June 14th, 2024

Amal Clooney is one of the legal experts who recommended war crimes charges in Israel-Hamas war

By The Associated Press on May 20, 2024.

FILE - Amal Clooney, left, and George Clooney arrive at a screening of "The Tender Bar," Oct. 3, 2021, at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles. Amal Clooney is one of the legal experts who recommended that the world's top war crimes court seek arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and leaders of the militant Hamas group, Clooney announced Monday, May 20, 2024. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

Amal Clooney is one of the legal experts who recommended that the chief prosecutor of the world’s top war crimes court seek arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and leaders of the militant Hamas group.

The human rights lawyer and wife of actor George Clooney wrote of her participation in a letter posted Monday on the website of the couple’s Clooney Foundation for Justice. She said she and other experts in international law unanimously agreed to recommend that International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Karim Khan seek the warrants.

Khan announced his intention to do so on Monday, saying that actions taken by both Israeli leaders and Hamas in the seven-month war in Gaza amounted to war crimes.

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

The panel comprised experts in international humanitarian law and international criminal law, and two of its members are former judges at criminal tribunals in The Hague, where the ICC is based, Clooney wrote. She added that their decision was unanimous. The panel also published an op-ed about its recommendation in the Financial Times on Monday.

A panel of three judges at the ICC will decide whether to issue the arrest warrants and allow a case to proceed. The judges typically take two months to make such decisions.

In his announcement Monday, Khan accused Netanyahu, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and three Hamas leaders – Yehia Sinwar, Mohammed Deif and Ismail Haniyeh – of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Gaza Strip and Israel.

Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders condemned the move as disgraceful and antisemitic. U.S. President Joe Biden also lambasted the prosecutor and supported Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas.

Israel is not a member of the court, so even if the arrest warrants are issued, Netanyahu and Gallant do not face any immediate risk of prosecution. But the threat of arrest could make it difficult for the Israeli leaders to travel abroad. Hamas is already considered an international terrorist group by the West.

The latest war between Israel and Hamas began on Oct. 7, when militants from Gaza crossed into Israel and killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took 250 others hostage.

Since then, Israel has waged a brutal campaign to dismantle Hamas in Gaza. More than 35,000 Palestinians have been killed in the fighting, at least half of them women and children, according to the latest estimates by Gaza health officials, who do not distinguish between civilians and Hamas militants.

The war has triggered a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, displacing roughly 80% of the population and leaving hundreds of thousands of people on the brink of starvation, according to U.N. officials.

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