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Everything You Need to Know about International Law and the Gaza War

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Everything You Need to Know about International Law and the Gaza War

At last: Your comprehensive guide to the laws of armed conflict as they apply to Operation Protective Edge.

by David Daoud, thetower.org, Sept. 2014

(David Daoud is a lawyer and analyst based in Washington DC)

War crimes. Disproportionate response. Collective punishment. Targeting civilians. Throughout Operation Protective Edge, these terms have been fired off at Israel with the same intensity and frequency as Hamas’ rockets. Arab government spokesmen constantly refer to Israel’s actions as “aggression.” In extreme cases, Israel is accused of “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing.”
When politicians, pundits, or the public misuse these terms, one can only think of a quote from The Princess Bride: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” But when a respected jurist like Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, calls Israel’s military campaign “disproportionate,” claims the IDF’s “disregard for international humanitarian law and for the right to life was shockingly evident” in many of its attacks, and says that Israel is insufficiently protecting Gaza’s civilians “in a manner that could amount to war crimes,” the accusations cannot be so easily dismissed. At the same time that Israel is exercising its right to self-defense against terrorists who violate and shamelessly exploit international law, human rights lawyers and UN officials aim to manipulate the laws of war to reduce its ability to lawfully use military force.

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