Amal Clooney advised ICC prosecutor who seeks arrest of Israel and Hamas leaders


Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney served as a special adviser in the international criminal court prosecutor’s investigation that led him to seek arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders, it has emerged.

The court’s chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, thanked Clooney in his statement announcing the move, describing her as part of “a panel of experts in international law” whom he had turned to for advice and to review the evidence in the case. Many of the named experts are British.

“The panel is composed of experts of immense standing in international humanitarian law and international criminal law,” Khan wrote.

In a statement put out by her Clooney Foundation for Justice, the lawyer elaborated on how she came to be involved in the ICC case, which has triggered arrest warrant requests for the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his defence minister, Yoav Gallant, as well as Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Ismail Haniyeh and Mohammad Deif for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“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. I agreed and joined a panel of international legal experts to undertake this task. Together we have engaged in an extensive process of evidence review and legal analysis including at the international criminal court in The Hague,” she said.

“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. We unanimously conclude that there are reasonable grounds to believe that Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif and Ismail Haniyeh have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, including hostage-taking, murder and crimes of sexual violence. We unanimously conclude that there are reasonable grounds to believe that Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Israeli defence minister, Yoav Gallant, have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity including starvation as a method of warfare, murder, persecution and extermination.”

Clooney, who has faced criticism on social media for not speaking publicly about the war in Gaza, also elaborated on why she accepted the court’s invitation to advise on the case.

“I served on this panel because I believe in the rule of law and the need to protect 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.

“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.”

The lawyer, who is married to actor George Clooney, is a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers in London and has worked on a string of high-profile cases relating to international law.

In an op-ed for the Financial Times, she and other members of the advisory panel hailed Khan’s decision to issue the arrest warrants as “a milestone in the history of international criminal law”.

They added: “The warrant applications announced today are just the first step. We hope that the prosecutor will continue to conduct focused investigations including in relation to the extensive harm suffered by civilians as a result of the bombing campaign in Gaza and evidence of sexual violence committed against Israelis on 7 October.”