Israel slams Germany for saying it would arrest, deport Netanyahu if ICC issues warrant

German spokesperson says ‘of course’ when asked whether Berlin would comply with potential ICC order; spokesman for PM responds by saying ‘many need to check their moral compass’

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, left, shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during a press conference in Jerusalem, March 17, 2024. (GPO)
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, left, shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during a press conference in Jerusalem, March 17, 2024. (GPO)

Israel on Thursday slammed a statement from German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s office that Berlin would arrest and deport Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu if the International Criminal Court implements a warrant for his arrest.

“I am old enough to remember the German leader coming here days after October 7, and stating that Hamas are the new Nazis. They seek a genocide against the Jews. Many in the world need to check their moral compass and be on the right side of history,” government spokesman Avi Hyman told Fox News. (It was Netanyahu, not Scholz, who said “Hamas are the new Nazis” during the German chancellor’s visit to Israel.)

When asked on Wednesday whether Berlin would execute a potential ICC arrest order, German spokesman Steffen Hebestreit responded, “Of course. Yes, we abide by the law.”

Israel’s ambassador to Germany, Ron Prosor, also decried the statement in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

“This is outrageous!” he  wrote. “The public statement that Israel has the right to self-defense loses credibility if our hands are tied as soon as we defend ourselves.”

Prosor added that Germany’s “Staatsräson,” a term that refers to ensuring Israel’s security as one of the European country’s “reason of state,” was “being put to the test.”

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant delivers a statement to the press at the Kirya base in Tel Aviv, May 15, 2024. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan “equates a democratic government with Hamas, thereby demonizing and delegitimizing Israel and the Jewish people. He has completely lost his moral compass. Germany has a responsibility to readjust this compass,” Prosor added.

Khan announced earlier this week that he was seeking arrest warrants against Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant for “causing extermination, causing starvation as a method of war including the denial of humanitarian relief supplies, deliberately targeting civilians in conflict.”

In the same announcement, Khan said he was seeking warrants for Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’s ruler in Gaza; the terror group’s military chief, Mohammed Deif; and the leader of the organization, Ismail Haniyeh. He said they would be charged with extermination, murder, hostage-taking, rape, and sexual assault.

Israel has strongly rejected the charges, denouncing the court for implicitly comparing Israeli leaders to Hamas terrorists.

Following Khan’s statement, multiple allies of Israel spoke out against it, including Germany, which said that seeking arrest warrants for Hamas leaders was logical and no comparisons could be made with Israel’s prime minister and defense minister. German Ambassador to Israel Steffen Seibert also said that “Germany respects independence and procedures of the ICC.”

Israel had been planning to host Khan for a visit in recent weeks to show him how decisions are made in a bid to prevent him from seeking arrest warrants for Israeli officials, but the country was taken by surprise by his announcement on Monday.

The war in Gaza began on October 7 with Hamas’s unprecedented attack on Israel in which terrorists rampaged through southern Israel, murdering some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, while also committing systemic acts of sexual violence. They also took 252 hostages.

In response, Israel launched a ground invasion of Gaza with the proclaimed intention of dismantling Hamas and getting the hostages back.

International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan poses during an interview with AFP at the Cour d’Honneur of the Palais Royal in Paris on February 7, 2024. (Dimitar DILKOFF / AFP)

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says more than 35,000 people in the Strip have been killed or are presumed dead in the fighting so far, though only some 24,000 fatalities have been identified at hospitals. The toll, which cannot be verified as it does not differentiate between terrorists and civilians, includes some 15,000 terror operatives Israel says it has killed in battle.

Israel also says it killed some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.

The IDF says 286 soldiers have been killed during the ground offensive against Hamas and amid operations along the Gaza border. A civilian Defense Ministry contractor has also been killed in the Strip.

Lazar Berman contributed to this report.

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