Israel-Hamas Conflict: Int'l Law, Origins, & Modern Impact.

  Oct 19, 2023

Israel-Hamas Conflict:Introduction and International Law

What led to the recent escalation in the Israel-Hamas conflict?

The conflict escalated due to a series of events, including rocket attacks by Hamas militants and Israeli airstrikes in response, resulting in a cycle of violence.

How many casualties have been reported so far in this conflict?

Authorities in Gaza have reported over 2,670 casualties, with approximately a quarter of them being children. Additionally, nearly 10,000 people have been wounded.

What is the role of the U.S. in this conflict?

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is touring West Asian nations to prevent further escalation and secure the release of hostages taken by Hamas.

Are there concerns about the conflict spilling over into neighboring regions?

Yes, there are concerns about spillover. Clashes along the Israel-Lebanon border and potential involvement of groups like Hezbollah and Iran have raised these concerns.

How is the humanitarian situation in Gaza?

The situation is dire, with water shortages, overwhelmed hospitals, and UN shelters running out of resources. The World Health Organization has expressed concern about the evacuation of Gaza hospitals.

Is there international involvement in seeking a resolution?

Yes, international leaders have called for the protection of Gaza civilians, and there are efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

The Context:

On October 7, Hamas, based in Palestine, initiated an attack on Israel, resulting in civilian casualties and hostages. This has sparked a significant conflict in West Asia.

Laws of War Explained:

Jus ad bellum: Regulated by the UN Charter, it dictates when a country can use force in international relations.

Jus in bello: Defines how a war should be conducted, regardless of its justification.

International Humanitarian Law (IHL): Dictates the rules during an armed conflict. Its main goal is to protect civilians and lessen war-inflicted sufferings. This law is derived from the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the Additional Protocols of 1977.

Application to the Current Conflict:

The military strife between Israel and Hamas is deemed an armed conflict, thus making IHL applicable.

Civilians & Conflict:

IHL emphasizes differentiating between combatants and civilians. Indiscriminate attacks targeting civilians are illegal. Hence, Hamas's civilian attacks are unlawful. Even though Hamas attacked Israel, Israel's retaliation, causing disproportionate civilian harm in Gaza, is also deemed illegal. Such actions are considered war crimes.

Hostage Situations:

Hamas's act of taking Israelis as hostages is illegal. This is recognized as a war crime by the Rome Statute's Article 8.

Gaza Strip Blockade:

Israel's blockade in the Gaza Strip is seen as collective punishment, which is illegal. It's against IHL to punish a group due to the actions of a few members of that group. Israel's warnings for civilians to evacuate were ineffective due to the existing air and sea blockade.


Both parties should adhere to their IHL obligations, and investigations into potential war crimes should be initiated.

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