Amal Clooney played key role in Netanyahu arrest warrant recommendation


Amal Clooney has revealed she was on the panel of international legal experts who recommended seeking arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli and Hamas leaders.

The human rights lawyer and wife of actor George Clooney wrote about assisting with evaluating evidence of suspected war crimes and crimes against humanity in Israel and Gaza, in a post on the couple’s Clooney Foundation for Justice website.

She and other international law experts unanimously agreed to recommend that International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor Karim Khan seek the arrest warrants.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a ceremony marking Memorial Day for fallen soldiers of Israel's wars and victims of attacks, at Jerusalem's Mount Herzl military cemetery, May 13, 2024. GIL COHEN-MAGEN/Pool via REUTERS
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he rejects the application ‘with disgust’. Pic: Gil Cohen-Magen/via Reuters

Mr Khan has alleged Mr Netanyahu, Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant and Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif and Ismail Haniyeh were responsible for war crimes in both Gaza and Israel.

Mr Netanyahu has said he rejects “with disgust” the prosecutor’s “comparison between democratic Israel and the mass murderers of Hamas”.

Mrs Cooney, who had previously faced criticism online for not speaking out publicly on the war, has now said she joined the panel more than four months ago and supports the “historic step” in seeking the warrants.

“I served on this panel because I believe in the rule of law and the need to protect civilian lives,” she wrote.

“As a human rights lawyer, I will never accept that one child’s life has less value than another’s. I do not accept that any conflict should be beyond the reach of the law, nor that any perpetrator should be above the law.

“So I support the historic step that the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has taken to bring justice to victims of atrocities in Israel and Palestine.”

In a statement on the warrants, Mr Khan said he has reasonable grounds to believe the Hamas leaders “bear criminal responsibility” for “war crimes and crimes against humanity”.

He outlined a list of alleged crimes, including murder, taking hostages and rape and other acts of sexual violence.

On Mr Netanyahu and his defence minister Mr Gallant, Mr Khan said he has reasonable grounds to believe they too “bear criminal responsibility” for “war crimes and crimes against humanity”.

He outlined a list of alleged crimes, including “starvation of civilians” and “intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population”.

In her statement on the panel’s recommendations, Mrs Clooney added that she hoped “witnesses will co-operate with the ongoing investigation” and that “justice will prevail in a region that has already suffered too much”.

Read more:
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Reacting to the ICC’s decision, Mr Netanyahu said: “With what audacity do you compare Hamas that murdered, burned, butchered, decapitated, raped and kidnapped our brothers and sisters and the IDF soldiers fighting a just war.

“No pressure and no decision in any international forum will prevent us from striking those who seek to destroy us.”

US President Joe Biden said the move by the ICC prosecutor was “outrageous”, adding: “Let me be clear: whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence – none – between Israel and Hamas.”

A spokesman for UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the ICC’s action was “not helpful in relation to reaching a pause in the fighting, getting hostages out or getting humanitarian aid in”.

A panel of three ICC judges must consider Mr Khan’s application, in a process that takes an average of two months.

The court has no means to enforce arrest warrants and its investigation into the Gaza war has long been opposed by the US and Israel.

As Israel is not a member of the ICC, neither Mr Netanyahu nor Mr Gallant would be at immediate risk of arrest should the judges agree to issue warrants, although it could make it difficult for the Israeli leaders to travel abroad.

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