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

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

Filed under: Conferences, Hamas the Gaza War and Accountability under International Law - June 18 2009, Israel, Israeli Security
Publication: eBook Library

This volume provides a review of Israel’s unprecedented and careful consideration of questions of international law when forced to go to war to defend its civilian population from attack, with a particular focus on the Gaza war of 2008-2009. It concludes that existing international law permits a nation to act in self-defense, and that Israel gives more thought to upholding the laws of war during its military operations than any other nation in history.

The broad questions discussed include the law of armed conflict, proportionality, asymmetric conflicts, self-defense, accountability, and “lawfare.” More specific topics include the work of the Goldstone Commission, “civilian” casualty figures from the Gaza war, Israel’s naval blockade, and the supply of utilities and goods to Gaza.

For Kindle and Paperback editions:

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About the Authors:

  • Dr. Abraham 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.
  • Dr. Amichai Cohen is an associate dean and senior lecturer of International Law at Ono Academic College in Israel and visiting professor at American University – Washington College of Law.
  • Prof. George P. Fletcher is the Cardozo Professor of Jurisprudence at Columbia University School of Law.
  • Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi is the research director for the Orient Research Group and a research fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Halevi previously served as a senior adviser for political planning in Israel’s Foreign Ministry.
  • Sigall Horovitz, Adv., worked as legal adviser to the President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and served with the Office of the Prosecutor at the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
  • Col. Richard Kemp is former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan.
  • Prof. Ruth Lapidoth, a Fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is a Professor Emeritus of International Law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a recipient of the Israel Prize (2006). Prof. Lapidoth served in the Israeli delegation to the UN in 1976, and in 1979 was appointed Legal Advisor to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She is the author of nine books and more than a hundred articles on international law, human rights, the Arab-Israeli conflict and Jerusalem.
  • Maj. Gil Limon, former Legal Advisor for the Israeli Mission to the United Nations, heads the Legal and Security Affairs Section in the International Law Department of the IDF Military Advocate General’s Office.
  • Dr. Roy S. Schondorf heads a department within the Israel Ministry of Justice charged with handling all international legal proceedings against Israel, Israeli soldiers or officials.
  • Col. (ret.) Pnina Sharvit-Baruch is a former Head of the International Law Department of the IDF Military Advocate General’s Office.
  • Prof. Gerald Steinberg of the Political Studies Department at Bar-Ilan University is Executive Director of NGO Monitor.


International Law’s Limitations on Contending with Terror
Dr. Roy S. Schondorf

Redefining the Law of Armed Conflict? Legal Manipulations Regarding Israel’s Struggle Against Terrorism
Maj. Gil Limon

Accountability of Hamas under International Humanitarian Law
Sigall Horovitz

International Law and Military Operations in Practice
Col. Richard Kemp CBE

Asymmetric Conflicts and the Rules of War
Col. (ret.) Pnina Sharvit-Baruch

Self-Defense and the Dignity of States
Prof. George P. Fletcher

Prof. Gerald Steinberg

Blocking the Truth of the Gaza War: How the Goldstone Commission Understated the Hamas Threat to Palestinian Civilians
Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi

Palestinian “Policemen” Killed in Gaza Operation Were Trained Terrorists
Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi

The Legal Basis of Israel’s Naval Blockade of Gaza
Prof. Ruth Lapidoth

Is Israel Bound by International Law to Supply Utilities, Goods, and Services to Gaza?
Dr. Abraham Bell

Proportionality in Modern Asymmetrical Wars
Dr. Amichai Cohen