Gazans Say I.C.C. Prosecutor’s Pursuit of Hamas Leaders Is Misguided

Palestinians in Gaza expressed mixed feelings after the chief prosecutor at the world’s top criminal court said he was seeking arrest warrants for leaders of both Israel and Hamas on war crimes charges, a move that many said equated victim with perpetrator.

“We deplore, denounce and are surprised by the decision of the International Criminal Court which places the accused, the victim, and the executioner in one cage,” said Zahir Essam, a 55-year-old living in Gaza City.

Karim Khan, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, announced on Monday his decision to apply for arrest warrants for Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’s leader in Gaza; Muhammad Deif, Hamas’s military chief; and Ismail Haniyeh, the movement’s Qatar-based top political official. He also said he would seek warrants for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant of Israel.

The announcement in effect treated Israeli officials and Hamas leaders in the same way, despite what Mr. Essam sees as a power imbalance between the two sides in the conflict in Gaza, which began when Hamas led an attack on Israel on Oct. 7.

That attack killed about 1,200 people, and about 240 others were taken hostage, Israeli officials say. Israel’s retaliatory war in Gaza has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians, according to Gazan health authorities, though their figures do not distinguish between civilians and combatants.

Many Palestinians view the Oct. 7 attack as a justified response to Israeli violations during the decades-long Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

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