Israel-Hamas War and Gaza News: Latest Updates - The World News

Israel-Hamas War and Gaza News: Latest Updates

If the headlines in Israel were anything to go by, the request by the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor for an arrest warrant against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seemed to have granted the Israeli leader one of the most fortuitous turnarounds in his long and turbulent political career.

“The Hypocrisy of The Hague,” blared Tuesday’s front page of Yediot Ahronot, a popular mainstream daily that has often been critical of Mr. Netanyahu.

Echoing the outrage expressed by Israelis across the political spectrum, and abandoning any semblance of impartiality, the front page denounced “the intolerable gall” of the chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, for what it described as putting Israel alongside the leaders of Hamas who “seek to annihilate it.”

The threat of arrest warrants comes against Mr. Netanyahu and his defense minister, Yoav Gallant, as well as three leaders of Hamas, on charges of war crimes from the devastating Hamas-led attack on Israel on Oct. 7 and Israel’s punishing retaliatory campaign in Gaza.

It appeared to broadly galvanize his opposition. Political rivals in Israel offered support. American officials, who had been critical of his plan to invade Rafah, roundly condemned the I.C.C. action.

In the hours and days before, Mr. Netanyahu had appeared embattled, both domestically and internationally.

The Israeli public had become increasingly frustrated with the government’s failure, over seven months, to achieve its stated war goals of eliminating Hamas and bringing the 128 hostages who remain in Gaza, alive and dead, back home. Mr. Netanyahu’s emergency war cabinet was on the brink of falling apart.

Two key war cabinet members, Mr. Gallant and Benny Gantz, a former military chief, had publicly excoriated Mr. Netanyahu in recent days for failing to develop a plan for governing Gaza. Mr. Gantz had even issued an ultimatum, saying his centrist party would quit the government if Mr. Netanyahu did not come up with a clear strategy by June 8.

Israel has also been facing significant pressure to end its offensive from the United States, its most important ally. And as Israel’s Parliament reconvened on Monday after spring recess, it became the focus of resurgent antigovernment protests reminiscent of those that rocked the country for months before the war.

Demonstrators protested the Netanyahu government and called for a hostage deal in Jerusalem on Monday.Credit…Amir Levy/Getty Images

But Mr. Netanyahu, a renowned political phoenix, may have been given a political lifeline and a new boost of popular support, at least for a little while.

“For now, it strengthens Netanyahu,” said Ben Caspit, a biographer and longtime critic of the prime minister and a columnist for Al-Monitor, a Middle East news site. “He is happiest in the role of the persecuted victim,” Mr. Caspit said of Mr. Netanyahu, adding that the international court’s opprobrium is likely to bring supporters who had grown sick of the conservative leader back into the fold.

Mr. Caspit said the chief prosecutor had, in Israel’s view, scored his “own goal” by creating an impression of equivalence between the leaders of Hamas, designated as a terrorist group by much of the West, and Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Gallant, who would be the first leaders of a democratic country to be indicted by the court.

That perceived affront has rallied Israelis and some of Israel’s foreign allies in a way that even Hamas had failed to do in recent months. About 1,200 people were killed in the Oct. 7 assault, Israel says, making it the deadliest single day for Jews since the Holocaust. More than 35,000 Palestinians have been killed, according to the Gaza health ministry, in the ensuing war.

Mr. Netanyahu’s political rivals from within the government and the opposition have formed a united front against the court.

In a statement on Tuesday, Mr. Gallant described “the parallel” Mr. Khan had drawn between Hamas and the state of Israel as “despicable.” And Mr. Gallant was likely re-evaluating his options, according to experts.

The court process places Mr. Gallant, Mr. Netanyahu’s in-party rival, “in the same boat,” said Yonatan Touval, a senior analyst at Mitvim, an Israeli foreign policy research institute, adding, “Gantz will be hard pressed to leave the government.”

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *