Biden says what's happening in Gaza 'not genocide'

US President Joe Biden defended Israel’s ongoing onslaught in the Gaza Strip, saying Monday that what is happening in the besieged enclave is "not genocide."

"Let me be clear: contrary to allegations against Israel made by the International Court of Justice, what's happening is not genocide. We reject that," Biden said at a celebration for Jewish American Heritage Month at the White House.

Biden also rejected the decision by International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Karim Khan to seek arrest warrants for a pair of senior Israeli officials including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"Let me be clear: we reject the ICC's application for arrest warrants against Israeli leaders. Whenever these warrants may apply, there is no equivalence between Israel and Hamas," he added.

Earlier, Khan applied for arrest warrants against Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and three leaders of the Palestinian group Hamas, including political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh.

In a statement, Khan said he had reasonable grounds to believe that Netanyahu and Gallant bear criminal responsibility for "war crimes and crimes against humanity" committed on Palestine territory, specifically in the Gaza Strip, from at least Oct. 8 last year.

He added that his office had applied for arrest warrants for three Hamas leaders -- Haniyeh, as well as Yahya Sinwar and Mohammed Deif, for "war crimes and crimes against humanity" committed in Israel and the Gaza Strip "from at least 7 October 2023."

Israel has killed more than 35,500 Palestinians in Gaza since an Oct. 7 cross-border incursion by Hamas that claimed 1,200 lives. The air and ground attacks have reduced the Palestinian enclave to rubble, leading to mass internal displacement and a shortage of basic necessities.

It also triggered a trial at the International Court of Justice, which in January ordered Tel Aviv to ensure that its forces do not commit acts of genocide and take measures to guarantee humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

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