Abraham Bell

Dr. Avi Bell of the Faculty of Law of Bar-Ilan University is currently a visiting professor at the University of San Diego. He specializes in international law, particularly the laws of war. Dr. Bell served in an IDF reserve paratrooper brigade in combat in the Second Lebanon war.

Publications by Abraham Bell

On War Crimes in Gaza

While the human rights organizations are pointing an accusing finger at Israel due to the operation in Gaza, according to international law it is precisely Hamas that committed war crimes. The widespread accusation regarding disproportional use of force does not meet the test of international law that places the emphasis on intention rather than results. Read More »

Hamas’ War Crimes

On January 7, the Washington Post reported that Hamas “opted for a tactical withdrawal, with its fighters melting away into the strip’s sprawling cities and refugee camps, according to Gaza residents and Israeli military analysts and officers. Now, Hamas appears to be daring the Israeli troops to follow.” This appears to be a deliberate and illegal attempt to use Gaza’s urban population as civilian shields. Read More »

Rivkin and Brown on Libel Tourism

David Rivkin and Bruce Brown have a fascinating op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on libel tourism. Railing against the chilling effects of libel tourism on free speech, Rivkin and Brown review some of the most interesting recent cases, including […] Read More »

Israel and the Egyptian-Gazan Border

CAMERA has put out an excellent summary of the status of border controls along the Egyptian-Palestinian border of Gaza. Read More »

Universal Jurisdiction

The doctrine of universal jurisdiction pushes aside state sovereignty in order to try people for what are allegedly the “most severe human rights crimes” in any court in the world. Thus, universal jurisdiction is hailed by proponents like Human Rights Watch’s Kenneth Roth, as “the emerging system of international justice” that will “break [the] pattern of impunity” for atrocities committed by tyrants. Read More »

What’s a Political Court to Do?

On October 8, the General Assembly voted 77-6, with 74 abstentions to back Serbia in requesting an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on whether “the unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo is in accordance with international law” Read More »

Israel – An “Illegitimate” State?

Libel Tourism: International Forum
Shopping for Defamation Claims

This briefing paper examines the promise and peril of libel tourism – the practice of suing in a court outside the claimant’s home country in order to increase the likelihood of winning a libel case. Libel tourism has reached the headlines recently due to an increase in the number of persons who have discovered the advantages of bringing libel actions in England. In the last decade, Roman Polanski (an American living in France) brought a successful libel action against Vanity Fair (an American magazine), Khalid Bin Mahfouz (a Saudi who also holds Irish citizenship) brought numerous libel actions with some success against defendants from around the world, Boris Berezovsky (a Russian) succeeded in persuading the House of Lords of his right to sue Forbes (an American magazine) and Rinat Akhmetov (a Ukrainian) successfully sued Kyiv Post and Obozrevatel (two Ukrainian internet journals). The practical result of the liberal English approach towards foreign libel claims is to chill speech throughout the world. Everyone who publishes a statement that will appear on the internet, or in a book that can be sold in England, must be aware that an English court will be ready to entertain a libel suit against the writer, subjecting him or her to the pro-plaintiff English legal standards. Read More »

International Law and the Fighting in Gaza

Attacks deliberately aimed at civilians are war crimes. The launching of rockets at civilian targets in Israel by Palestinians in Gaza violates international law. Both the terror squads carrying out the attacks, as well as their commanders, bear criminal responsibility. Under the rules of command responsibility, senior Hamas leaders such as Khaled Mashal, who ordered a continuation of the rocket attacks, are among the parties guilty of war crimes.
Read More »

Is Israel Bound by International Law to Supply Utilities,
Goods, and Services to Gaza?

International law does not require Israel to supply Gaza with fuel or electricity, or, indeed, with any other materials, goods, or services. Dependence on foreign supply does not create a legal duty to continue the supply. Absent specific treaty requirements, countries may cut off oil sales to other countries at any time. Read More »

International Law and Gaza: The Assault on Israel’s Right to Self-Defense

A careful examination of the relevant law demonstrates that Israeli counterstrikes to date conform to the requirements of international law. Moreover, Palestinian commission of war crimes and acts considered under international conventions to be terrorist acts and acts of genocide require Israel and other countries to take steps to punish Palestinian criminals for their acts in the Gaza fighting. Read More »

How Should Israel Respond to War Crimes Accusations from the War in Lebanon?

Discussing how Israel should respond to war crimes accusations diverts the agenda away from Hizballah – a terrorist group that committed war crimes in the recent war that far exceed in gravity and quantity all those Israel is accused of. Hizballah launched thousands of rocket and mortar attacks on northern Israel, deliberately targeting civilians in violation of the laws of war. Read More »

Israel’s Anti-Terror Fence: The World Court Case

The UN General Assembly (GA) resolution asking the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for an advisory opinion is actually a request for an endorsement of an already-stated political opinion of the GA. The ICJ lacks jurisdiction over the case because the GA has dictated the desired result. The court is not authorized to make endorsements of the GA’s political opinions dressed in legal garb. Read More »