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Amal Clooney Advised ICC Prosecutor to Seek Arrest Warrants Against Netanyahu & Gallant

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Edited by: Fern Sidman

In a significant development in the realm of international justice, human rights attorney Amal Clooney has been actively involved in advising the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Karim Khan on seeking arrest warrants against senior leaders of Israel and Hamas. According to a report on the CNN web site, this advisory role culminated in the issuance of a comprehensive legal report on Monday, which concluded that there are “reasonable grounds to believe” that the individuals named in the arrest warrants have committed war crimes or crimes against humanity.

The panel of legal experts, including Clooney, was convened by ICC prosecutor Karim Khan with the specific task of reviewing the evidence and legal analyses underpinning his application for warrants. As was noted in the CNN report, this application targets three Hamas leaders and two Israeli politicians, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The panel’s findings, presented in a detailed legal report, emphasize that the evidence supports the issuance of arrest warrants. These findings align with the ICC’s mandate to prosecute individuals for the most serious offenses of international concern, including genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

Amal Clooney, known for her extensive work in representing victims of mass atrocities, has faced criticism for her perceived silence on the situation in Gaza. Addressing this, Clooney shared a statement on the Clooney Foundation for Justice website, detailing her involvement with the ICC.

“More than four months ago, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court asked me to assist him with evaluating evidence of suspected war crimes and crimes against humanity in Israel and Gaza,” Clooney stated, as per the information contained in the CNN report. “I agreed and joined a panel of international legal experts to undertake this task.”

Clooney highlighted that despite the panel members’ diverse backgrounds, their findings were unanimous. Indicated in the CNN report was that she emphasized her commitment to the rule of law and the protection of civilian lives, noting that the laws safeguarding civilians in times of war have been in place for over a century and apply universally, irrespective of the conflict’s origins.

The involvement of a high-profile human rights attorney such as Amal Clooney brings additional attention to the ICC’s proceedings. Clooney’s participation lends credence to the process.

Clooney’s advisory role and the ICC’s broader actions have not been without controversy. Critics argue that the focus on Israel and Hamas might be politically motivated or could exacerbate the conflict, as was pointed out in the CNN report.  Conversely, supporters contend that holding leaders accountable is essential for justice and long-term peace.

The legal panel, composed of distinguished figures such as Theodor Meron, former President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and Lord Justice Fulford, a former ICC judge, was tasked with reviewing the evidence and legal analyses supporting the prosecutor’s application for arrest warrants, according to the information provided in the CNN report.

In their detailed report, the panel concluded that there are substantial grounds to believe that Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif, and Ismail Haniyeh have committed serious crimes, including hostage-taking, murder, and sexual violence, as was detailed in the CNN report. These findings are based on extensive evidence and legal analysis, highlighting the systematic nature of these alleged crimes.

Similarly, the panel found “reasonable grounds to believe” that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant are culpable for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The charges against them include the use of starvation as a method of warfare, murder, persecution, and extermination, CNN reported.

The findings of this expert panel will now be reviewed by a panel of ICC judges, who will consider prosecutor Khan’s application for the arrest warrants. This step is crucial in determining whether formal charges will be brought against the individuals identified in the report.

The reaction to the panel’s conclusions and the potential issuance of arrest warrants has been swift and polarized. Both Hamas and Israeli politicians have condemned the move. CNN reported that Prime Minister Netanyahu described the decision as a “travesty of justice” and an “outrageous decision” that falsely equates the actions of Israeli leaders with those of Hamas operatives. This response reflects the deep divisions and the high stakes involved in the ICC’s potential intervention in the conflict.

The ICC’s claim to jurisdiction over Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank is based on the Palestinian leaders’ formal agreement to be bound by the court’s founding principles in 2015. CNN also noted that neither Israel nor the United States is a member of the ICC, adding layers of complexity to the court’s decision. The legal basis for the ICC’s involvement rests on the acceptance of its jurisdiction by the Palestinian Authority, which has been a contentious issue given the political and territorial disputes in the region.

The Biden administration swiftly and forcefully denounced the ICC’s move. President Joe Biden issued a statement emphasizing the lack of equivalence between Israel and Hamas, reflecting longstanding U.S. support for Israel. “Whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence – none – between Israel and Hamas,” Biden declared, according to the CNN report.

Clooney, a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers in London and an adjunct professor at Columbia Law School, has a notable track record. According to the information in the CNN report, she has represented Yazidi victims of genocide in the only three genocide cases against ISIS members worldwide. Her work also includes representing victims of genocide in Sudan’s Darfur and securing freedom for political prisoners, including journalists and opposition figures.

In her statement, Clooney emphasized the panel’s unanimous findings and her belief in the rule of law and the protection of 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,” Clooney asserted, as was affirmed in the CNN report.

 

However, the ICC’s actions also risk deepening political divides and provoking backlash from powerful states like the United States. The potential issuance of arrest warrants could lead to significant diplomatic tensions and complicate efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

 

 

 

 

 

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