

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