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British Human Rights Lawyer Amal Clooney Advised ICC Prosecutor on Arrest Warrants for Netanyahu, Hamas Leaders

Amal Clooney, special adviser to ICC prosecutor of the situation in Sudan, speaks at event during 78th United Nations General Assembly in New York City, US, Sept. 21, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

British human rights attorney Amal Clooney, who is also the wife of actor George Clooney, said on Monday that she was among a group of legal experts that advised the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor to seek arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his defense chief, and three Hamas terrorist leaders for alleged war crimes.

Amal said in a statement published on the website for the Clooney Foundation for Justice that she supports the ICC in the “historic step” it has taken “to bring justice to victims of atrocities in Israel and Palestine.” If the arrest warrants are issued by the court’s judges, Netanyahu would be the first senior leader of a close US ally to be charged by the ICC.

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

ICC prosecutor Karim Khan asked Amal more than four months ago to join a panel of international legal experts given the task of reviewing evidence and legal analysis of suspected war crimes and crimes against humanity related to the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel and the ensuing war in Gaza.

Amal is an adjunct professor at Columbia Law School and co-founded the Clooney Foundation for Justice, which gives free legal support to victims of human rights abuses. As a lawyer, she specializes in international law and human rights. She previously represented Yazidi victims of genocide “in the only three genocide cases against ISIS members in the world” and also represented victims of the genocide in Darfur, Sudan.

The eight-person legal panel organized by the ICC published a detailed legal report of its findings on Monday. They said they found “reasonable grounds to believe” that all five men named in the arrest warrants — Netanyahu, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Al-Masri, and Ismail Haniyeh — have committed war crimes or crimes against humanity in Israel or the Gaza Strip.

Two panel members who advised the ICC were appointed as expert “special advisers” by Khan, and two other panel members were former judges at criminal tribunals in The Hague, Amal explained. The panel unanimously concluded that there are “reasonable grounds to believe” that Netanyahu and Gallant “have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity including starvation as a method of warfare, murder, persecution and extermination,” and that Sinwar, Deif, and Haniyeh have “committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, including hostage-taking, murder, and crimes of sexual violence.” A panel of ICC judges will now consider Khan’s application for the arrest warrants.

The legal experts who advised the ICC prosecutor also published an op-ed on Monday further supporting their findings. Amal said she hopes witnesses will cooperate with the ICC amid its investigation and “that justice will prevail in a region that has already suffered too much.”

Netanyahu and US President Joe Biden both condemned the arrest warrants. The Israeli prime minster called them a “travesty of justice” and an “outrageous decision” that “creates a twisted and false moral equivalence between the leaders of Israel and the henchmen of Hamas.”

Biden addressed the call for arrest warrants during his speech on Monday at the White House in celebration of Jewish American Heritage Month.

“Let me be clear: We reject the ICC’s application for arrest warrants against Israeli leaders,” Biden said. “There is no equivalence between Israel and Hamas, and it’s clear that Israel wants to do all it can to ensure civilian protection.”

He added, “Contrary to allegations against Israel made by the International Court, what’s happening is not genocide. We reject that. We will always stand with Israel and threats against its security.”

While Israel and the US are not members of the ICC, the court claims it has jurisdiction over Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank since Palestinian leaders agreed in 2015 to be bound by the court’s founding principles, according to CNN.

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Will Hostage-Taking Journalist Abdallah Aljamal Be Added to CPJ ‘Casualty’ List?

The Al Jazeera Media Network logo is seen on its headquarters building in Doha, Qatar, June 8, 2017. Photo: REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon

One day after Israeli security forces rescued four Israeli hostages from their Gazan captivity, both the IDF and the Shin Bet (Israel’s internal security agency) confirmed that three of the hostages had been held captive in the family home of Abdallah Aljamal.

Aljamal, who was killed during the raid that freed the hostages, had previously served as a spokesman for the Hamas-run Gaza Labor Ministry and, as a journalist, had contributed to Al Jazeera, and served as a correspondent for The Palestine Chronicle.

His last article was published by the Chronicle one day before the Israeli rescue operation.

Abdullah Al-Jamal was not a “freelance contributor” for the Palestine Chronicle. As the outlet itself has repeatedly stated, he was in fact its “correspondent in Gaza.”

They clearly changed the bio to try and avoid legal repercussions

— Eitan Fischberger (@EFischberger) June 10, 2024

With Abdallah Aljamal’s death as part of the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, it begs the question whether he will be added to the running list of “journalist casualties in the Israel-Gaza war” compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Since the start of the war, the CPJ’s list of journalist casualties has been used by a variety of news outlets, activists, pundits, and politicians to highlight the seemingly disproportionate number of Gaza-based journalists killed during Israel’s counter-terrorism campaign, and to question whether Israel is purposefully targeting reporters and other media workers.

