Revealed: Lawyer pushing for Netanyahu arrest warrant said October 7 was legally justified

The ICC is reportedly close to issuing war crimes indictments against the Israeli PM, Defence Minister and Chief of Staff


Lawyers Mrari (left) and Shouli (right) with French advocate Gilles Devers

Lawyers who claimed the October 7 massacre was legally justified and that Israel had no right to self-defence in Gaza are key figures in the push to have Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders prosecuted in the International Criminal Court (ICC), the JC can reveal.

The ICC’s chief prosecutor, British barrister Karim Khan KC, is reportedly close to issuing war crimes indictments against the Israeli prime minister, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi – a move that Netanyahu has said would constitute an “antisemitic hate crime”.

Khaled al-Shouli said in a televised interview screened the day following the October 7 massacre that the attack was justified under international law. Abdelmajid Mrari, a French-Algerian, has referred to the terror group as a “resistance movement”. Both lawyers are key members of a group of some 600 lawyers from around the world who have filed evidence about the current conflict to the ICC.

The men were pictured with French lawyer Gilles Devers – who filed the first of many complaints to the ICC about Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in 2009 – delivering a dossier of evidence to the court on November 14.

Afterwards Devers gave a statement addressed to Palestinians, saying: “You had no one to defend you, but now you now have an army to defend you in international and national courts.”

On the same day Mrari claimed – citing Article 51 of the UN Charter – that the fact Israel was an “occupier” in Gaza meant it had no legal right to self-defence.

Both Mrari and Al-Shouli, who are based in France, have represented Hamas or its members in previous court actions.

Last year Mrari filed a suit with the ICC asking it to issue an order to lift Israel’s Gaza “siege” on behalf of eight Palestinian politicians led by a senior Hamas official, Ahmad Bahar. In a sermon televised in 2012, Bahar asked Allah to “kill the Jews and their supporters, the Americans and their supporters, without leaving a single one”.

In TV interviews since the October massacre, Mrari has referred to Hamas the “the resistance” and as a “resistance movement” several times. In February, he twice appeared as a guest on the Lebanese Al Mayadeen channel, which openly supports Iran and its terrorist proxy, Hezbollah.

Al-Shouli played a key role in a case fought on behalf of Hamas in the European Union’s court system which sought to remove its EU designation as a terror group. He achieved apparent victory in 2014, sparking dismay from Israel and the international Jewish community, although the decision was reversed on appeal three years later.

Meanwhile, he was for many years the head of the French Comité de Bienfaisance et de Solidarité avec la Palestine (CBSP) and its Swiss offshoot, the Association de Secours Palestiniens (ASP).

In 2003, the US government placed both organisations on its list of Specially Designated Terrorist entities, claiming they were raising funds for Hamas. The CBSP and ASP denied this, but they were later also sanctioned by Australia and Israel.

Although reports of pending arrest warrants being prepared for Netanyahu, Gallant and Halevi have not been confirmed by the ICC, Netanyahu has mounted a diplomatic offensive to stop it happening. His pushback is strongly supported by the Biden administration and other leading political figures in the US.

Israel does not recognise the ICC’s jurisdiction, which means it is unlikely that warrants would lead to any arrests.

However, by equating Netanyahu with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, who was indicted for war crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine last year, they would fortify campaigns in countries friendly to Israel to stop selling it arms.

The ICC, which deals with allegations against individuals, is separate from the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which is concerned with the actions of states, although both are based in The Hague.

Contrary to a narrative believed by most anti-Israel activists, the ICJ did not find that there was a plausible case of genocide in Gaza but rather that the Palestinians had the plausible right to be protected from genocide. Earlier this week it declined to order Germany to stop selling weapons to Israel and to order it to resume funding Unwra, the UN aid agency accused of involvement with Hamas.

Nevertheless, the ICC determined in 2021 that it does have jurisdiction over the Occupied Territories – Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank – because the Palestinian Authority has recognised the court. Khan began an official investigation into possible crimes committed by both Israel and Hamas shortly after the October massacre.

On October 8, Al-Shouli gave an interview to the Algerian Almagharibia channel, which is still available on YouTube. Asked whether he believed “Al-Aqsa Flood” – Hamas’s name for the massacre – was a “reaction to Israeli violations”, Al-Shouli said it was, and as such, could be justified under international law.

He accepted there may have been “some violations” by Hamas, but went on: “We know that the Palestinian side has the intention to respect the rules of international law because the Palestinian side has already… become a member of the ICC.” Israel, he went on, was “not committed to international law” because it had not recognised the ICC.

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