Amal Clooney advised ICC prosecutor who seeks warrants in Israel-Hamas war crimes case

British Lebanese human rights lawyer Amal Clooney. (File/AFP)
British Lebanese human rights lawyer Amal Clooney. (File/AFP)
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Updated 21 May 2024
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Amal Clooney advised ICC prosecutor who seeks warrants in Israel-Hamas war crimes case

British Lebanese human rights lawyer Amal Clooney. (File/AFP)
  • British Lebanese human rights lawyer says she agreed to serve on panel of experts reviewing evidence because she believes in rule of law and ‘need to protect civilian lives’

LONDON: British Lebanese human rights lawyer Amal Clooney was a special adviser in the International Criminal Court investigation that resulted in the prosecutor in the case requesting arrest warrants on Monday for Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and three Hamas leaders.

The ICC’s chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, thanked Clooney in his statement announcing his decision, describing her as part of “a panel of experts in international law” who reviewed the evidence.

In a message on her foundation’s website, Clooney said Khan had requested that she assist him “with evaluating evidence of suspected war crimes and crimes against humanity in Israel and Gaza.”

She added: “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.

“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 Defense Minister Yoav Gallant have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, including starvation as a method of warfare, murder, persecution and extermination.”

Clooney previously faced criticism for failing to publicly criticize the war in Gaza. Many people sent messages to her on social media on Monday apologizing for their comments and praising her role in the ICC investigation.

The lawyer said she agreed to serve on the panel because she believes in the rule of law and the “need to protect civilian lives.”

She 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. 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.”

Israeli and Hamas leaders have rejected allegations that they are guilty of war crimes, and representatives of both sides criticized Khan for his decision.


Eid Al-Adha 2024: Pakistani TV channels to air special programming during three-day holiday

Eid Al-Adha 2024: Pakistani TV channels to air special programming during three-day holiday
Updated 16 min 58 sec ago
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Eid Al-Adha 2024: Pakistani TV channels to air special programming during three-day holiday

Eid Al-Adha 2024: Pakistani TV channels to air special programming during three-day holiday
  • Television remains a major source of entertainment despite increase in the number of film productions
  • TV channels will air telefilms on Eid featuring artists like Ahsan Khan, Feroze Khan and Arsalan Naseer

KARACHI: As Muslims around the world prepare to celebrate Eid Al-Adha, marking the culmination of the Hajj pilgrimage to Makkah, Pakistani television channels are planning to air some fun content for viewers’ consumption during the three-day holiday announced by the government beginning next week.
Television remains a major source of entertainment for most Pakistanis, especially during Eid and other national holidays, with drama serials and game shows being far more accessible than film productions. This holds true despite the recent increase in the number and special launches of film productions.
Arab News has compiled a list of at least six new telefilms making their way to the small screen to entertain people celebrating Eid.

Tere Naam Ka Tattoo
Content creator turned actor Arslan Naseer, who is making waves with his character in the ongoing drama ‘Radd,’ and new-age actress Sahar Hashmi will be starring in the Eid special telefilm ‘Tere Naam Ka Tattoo.’
It’s a romantic comedy, according to Naseer, who plays the role of the male protagonist Ahsan.
“He is a hopeless romantic who is in denial of his breakup,” Naseer told Arab News while explaining his character in the production.
Written by Hasan Inam, the telefilm is directed by Muhammad Iftikhar Iffi.
Naseer said it was a story of two individuals going through a rough patch who eventually find comfort in each other after being betrayed by their former love interests.
“Tere Naam Ka Tattoo is a fresh story,” he added. “It’s not our typical Bakra Eid content. It features a fresh onscreen couple and should be fun to watch.”

Pyaar Tou Warh Gaya
The Ahsan Khan and Amar Khan-starrer ‘Pyaar Tou Warh Gaya’ is described as a “very fun, Eid entertainer,” according to Amar.
Amar plays the female lead opposite Khan, who has a double role in the telefilm. He is the husband of the female lead while also disguising as a woman as his second avatar.
Amar plays the role of Khan’s naive wife who wants to know everything. However, she said, she gets puzzled when she learns the truth.
“The audience’s response to the first teaser of the telefilm has been really interesting,” she told Arab News. “Some people are comparing it to ‘dream girl.’“
“Viewers must watch it for fits of laughter this Eid Al-Adha,” she continued, adding the cast included Sidra Niazi, Behroze Sabzwari, and Adnan Jaffer, in addition to herself and Khan.
Written by debutant Shakeel Arsalan, it has been directed by Ali Faizan.

