The case of Ahmed al-Jabari

19 November 2012

Dr Alison Pert examines the legal issues surrounding the assaination of Hamas leader Ahmed al-Jabari.

In an opinion piece for ABC's The Drum, Dr Pert writes, "There are two areas of international law most relevant here: the right to use force (the jus ad bellum), and the way in which force is used in a conflict (jus in bello, or international humanitarian law).

"As to the first, Israel argues that it has the right in international law to defend itself against terrorism: since 2001 some 13,000 rockets have landed in Israel, killing over a thousand Israelis and wounding thousands more, and a million more citizens live under the constant threat of rocket attack.

"It says that international law now - particularly following the international response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks - recognises the right of a state to defend itself against terrorist attacks in the same way as it allows states to respond forcefully to the more traditional forms of armed attack from other states.

"The problem with this argument is that the International Court of Justice, when considering the legality of the security barrier that Israel was (and is) building around the occupied territories, disagreed.

"The Court clearly stated, albeit controversially, that the right of self-defence in international law is only open to a state defending itself against an attack from another state.

"It pointed out that the occupied territories, of which Gaza is a part, are exactly that - territory occupied by Israel and not another state.

"Consequently Israel cannot use self-defence against attacks from the Gaza strip as a legal argument to justify its actions.

"Israel could perhaps rely on 'necessity', which in international law allows a state to take action 'to guard an essential interest against a grave and imminent peril'".

View the entire article - Self-defence or illegal killing? The case of Ahmed al-Jabari - ABC's The Drum

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