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Amal Clooney critics humbled as role in Israel-Hamas ICC arrest warrant bid revealed

For months, social media users had accused the British barrister of Lebanese and Palestinian descent of remaining 'silent' about Israel's war on Gaza
Human rights lawyer and philanthropist Amal Clooney (AFP)
Human rights lawyer and philanthropist Amal Clooney (AFP)

Hundreds of social media users have taken to the internet to apologise to prominent human rights lawyer Amal Clooney after learning that she is advising the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor seeking arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders.

For months, Clooney, a British barrister of Lebanese and Palestinian descent, drew widespread criticism from commentators on social media who accused her of silence over Israel’s ongoing war on Gaza.

That changed on Monday after ICC prosecutor Karim Khan said he had filed an application for arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Ismail Haniyeh and Mohammed Deif.

It soon emerged that Amal Clooney had played a role in the case.

Clooney co-authored a column with five other international lawyers in the Financial Times, which revealed that Khan “asked us to advise whether there was sufficient evidence to lay charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity".

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The authors expressed their support for the prosecutor’s decision to seek the arrest warrants.

In a statement published on the Clooney Foundation for Justice (CFJ) website the same day, Amal Clooney said she served on the panel “because I believe in the rule of law and the need to protect civilian lives".

“As a human rights lawyer, I will never accept that one child’s life has less value than another’s,” she added.

The CFJ was co-founded by Amal and her husband, actor George Clooney, in 2016.

'She was diligently doing her job'

Apologies have since been pouring in on social media. “I’m pretty sure much of Twitter owes poor Amal Clooney a massive apology lol,” British-American journalist and editor Mehdi Hasan posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Travel writer Monisha Rajesh weighed in as well. “I fully take back criticism of Amal Clooney for not speaking publicly about Gaza,” she said.

“She couldn’t as she was involved with the proceedings.”

So did prominent author and mathematical statistician Nassim Nicholas Taleb, who said he deleted a post slamming the lawyer.

Others used the news to reflect on the value of social media and celebrity culture. 

“A timely reminder that performative activity on social media is not 'action.' Amal Clooney has been dragged continuously for the past few months for supposedly being silent on Gaza,” posted barrister Abimbola Johnson.

“She was diligently doing her actual job and making a tangible difference in the real world.”

On TikTok, users posted videos urging those who criticised Clooney to apologise to her.

Some pro-Israeli accounts accused her of bias against Israel and the Hamas-led attacks of 7 October.

"It is nothing short of scandalous that Clooney would dare to exploit her influential platform to propagate a disinformation campaign, shamelessly twisting the narrative of causality and callously turning a blind eye to the unimaginable barbarity suffered by Israel," said one user.

Other accounts countered that arrest warrants were also issued for Hamas leaders.

Other pro-Palestinian social media users continued to criticise the lawyer, arguing that the ICC case falsely equates Hamas's attacks and Israel's war.

Meanwhile, George Clooney is set to appear as a headliner, alongside former US President Barack Obama and actor Julia Roberts, at a campaign fundraising event for US President Joe Biden in mid-June.

On Monday, Biden condemned the request by the ICC’s prosecutor for an arrest warrant for Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “outrageous”, claiming there is no equivalence between Israel and Hamas.

So far, Clooney’s planned appearance at Biden’s fundraiser has not been widely discussed on social media.

Karim Khan said on Monday that his office continues to investigate suspected crimes in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank, and that more arrest warrants could be issued in the future "if and when we consider that the threshold of a realistic prospect of conviction has been met".

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