Jodi Ban Gayi
The Feroze Khan and Sehar Khan-starrer telefilm ‘Jodi Ban Gayi’ will also hit the small screen this Eid Al-Adha. Airing on the first day of Eid, the telefilm offers a fresh pair in never-seen-before characters.
“This is the most exciting aspect of the telefilm,” director Syed Ramish Rizvi said in a conversation with Arab News.
“It’s a romantic comedy that highlights there is no right age for marriage as long the mindset of two individuals align,” he added.
The cast includes Saba Faisal and Mehmood Akhtar in key roles.
“The storytelling and cast are the highlight of the project,” Rizvi said. “Feroze Khan hasn’t done a light-hearted character like this before.”

Tamanna Ki Aarzu
Muneeb Butt and Madiha Imam are coming together for an Eid Al-Adha telefilm, titled ‘Tamanna Ki Aarzu.’
“It’s a 40-minute comedy tele-play that revolves around the theme of property,” Imam told Arab News.
The story, according to her, highlights how women feel insecure in financial terms after their marriage.
Imam plays the role of an unconventional woman who is straightforward and vocal against injustices.
“She is more of a tomboy,” she said.
“It’s a comic, light-hearted play that will make viewers reflect on many things,” Imam continued. “It has a very subliminal, quiet message in it. It also promises a good time with friends and family this Eid Al-Adha.”

Wo Saat Din
The telefilm titled ‘Wo Saat Din,’ starring Usama Khan and Alizeh Shah in lead roles, will hit television screens on the third day of Eid.
It has an ensemble cast including Samina Ahmed and Fazila Qazi while it is written by Saima Akram Chaudhry of ‘Suno Chanda’ fame.
Chaudhry described the story as one in which a woman tries to keep relationships intact.
“There is a budding love story amidst the situation that becomes life-changing for the families involved,” Chaudhry told Arab News.
Khan, who plays the male protagonist in the telefilm, shared it was signature Saima Akram Chaudhry’s family-oriented play.
“Still, it has a unique story which will be entertaining to watch for viewers on Eid Al-Adha,” he said.

Love Hai Mushkil
‘Love Hai Mushkil’ is described as a “fun, Eid special telefilm,” according to the official Instagram handle of the channel airing it on Eid.
It features Ali Rehman Khan and Mah-e-Nur Haider in lead roles, alongside Hina Bayat and Javed Sheikh. Written by Misbah Ali Syed, Love Hai Mushkil is directed by Kashif Saleem.
Going by the teaser, it seems to be a conventional romantic comedy in which hate between the guy and the girl turns into lasting love. The two individuals who constantly fight and express dislike toward one another eventually fall in love.


Pilgrims commence the final rites of Hajj as Muslims celebrate Eid Al-Adha

Pilgrims commence the final rites of Hajj as Muslims celebrate Eid Al-Adha
Updated 22 min 40 sec ago
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Pilgrims commence the final rites of Hajj as Muslims celebrate Eid Al-Adha

Pilgrims commence the final rites of Hajj as Muslims celebrate Eid Al-Adha
  • The stoning is among the final rites of the Hajj, which is one of the Five Pillars of Islam
  • All Muslims are required to make the Hajj once in their lives if they are physically and financially able to do so

