International Humanitarian Law

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Who is a Civilian? A Follow up on the Status of Hamas Police Officers

At the end of 2008, I put up a post in which I suggested that a key issue in assessing the lawfulness of Israeli airstrikes in Gaza was determning the status of Hama police officers. Before attempting to make the proportionality calculation International Humanitarian Law (IHL) requires, one has to first answer the question who is a civilian and who is a legitimate target. As has been pointed out on this site, one needs to be clear about the relevant facts before engaging in the required legal analysis. Darryl Li, a student of mine at Yale Law School, sent me an email, in response to my earlier post, in which he attempts to set out what he considers to be the relevant facts regarding the structure of the Gaza police and the status of the police officers. Darryl has worked in Gaza for Human Rights Watch, B'tselem (the Israeli Human Rights group), and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. With his permission, I set out some of his email to me. Gaza police are distinct, operationally and otherwise,…

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A Follow-Up on Israel and Gaza

I just wanted to add a few thoughts after Dapo’s excellent post on the Gaza conflict, of which there seems to be no end in sight. First, a word of warning. As Dapo pointed out, talking about these matters without knowing all the facts is truly dangerous. Indeed, it only tends to expose the speaker’s political and ideological…

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Israeli raids in Gaza: Proportionality and the Status of Hamas Policemen

The latest Israeli raids in Gaza are said to have killed over 300 people (injuring over 1000 others) with most of the dead being Haman policemen and security officials. Israel has launched the raids in response to the repeated rocket fire into Israel from Gaza. Given the very high Palestinian casualties resulting from Israel's raids and (as far as…

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