Defense Minister Benny Gantz says he will shield hundreds who are being targeted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) from a possible war crimes investigation and arrest after a major ruling last month.

When asked how many Israelis, including himself, might expect to be arrested if a probe leads to a criminal investigation, Gantz told Reuters: “I guess several hundred, but we will take care of everybody,” adding that his figure was “an estimate”.

“I was never afraid to go across enemy lines, I will continue to stand wherever I have to,” Gantz said.

He also said that Israel would provide legal assistance to any implicated Israelis and give them legal warnings regarding travel if necessary, adding that he himself has made no changes to his travel plans so far.

Gantz has previously slammed the ICC decision as “a tool in the hands of the enemies of the State of Israel, and those who seek to harm it through the political exploitation of international bodies”.

In February, the ICC said it had decided by a majority that its territorial jurisdiction “in the situation in Palestine” extends to territories held by Israel since the Six-Day War in 1967. That would be Gaza, the West Bank,  and East Jerusalem.

In December 2019, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said that there was sufficient evidence to open a full investigation into possible war crimes committed in the Palestinian territories.

The announcement was made after the conclusion of a nearly five-year preliminary examination into the situation in the Palestinian territories, which primarily focused on the 2014 Gaza War and Israel’s possible “intentionally launching disproportionate attacks”