Why did Amal Alamuddin turn down the UN's offer to investigate war crimes in Gaza?

Published August 12th, 2014 - 11:17 GMT

George Clooney's barrister fiancee has turned down an offer from the United Nations to become one of three experts called in to investigate alleged human rights violations and war crimes in Gaza.

British-Lebanese lawyer Amal Alamuddin, 36, was named as part of an independent team observing alleged crimes by both sides during Israel's military offensive on Monday morning, but within hours she issued a statement saying she had turned the offer down, citing prior work commitments.

‘I am honored to have received the offer, but given existing commitments - including eight ongoing cases - unfortunately could not accept this role,’ said Alamuddin. ‘I wish my colleagues who will serve on the commission courage and strength in their endeavors.'

The barrister said she had only been contacted by the UN about the role on Monday morning and had had to decline because of ‘existing commitments.’

Alamuddin went on to say she was horrified by the situation in the occupied Gaza Strip, particularly the civilian casualties that have been caused. 

‘I strongly believe that there should be an independent investigation and accountability for crimes that have been committed,’ she said. 

Hours after she denied ever accepting the role, a UN press release touting her involvement was still up online.

The ongoing conflict in Gaza has prompted public statements from a number high profile actors including Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem. 

They were among a group who last week penned an open letter in a Spanish national newspaper calling for Europe to condemn Israel's bombing of the Palestinian territory. The letter described actions against Palestinians as ‘genocide’.

The letter demanded a ceasefire by the military and urged Israel to lift the blockade in the Gaza Strip. Following the comments, the pair were accused of being anti-Semitic.

One movie producer who had previously worked with Cruz vowed not to hire her again, according to the Hollywood Reporter. George Clooney hasn't spoken out about the conflict.

William Schabas, a Canadian professor of international law, was also announced on Monday as the head of the panel along with Doudou Diene, a veteran U.N. human rights expert from Senegal.

The team will investigate 'all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law ... in the context of the military operations conducted since 13 June 2014,' the U.N. statement said.

A month of war, marked by Israeli air strikes on Gaza and rockets fired by Hamas militants into Israel, has killed 1,938 Palestinians and 67 Israelis while devastating wide tracts of densely populated Gaza.

The panel is due to report by March 2015 to the U.N. Human Rights Council. Israel has long accused the 47-member state forum of bias against it.

Navi Pillay, the top U.N. human rights official, said on July 31 she believed Israel was deliberately defying international law in its military offensive in Gaza and that world powers should hold it accountable for possible war crimes.

Israel has attacked homes, schools, hospitals, Gaza's only power plant and U.N. premises in apparent violation of the Geneva Conventions, said Pillay, a former U.N. war crimes judge.

Hamas militants in Gaza have violated international humanitarian law by firing rockets indiscriminately into Israel, Pillay said.

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators resumed indirect talks mediated by Egypt on Monday on ending the war, Egypt's state news agency said, after a new 72-hour truce appeared to be holding.

Hollywood star Clooney and Alamuddin have been engaged since April following a whirlwind romance when they met at a charity event in September.

She supposedly refused to give her his number so he wooed her with an email which read: ‘The world’s hottest man should meet the hottest human rights lawyer’.

The ongoing conflict in Gaza is proving to be a hot potato in Hollywood with some stars accused of being anti-Semitic for attacking Israel’s bombing of Gaza.

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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