MINA, Saudi Arabia: Masses of pilgrims on Sunday embarked on a symbolic stoning of the devil in Saudi Arabia. The ritual marks the final days of Hajj pilgrimage and the start of the Eid Al-Adha celebrations for Muslims around the world.
The stoning is among the final rites of the Hajj, which is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. It came a day after more than 1.8 million pilgrims congregated on a sacred hill in Mount Ararat outside the holy city of Makkah, which Muslim pilgrims visit to perform the annual five-day rituals of Hajj.
The pilgrims left Mount Arafat on Saturday evening to spend their night in a nearby site known as Muzdalifa, where they collected pebbles they have used in the symbolic stoning of pillars representing the devil.
The pillars are in another sacred place in Makkah, called Mina, where Muslims believe Ibrahim’s faith was tested when God commanded him to sacrifice his only son Ismail. Ibrahim was prepared to submit to the command, but then God stayed his hand, sparing his son. In the Christian and Jewish version of the story, Abraham is ordered to kill his other son, Isaac.
Pilgrims will spend the next three days in Mina, where they walk long distances on pedestrian-only streets toward a multi-story complex housing large pillars. There, they cast seven pebbles each at three pillars in a ritual meant to symbolize the casting away of evil and sin.
While in Mina, they will visit Makkah to perform “tawaf,” circumambulation, which is circling the Kaaba in the Grand Mosque counterclockwise seven times. They will make another circumambulation, known as Farewell Tawaf, at the end of Hajj and as they prepare to leave the holy city.
The rites coincide with the four-day Eid Al-Adha, which means “Feast of Sacrifice,” when Muslims with the financial means commentate Ibrahim’s test of faith through slaughtering livestock and animals and distributing the meat to the poor.
Once the Hajj is over, men are expected to shave their heads and remove the shroud-like white garments worn during the pilgrimage, and women to snip a lock of hair in a sign of renewal and rebirth.
Most of the pilgrims then leave Makkah for the city of Madinah, about 340 kilometers away, to pray in Prophet Muhammad’s tomb, the Sacred Chamber. The tomb is part of the prophet’s mosque, which is one of the three holiest sites in Islam, along with the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
All Muslims are required to make the Hajj once in their lives if they are physically and financially able to do so. Many wealthy Muslims make the pilgrimage more than once. The rituals largely commemorate the accounts of Prophet Ibrahim and his son Prophet Ismail, Ismail’s mother Hajjar and Prophet Muhammad, according to the Qur’an, Islam’s holy book.
More than 1.83 million Muslims performed Hajj in 2024, Saudi Hajj and Umrah Minister Tawfiq bin Fawzan Al-Rabiah said in a briefing, slightly less than last year’s figures when 1.84 million made the rituals.
Most of the Hajj rituals are held outdoors with little if any shade. It is set for the second week of Dhu Al-Hijjah, the last month in the Islamic lunar calendar, so its time of the year varies. And this year the pilgrimage fell in the burning summer of Saudi Arabia. The heat soared to 47 degrees Celsius (116.6 F) at Mount Arafat on Saturday.
This year’s Hajj came against the backdrop of the devastating Israel-Hamas war, which has pushed the Middle East to the brink of a regional conflict.


Israeli military announces ‘tactical pause’ in attempt to increase flow of aid into hard-hit Gaza

Israeli military announces ‘tactical pause’ in attempt to increase flow of aid into hard-hit Gaza
Updated 4 min 12 sec ago
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Israeli military announces ‘tactical pause’ in attempt to increase flow of aid into hard-hit Gaza

Israeli military announces ‘tactical pause’ in attempt to increase flow of aid into hard-hit Gaza
  • The pause is aimed at allowing aid trucks to reach the Israel-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing

JERUSALEM: The Israeli military on Sunday announced a “tactical pause” in its offensive in the southern Gaza Strip to allow the deliveries of increased quantities of humanitarian aid.
The army said the pause would begin in the Rafah area at 8 a.m. (0500 GMT, 1 a.m. eastern) and remain in effect until 7 p.m. (1600 GMT, noon eastern). It said the pauses would take place every day until further notice.
The pause is aimed at allowing aid trucks to reach the nearby Israel-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing, the main entry point for incoming aid, and travel safely to the Salah a-Din highway, a main north-south road, to deliver supplies to other parts of Gaza, the military said. It said the pause was being coordinated with the UN and international aid agencies.
The crossing has suffered from a bottleneck since Israeli ground troops moved into Rafah in early May.
Israel’s eight-month military offensive against the Hamas militant group has plunged Gaza into a humanitarian crisis, with the UN reporting widespread hunger and hundreds of thousands of people on the brink of famine. The international community has urged Israel to do more to ease the crunch.
From May 6 until June 6, the UN received an average of 68 trucks of aid a day, according to figures from the UN humanitarian office, known as OCHA. That was down from 168 a day in April and far below the 500 trucks a day that aid groups say are needed.
The flow of aid in southern Gaza declined just as the humanitarian need grew. More than 1 million Palestinians, many of whom had already been displaced, fled Rafah after the invasion, crowding into other parts of southern and central Gaza. Most now languish in ramshackle tent camps, using trenches as latrines, with open sewage in the streets.
COGAT, the Israeli military body that oversees aid distribution in Gaza, says there are no restrictions on the entry of trucks. It says more than 8,600 trucks of all kinds, both aid and commercial, entered Gaza from all crossings from May 2 to June 13, an average of 201 a day. But much of that aid has piled up at the crossings and not reached its final destination.
A spokesman for COGAT, Shimon Freedman, said it was the UN’s fault that its cargos stacked up on the Gaza side of Kerem Shalom. He said the agencies have “fundamental logistical problems that they have not fixed,” especially a lack of trucks.
The UN denies such allegations. It says the fighting between Israel and Hamas often makes it too dangerous for UN trucks inside Gaza to travel to Kerem Shalom, which is right next to Israel’s border.
It also says the pace of deliveries has been slowed because the Israeli military must authorize drivers to travel to the site, a system Israel says was designed for the drivers’ safety. Due to a lack of security, aid trucks in some cases have also been looted by crowds as they moved along Gaza’s roads.
The new arrangement aims to reduce the need for coordinating deliveries by providing an 11-hour uninterrupted window each day for trucks to move in and out of the crossing.
It was not immediately clear whether the army would provide security to protect the aid trucks as they move along the highway.


