Self Defence

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Does Israel Have the Right to Defend Itself?

This is a deceptively simple question. It has several possible answers, each of which rests on different (and highly contested) assumptions. In this post I will try to explain what these possible answers are, and what are their implications. I don’t myself know what the ‘correct’ answer here is. It is not my intention to argue for one. I should not be taken as doing so, even implicitly. Rather, my point is simply that, as applied to Israel, Palestine and Gaza, the jus ad bellum is a mess. Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza is not, legally, an open-and-shut, clear-cut situation. We do have such clear situations – it is reasonably clear, in my view, that the US and UK committed aggression when they invaded Iraq in 2003, as it is even clearer that Russia committed aggression against Ukraine. But Gaza is not such a case. There are two further arguments that I want to make. First, that many who think there is a single, clearly correct answer to the question whether…

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The Lessons of 9/11 for October 7

October 7 is being called Israel’s 9/11. The comparison is apt for the lessons that can be learned as to the legality of launching a ground offensive to respond to terrorism. The United States and the United Kingdom invaded Afghanistan in response to 9/11. Israel has announced it will undertake a full-scale…

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The Legality of the Downing of the Turkish Drone by the US

On 4 October 2023, the US downed a Turkish drone in Syria after it came within 500m of a US military base in a region controlled by Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in eastern Euphrates. Multiple Turkish drones carried out airstrikes in the region as part of a response to a terrorist attack…

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Attacks against Europe’s Offshore Infrastructure within and beyond the Territorial Sea under Jus ad Bellum

The EU and NATO Member States appear to be engaged in a shadow war with Russia where pipelines, cables, and windfarms connected with the former are allegedly targeted by the latter. The recent suspected sabotage against a 77-km-long submarine gas pipeline and a telecommunications cable linking Estonia and Finland fuels the common…

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As Far As We Know, There Has Been No Armed Attack Against Poland

Yesterday a missile struck a village in Poland, near the Ukrainian border, prompting immediate fears of escalation and of a more direct entry of NATO states into the Russian/Ukranian armed conflict. As I write this it remains unclear whether the missile was fired by Russian or by Ukranian armed forces. However, US President Biden and other US officials…

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