The International Criminal Court on May 20 announced arrest warrant applications for Hamas and Israeli leaders, including Yahya Sinwar (left), the head of Hamas in Gaza, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. .(Photos, left to right: AP/Adel Hana, Debbie Hill/Pool photo via AP)

CPJ welcomes ICC warrant applications for Hamas and Israeli leaders

New York, May 20, 2024—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) welcomes the International Criminal Court’s announcement on Monday that it was seeking arrest warrants for Hamas and Israeli leaders for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“The ICC’s application for arrest warrants for crimes against humanity in Israel and Palestine recognizes atrocities committed against civilians,” said CPJ CEO Jodie Ginsberg. “The civilian deaths include an unprecedented number of journalists killed since October 7. The ICC’s action is a promise for an end to the impunity that has historically plagued the killing and persecution of those who write the first draft of history.”  

Since the start of the war on October 7, 2023, CPJ has documented an unprecedented number of journalists killed, the vast majority of them killed by Israel in Gaza. As of May 20, 2024, at least 105 journalists have been killed: 100 Palestinian, two Israeli, and three Lebanese, according to CPJ research. Journalists are civilians according to international humanitarian law. The conflict claimed the lives of more journalists in three months than have ever been killed in a single country over an entire year.

CPJ research and multiple investigations show that at least three cases of journalists killed by Israel involved deliberate targeting; therefore these cases should be expedited for investigation. Another 10 cases may also involve deliberate targeting, which would constitute war crimes. CPJ encourages the ongoing ICC investigations to probe these killings and for Israel to grant investigators unrestricted access to Gaza. The denial of access to investigators, alongside the near-total ban on international journalists in Gaza, are obstacles that must be overcome.

CPJ is pursuing and supporting every possible path for accountability in the cases of violations against journalists. Prior to the war, CPJ exposed a disturbing pattern of Israeli actions, with a May 2023 report showing that in the 20 killings of journalists by the Israel Defense Forces over 22 years, no one had ever been charged or held to account.

CPJ recently filed an urgent appeal with the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention challenging the persecution of Palestinian journalists detained by Israel utilizing administrative detention under abusive conditions that have been described as torture. U.N. experts have previously called on Israel to discontinue the practice of administrative detention, given the likely violation of Articles 76 and 78 of the Geneva Conventions. CPJ is seeking to make additional filings in collaboration with the families of other jailed journalists.