Israel’s ‘economic war’ chokes occupied West Bank

Israel’s ‘economic war’ chokes occupied West Bank
Updated 21 min 4 sec ago
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Israel’s ‘economic war’ chokes occupied West Bank

Israel’s ‘economic war’ chokes occupied West Bank
  • Banking in the Palestinian territories is challenging, with the Palestinian Authority under scrutiny for potential terror financing
  • Palestinian businesses receive nearly $1.7 billion annually for exports, according to the Palestine Monetary Authority

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories: Palestinian teenagers bounced on trampolines and jumped through hoops inside a towering tent on the outskirts of Ramallah, the financial hub of the occupied West Bank.
But the circus students weren’t the only ones bending over backwards in the pavilion: the school’s director faced financial hurdles to buy the tent from Europe and trampolines from Asia.
“We are suffering with international payments,” said Mohamad Rabah, head of the Palestinian Circus School, describing a bureaucratic process that could delay equipment delivery by up to a month.
Banking in the Palestinian territories is challenging, with the Palestinian Authority (PA) under scrutiny for potential terror financing, hindering transactions.
Israel has occupied the West Bank since 1967, with strong economic ties allowing two Israeli lenders to serve as correspondent banks in the Palestinian territory.
But this may change if Israel’s far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich carries out threats to sever a vital banking route next month.
Since Hamas’s October 7 attack triggered the Gaza war, Israel has imposed economic curbs on the PA, withholding tax revenues it collects on its behalf.
Smotrich said this week he had redirected $35 million in PA tax revenues to families of “terrorism” victims, a move condemned by the United States.
After three European countries recognized Palestinian statehood in May, Smotrich told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu he would not extend indemnity to banks that transfer the funds from the end of June.
Israel’s Bank Hapoalim and Israel Discount Bank need protection, expiring on July 1, to avoid sanctions for dealing with Palestinian lenders.
Israel’s central bank and finance ministry declined to comment when contacted by AFP.
The banking channel used to pay for West Bank imports — including essential goods like water, fuel and food — handles $8 billion yearly.
Palestinian businesses receive nearly $1.7 billion annually for exports, according to the Palestine Monetary Authority.
“For us, because our economy is dependent on the Israeli economy, because Israel is controlling the border, the impact will be high,” said PMA governor Feras Milhem.
The Palestinian economy is largely governed by the 1994 Paris Protocol, which granted sole control over the territories’ borders to Israel, including the right to collect import duties and value-added tax for the PA.
Palestinian livelihoods have also been hurt by bans on laborers crossing into Israel and by a sharp downturn in tourism in the territory, including a quiet Christmas season in Bethlehem.
The United States has urged Israel to improve conditions, warning that severing the banking route would have a dire impact on the West Bank economy.
“I believe it would create a humanitarian crisis in due course if Palestinian banks are cut off from Israeli correspondence,” US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said last month.
Western governments fear Israel’s economic policies could destabilize the West Bank.
“The banking system may collapse and therefore the PA may collapse as well,” a European diplomatic source in Jerusalem said on condition of anonymity.
“The PA is in a financial crisis and it could collapse before August.”
Palestinian businessmen say their bottom lines have been hit since October 7.
Imad Rabah, who owns a plastics company, said his net income had fallen 50 percent in one year.
Arak producer Nakhleh Jubran said his liquor business had fallen 30 percent over the same period.
“We have a traditional war in Gaza and we have an economic war in the West Bank,” said Jubran.
Musa Shamieh, who owns a womenswear company said the Israeli policies were designed to push Palestinians to leave the West Bank.
“They want us to leave our land and they know it will be hard for us to stay if we can’t do business,” Shamieh said.
Israel’s harsh economic policies could eventually drive Palestinian policymakers to pursue sweeping changes to the monetary system.
“We need to work on a plan B when it comes to the trade relations,” said Milhem, governor of the PMA, which uses an image of the former Palestinian pound as its logo.
Yousef Daoud, professor at the West Bank’s Birzeit University, said the territory could scrap the shekel as its de facto currency in favor of a digital alternative.
“We can make our e-currency, just collect all the shekels, issue an equivalent amount of Palestinian pounds, one-to-one fixed exchange rate, and have the Palestinians deal with e-currency,” he said.
“Somehow, eventually, we’ll get rid of the shekel.”


Pakistan needs major change after reaching ‘lowest point’ says Imad Wasim

Pakistan needs major change after reaching ‘lowest point’ says Imad Wasim
Updated 47 min 27 sec ago
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Pakistan needs major change after reaching ‘lowest point’ says Imad Wasim

Pakistan needs major change after reaching ‘lowest point’ says Imad Wasim
  • Pakistan, champions in 2009, crashed out of World Cup in group stage after losing to USA, India 
  • Their final game is against Ireland on Sunday with both teams already out of the World Cup 

LAUDERHILL, United States: Pakistan cricket is at its lowest point and needs to make radical changes, all-rounder Imad Wasim said after the team failed to get out of the group stage of the T20 World Cup.

The 2009 champions, beaten finalists two years ago, lost to the USA and India with their sole victory coming against Canada.

Pakistan’s final game is on Sunday against Ireland, which is now a dead rubber with both teams already eliminated.

Asked about the exit, with the USA beating Pakistan to Super Eight qualification, along with India, Wasim said there was no doubt about the level of disappointment.

“This is the lowest point. You can’t go any lower than this. That’s the fact,” he told a press conference.

Asked whether there now needed to be major changes, the 35-year-old left-arm spinner, said it was clear that radical changes were needed.

“It’s not my domain but I think there should be changes and there should be a drastic change so we can move forward,” he said.

Wasim, who came out of a brief retirement for this tournament, said that the change needed to be far-reaching.

“In everything and every aspect. How to take the game on? How to play the game? This is what I believed in and this is why I came back and tried to do things but it didn’t happen,” he added.

After the shock loss to the USA, Pakistan put up a close fight in defeat against India in New York and Wasim said that the context needed to be understood.

“You can also say the wickets are a bit tougher than what you think and any team can beat anyone. You can see Nepal was almost through. So, things can happen but I think the approach, how we play the game, I think we will change that and all of the boys are eager to do that because this defeat hurt us really badly,” he said.

The key change that is needed is in the mental side of the game, added Wasim.

“I’m giving my personal opinion. Don’t make these headlines — it’s all your mindset. What mindset do you want to play the game with? You either play fire with fire, or you play your way.

“So, I personally believe that you should play fire with fire. And even if you lose, you can sit down and say to yourself that on that day we were not good enough,” he said.

“The problem is our team is so good, our players are so good that we are good enough to play any kind of cricket. So you have to get rid of fear of failure mindset.

“In everything — batting, bowling, fielding, you have to get rid of fear of failure mindset. As I said earlier, personnel change doesn’t change anything, just changing the mindset can change a lot of things,” he added.

“We compete with the world’s best teams. Their mindset has changed over time. We used to rule in T20 cricket. I think we have moved back a little now. If you change the mind of the player, you can achieve things beyond your limits. I always believe in this.”

Wasim said he would not make any decision on his future until after Sunday’s game.

“As far as retirement is concerned, there’s a match tomorrow. We’ll play a match and obviously, after that, we’ll think about it and sort out whatever we need to. Because to be honest, a lot of things are going to be sorted out in the Pakistan team. The chairman and the board will sort it out.

“We have given away two games by ourselves. Losing to USA, well, losing is a part of the game, but we shouldn’t have lost to USA. Even against India — we had that game in our hands and we shouldn’t have lost. So, there is no excuse for anything. We are losing matches collectively,” he said.

“After the match against Ireland — we will sit down and talk and then decide. I don’t do anything secretly. I told everyone when I retired last time. If something happens, I will come and tell everyone.”