Israel, Gaza, and Operation Cast Lead: Use of Force Discourse and Jus Ad Bellum Controversies
The Palestine Yearbook of International Law, Vol. XV, pp. 95-117, 2009
24 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2010
Date Written: June 21, 2009
This article revisits the use of force discourse that was invoked by states, international organisations, and individuals, in response to Israel’s military assault on the Gaza Strip in Operation Cast Lead. In particular, it examines the legal issues raised in a letter published by two dozen international lawyers in The Sunday Times (of London) on January 11, 2009, characterising the assault as an act of aggression. The author argues that the key issue in making this determination would seem to be the legal status of the Gaza Strip. This is because if Gaza is still considered occupied territory, then the situation is one of belligerent occupation and the question of aggression would not normally arise. However, there have been examples of state practice where non-state entities entitled to self-determination have been subjected to acts of aggression in the past. In those cases it was the gravity of the military offensive that was the determining factor. Seen in this light, and taking the United Nation’s 1974 Definition of Aggression as a guiding document, it could be argued that the Gaza Strip was subjected to an act of aggression in Operation Cast Lead.
Keywords: Aggression, self-defence, armed attack, belligerent occupation, self-determination, UN Charter, Israel, the Palestinians, Gaza Strip
JEL Classification: K33, K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation