How Amal Clooney became instrumental in ICC action against Netanyahu, Hamas leaders

She was part of a panel which studied proof of suspected war crimes in Israel, Gaza

Amal Alamuddin Amal Clooney with her husband George Clooney | Reuters

As the International Criminal Court's (ICC) prosecutor seeks arrest warrants for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas leaders amas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Ismail Haniyeh, and Mohammed Deif,, the focus has shifted to renowned human rights lawyer Amal Clooney who played a significant role in weighing the evidence that led to the ICC decision.

Clooney, who has represented hundreds of victims of violence and mass atrocities, said in a statement on Wednesday that she was approached by the ICC prosecutor more than four months ago. Her participation was sought in a panel of legal and academic experts who would study evidence of suspected war crimes and crimes against humanity in Israel and Gaza.

This comes as ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan announced that he would seek arrest warrants for Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant for their efforts to starve the Palestinian civilian population of Gaza. He also proposed charges against the Hamas leadership for atrocities on 7 October as well as the mistreatment of the hostages since then.

Khan’s warrant applications will now be considered by a panel of ICC judges.

Interestingly, Clooney's statement comes as she was subjected to heavy online trolling for her "silence" about the Palestinian cause. The Lebanese-born barrister's foundation has been very vocal about press freedom and legal issues in Venezuela, Thailand and the United Kingdom. 

She has represented many, including Armenia in a genocide case, as well as individuals such as Australian WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and the former president of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed.

"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," Clooney said in a statement. 

She added: "Despite our diverse personal backgrounds, our legal findings are unanimous. We have unanimously determined that the Court has jurisdiction over crimes committed in Palestine and by Palestinian nationals."

She said she joined the panel because she believes in protecting civilian lives. "The law that protects civilians in war was developed more than 100 years ago, and it applies in every country in the world regardless of the reasons for a conflict," she said.

Clooney, who is a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers in London and an adjunct professor at Columbia Law School, is married to the actor George Clooney. The duo co-founded the Clooney Foundation for Justice, which gives free legal support to victims of abuses of power.


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