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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

Israel Under Fire – Introduction

Filed under: International Law
Publication: Israel Under Fire

Israel Under Fire – Introduction
UN Headquarters Hallway (UN Photo/Kim Haughton)

 It is uniquely challenging to address in calm and objective legal terms the various legal implications and consequences of the brutal and cruel massacre of Israeli and foreign nationals carried out on October 7, 2023, by the Hamas and other terror organizations based in the Gaza Strip, and no less uniquely difficult to analyze the consequences and implications of the war between Israel and Hamas following the October 7 massacre.

Such consequences and implications are relevant whether in the context of the actual fighting on the ground or in the broader context of the international repercussions, including the incredible tsunami of mass, public antisemitism flooding the Western world.

The title of this compilation – “Israel Under Fire” – refers, both figuratively as well as literally, to the wide range of legal aspects emanating from the events and phenomena of the October 7 massacre and the ensuing war.

This includes, first and foremost, the total and utter barbarism and inhumanity demonstrated by Hamas and other terrorists on October 7, 2023, and their violation of humanitarian norms and principles, including the massive barrage of missiles fired indiscriminately against Israel’s civil population centers. It includes the legal dilemmas facing Israel in dealing with a terror group embedded within and under the Gaza civilian population, using, as a matter of policy, homes, hospitals, schools, mosques, and international aid facilities as human shields.

The concept of “Israel under Fire” relates in no less a manner to the concerted attack and demonstrated hostility against Israel in the international community, chiefly within the United Nations and among its senior staff, and in the refugee agency UNRWA, the staff and leadership of which has been actively involved in incitement against Israel and even participated in the October 7 massacre.

Finally, the symbolic aspect of the term “Israel under Fire” covers the unprecedented wave of massive international antisemitism and hatred of Israel accompanying the armed conflict, as demonstrated on campuses and the streets.

It is impossible to analyze the various legal aspects surrounding Israel’s unique situation on October 7 without considering the motivating factors behind and beneath the actual events. Such underlying factors include the formally declared intention of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror organizations, in their respective covenants and national charters, to deny the very legitimacy of Israel and to seek its utter annihilation and the genocide of the Jewish people.

The echoing of such motivation and intentions in the mass calls by incited and ignorant demonstrators on the streets and campuses in Western countries, including calls of “from the river to the sea Palestine will be free,” is indicative of such mass negation of Israel’s legitimate right to exist.

A further major motivating factor is the manipulated and false incentive created by fanatic Muslims and enunciated by Hamas of a contrived and non-existent Israeli threat to destroy the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, one of Islam’s holy sites. Even the Arabic title given by the Hamas leadership to the October 7 massacre – “The Al Aqsa Flood” and the constant Muslim incitement using this theme, give rise to a need to clarify the role played by such a false incitement regarding the Al Aqsa Mosque as part of the events of October 7 and the ensuing war.

In addressing the various legal aspects surrounding the October 7 massacre, the legal dilemmas arising from the war, and the motivating factors that gave rise to the massacre and the war, the following papers are included in this compilation:

  1. Robert L. Mayer – The Attempt to Deny the Foundational Legal, Historical, and National Rights of the Jewish People
  2. Dr. Jacques Gauthier – The Right of Worship at Jerusalem’s Holy Sites
  3. Anne Bayefsky – Anatomy of a UN Crime against Humanity
  4. Nicholas Rostow – Israel – “War’s Option of Difficulties” – Military and Political Challenges in Multi-Dimensional Warfare
  5. Alan Baker – The War in Gaza: Can Contemporary International Law Cope with Today’s Terror?
  6. Raphael Ben-Ari – IDF Investigation of Exceptional Operational Issues
  7. Talia Einhorn – The Legality under International Law of the Jewish Settlement in East Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip
  8. Lt. Col. (ret.) Maurice Hirsch – Detention, Prosecution, Punishment, and the October 7 Massacre