Israel and Gaza: what if the law of war had a say?

Two major questions currently arise for the general public and for legal experts concerning the ongoing conflict in Israel and Gaza: what does international law say about the bombing of civilians and about humanitarian blockades? Few court cases have directly dealt with these issues before international tribunals, and the guest lawyers on this latest podcast from our partners at Asymmetrical Haircuts offer contrasting answers.

Israel & Gaza international law - Photo: a palestinian refugee camp in Gaza destroyed by an israeli air strike.
Palestinians looking at what remains of the Jabalia refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, on November 1, 2023, in the aftermath of an Israeli strike. Dozens of civilians were killed in a series of strikes that were targeting, according to Israel, high level military commanders of the Hamas. © AFP
1 min 17Approximate reading time

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International Humanitarian Law is a set of rules which seek, for humanitarian reasons, to limit the effects of armed conflict, especially for those who are innocent bystanders of war.

Today we look at how these laws are being considered and applied during the current conflict between Israel and Hamas and the role of military lawyers on the ground.

A major part of International Humanitarian Law is contained in the Geneva Conventions of 1949. Nearly every State in the world has agreed to be bound by them. It applies not only to states, including Israel, but also non-state armed groups that are involved in conflict, including Hamas, even though they cannot formally ratify the treaties.

As you will hear in today’s episode, there can be widely contrasting views on the application of these laws, depending on how you analyse the fundamental basics on the ground, such as the occupation and each side’s military aims.

We speak to Adil Haque, Professor of Law at Rutgers University and is the author of the book Law and Morality at War.  And to Ori Pomson, PHD candidate at Cambridge University, who has served with the IDF as an advisor on cyber affairs.

We also interviewed Margaret Satterthwaite, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers.

Asymmetrical Haircuts podcastASYMMETRICAL HAIRCUTS

This podcast has been published as part of a partnership between and Asymmetrical Haircuts, a podcast on international justice produced from The Hague by journalists Janet Anderson and Stephanie van den Berg, who retain full control and independence over the contents of the podcast.

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