Amal Clooney supports ICC seeking arrest warrants for Netanyahu and Hamas chiefs

Amal Clooney said she supports the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the “historic step” to seek the arrest warrants of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli and Hamas leaders.

The ICC chief prosecutor Karim 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.

Barrister Ms Clooney said she joined a panel of international legal experts “more than four months ago” to assist Mr Khan with evaluating evidence of suspected war crimes and crimes against humanity in Israel and Gaza.

World premiere of Ticket to Paradise
George Clooney and Amal Clooney married in 2014 (Ian West/PA)

The 46-year-old, who married Hollywood actor George Clooney in 2014, said the panel unanimously concluded there are “reasonable grounds to believe” the Hamas leaders named by Mr Khan have committed war crimes “including hostage-taking, murder and crimes of sexual violence”.

The panel also unanimously concluded there are “reasonable grounds to believe” Mr Netanyahu and Mr Gallant have committed war crimes including “starvation as a method of warfare, murder, persecution and extermination”.

“I served on this panel because I believe in the rule of law and the need to protect civilian lives,” the co-founder of the Clooney Foundation for Justice said on her website.

“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.”

Ms 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”.

She was joined on the panel by Sir Adrian Fulford, Judge Theodor Meron, Danny Friedman, Baroness Helena Kennedy and Elizabeth Wilmshurst.

It comes after the UK Government said the arrest warrant applications will not help achieve its aims of a sustainable ceasefire in Gaza.

“We do not believe that seeking warrants will help get hostages out, get aid in, or deliver a sustainable ceasefire,” a UK Government spokesperson said.

“This remains the UK’s priority.

“As we have said from the outset, we do not think the ICC has jurisdiction in this case. The UK has not yet recognised Palestine as a state, and Israel is not a state party to the Rome Statute.”

Israeli Prime Minister
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The Rome Statute seeks to ensure ICC jurisdiction over alleged crimes committed “in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, since June 13, 2014”.

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

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, but it could make it difficult for either man to travel abroad.

Two of the Hamas leaders named by Mr Khan are believed to be in hiding in Gaza, but Mr Haniyeh, the group’s overall leader, is based in Qatar.