However, as noted earlier by HonestReporting, a significant number of the journalists who appear on the CPJ’s list were in some way affiliated with Hamas and other anti-Israel terror organizations.

As of this writing (June 10, 2024), close to 50% of the 103 Palestinian journalists listed by the CPJ either worked for news outlets affiliated with terror organizations, or were active members in these organizations themselves.

While he was working as a so-called “journalist,” Abdallah Aljamal also held hostages captive for Hamas.

Shockingly, his death qualifies him for the Committee to Protect Journalists’ (@pressfreedom) list of media workers killed in the conflict.

— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) June 9, 2024

If Abdallah Aljamal is added to the CPJ’s list, this will only highlight the problematic nature of the list by including terrorists and kidnappers among the ranks of killed Palestinian media workers, and will serve to further debunk the libel that Israel is targeting journalists in order to stifle their reporting capabilities.

If Aljamal is not included on the CPJ’s list of killed Gaza-based journalists, it will ultimately need to be asked what separates him from the likes of Hamza Al Dahdouh, Mustafa Thuraya, and Mohammad Jarghoun — all three of whom are accused of being active members of terrorist organizations and who appear on the list.

In either case, the mere possibility that Abdallah Aljamal, a Hamas member who helped hold three Israeli civilians hostage, will be added to the CPJ’s list of killed journalists is a cold reminder of the interaction between terrorism and civilian life in Gaza, the influence that Hamas has over the media in Gaza, and the untrustworthiness of outlets that turn a blind eye to these salient factors.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

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Missile Barrage Hits Northern Israel, Emergency Services Report

Firefighters respond to a fire near a rocket attack from Lebanon, amid ongoing cross-border hostilities between Hezbollah and Israeli forces, near Kiryat Shmona, northern Israel, June 14, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Israeli emergency services reported dealing with a string of fires in northern Israel on Friday after dozens of missiles were fired from southern Lebanon into the area around the border town of Kiryat Shemona.

The military said that warning sirens had sounded in northern Israel and emergency services said teams were searching the area, where they reported there was property damage but no casualties.

Television footage on Friday showed damaged buildings and cars as well as brush fires in several locations caused by strikes or falling debris amid heatwave conditions.

The Israeli military has exchanged regular fire with Hezbollah forces across the border in southern Lebanon ever since the start of the war in Gaza in October.

Neither side has appeared to wish a wider conflict, but there has been growing worry that the steady intensification of strikes could push the situation out of control with the risk of a wider conflict in a region that has already seen direct exchanges between Israel and Iran.

The latest salvo came after an Israeli strike killed a senior commander from the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorist group in southern Lebanon on Tuesday, drawing the heaviest bombardment of northern Israel since the start of the war in October last year.

Tens of thousands of residents have been evacuated from their homes on both sides of the border, creating growing pressure to resolve the stand-off, but diplomatic efforts have so far proved fruitless.

On Friday, the Israeli military said fighter jets and anti-aircraft systems had intercepted 11 of the 16 drones launched by Hezbollah against Israel in the past 72 hours.

“The Israeli Air Force is continuing to operate at all times to thwart terrorist activities and protect Israel‘s skies from any threat,” it said in a statement.

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G7 Warns Iran Over Continuing Nuclear Program Escalation

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Italian President Sergio Mattarella, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and European Council President Charles Michel pose for a family photo as they arrive to attend a dinner at Swabian Castle in Brindisi, Italy, June 13, 2024. Photo: Italian Presidency/Handout via REUTERS

The Group of Seven leaders warned Iran on Friday against advancing its nuclear enrichment program and said they would be ready to enforce new measures if Tehran were to transfer ballistic missiles to Russia, according to a draft communique.

“We urge Tehran to cease and reverse nuclear escalations, and stop the continuing uranium enrichment activities that have no credible civilian justifications,” the statement seen by Reuters said.

Iran has rapidly installed extra uranium-enriching centrifuges at its Fordow site and begun setting up others, a UN nuclear watchdog report said on Thursday.

Iran is now enriching uranium to up to 60 percent purity, close to the 90 percent of weapons grade, and has enough material enriched to that level, if enriched further, for three nuclear weapons, according to an IAEA yardstick.

Iran must engage in serious dialogue and provide convincing assurances that its nuclear program is exclusively peaceful, in full cooperation and compliance with the IAEA’s monitoring and verification mechanism, including the Board of Governors’ resolution of 5 June,” the G7 said.

Iran says its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes.

The leaders also warned Iran about concluding a deal to send ballistic missiles to Russia that would help it in its war against Ukraine, saying they were prepared to respond with significant measures if it were to happen.

“We call on Iran to stop assisting Russia’s war in Ukraine and not to transfer ballistic missiles and related technology, as this would represent a substantive material escalation and a direct threat to European security,” they said.

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