The decision of Karim Khan, the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor, to publicly seek arrest warrants for the leaders of Hamas and Israel this week will be one of the most significant and contentious of his career.

Khan accused three Hamas leaders of war crimes and crimes against humanity relating to the Oct. 7 attack on Israel and hostage taking. He also accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant of war crimes and crimes against humanity during Israel’s military operation in the Gaza Strip, including the starvation of civilians. Now a three-judge panel will consider whether to issue the warrants.

Some countries welcomed the news as a sign that all individuals, regardless of their state or status, are equal before the law, while others — including the United States, Israel’s most important ally — denounced the charges and accused Khan of false equivalence in pursuing warrants for Hamas and Israeli leaders at the same time.