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Palestinian Right of Self-Defense

by Stephen Lendman Monday, Aug. 22, 2011 at 10:02 PM


Palestinian Right of Self-Defense - by Stephen Lendman

Repeatedly, Israel preemptively bombs, shells, and inflicts other forms of lawless violence on Gazans, bogusly claiming self-defense.

When they respond, Israel calls it terrorism, claiming justification for greater attacks in "self-defense," what international law prohibits.

In fact, UN Charter Article 2(4) says:

"All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations."

Only two exceptions apply. Under Chapter VII, the Security Council may authorize force to restore peace. Individual states must abide by Chapter VII, Article 51 stating:

"Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defense shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security."

In addition, individual states may use defensive force against armed attacks until the Security Council acts. No other exceptions apply, including armed reprisals. Calling them unlawful, the General Assembly said all states must refrain from using them.

The right of self-defense is limited solely to deterring armed attacks, preventing future ones after initial assaults, or reversing the consequences of enemy aggression, such as ending an illegal occupation.

Even then, however, force must conform to the principles of necessity, distinction, and proportionality.

Necessity permits only attacking military targets.

Distinction pertains to distinguishing between civilian and military ones.

Proportionality prohibits disproportionate force likely to damage nonmilitary sites and/or harm civilian lives.

Moreover, a fourth consideration requires preventing unnecessary suffering, especially affecting noncombatant civilians.

If these objective aren't possible, attacks are prohibited.

Moreover, to a limited degree, anticipatory self-defense is permitted when compelling evidence shows likely imminent threats or further attacks after initial ones.

However, attackers bear burden of proof responsibility, most often failing the test as America always did post-WW II. Israel also, without exception, since its preemptive 1947-48 "war of independence."

In fact, it was naked aggression against another country, stealing 78% of it from its citizens, the UN's 1947 Partition Plan notwithstanding, granting 56% of historic Palestine to Jews, as well as designating Jerusalem an international city under a UN Trusteeship Council.

The UN Charter also explains under what conditions intervention, violence and coercion are justified. None exist in Palestine now or ever. Claiming an "inherent right" is also bogus under international law.

In addition, Article 2(3) and Article 33(1) require peaceful settlements of international disputes, not preemptive attacks. Article 2(4), in fact, prohibits force or its threatened use, including violent interventions of any kind.

Further, Articles 2(3), 2(4), and 33 absolutely prohibit instigating any unilateral or other external threat or use of force not specifically allowed under Article 51 or otherwise authorized by the Security Council. Doing so is naked aggression.

America and Israel are serial offenders. In response, Iraqis, Afghans, Pakistanis, Libyans, Somalis, Yemenis, and Palestinians may legally respond defensively to preemptive armed aggression.

When done, however, it's called terrorism. Aggressors make their own rules. Targeted states are doubly victimized, suffering armed attack effects, then vilified for defending themselves. It amounts to a shocking damned if you do or don't fate.

Lawless Israeli Aggression

Since August 18, Israel lawlessly bombed and shelled Gaza preemptively, falsely blaming Palestinians for multiple Israeli attacks. In fact, they bear classic false flag characteristics, notably because compelling reasons existed to launch them.

Ongoing for four days, mounting casualties include 19 Palestinians dead and 50 or more injured, mostly civilians in harms way or willfully targeted to inflict pain and suffering.

Besides violating UN Charter Article 51, Israel also defiled Fourth Geneva's Article 33 stating:

"No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited....Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited."

No matter. Israel willfully violates this and other international law provisions, committing preemptive armed aggression against Palestinian civilians, including using illegal weapons.

On August 19, The Palestine Monitor headlined, "Attacks on Gaza continue: 'I've never seen shrapnel wounds like this before," saying:

On Friday night alone, over a dozen air attacks struck multiple Gaza sites, including a civilian car, killing a family of three - a doctor, his five-year old son and others.

Media coordinator for Gaza's medical service, Adham Abu Salmiya, said Israel is using new kinds of weapons. Doctors reported unusual injuries, resulting in increased amputations.

Maha Elbanna, a Gaza City based Palestinian/American journalist noted images of wounded victims looking especially gruesome, saying:

"There is a picture of a teenage girl with shrapnel cuts in her face that are very deep, like I've never seen before. I have seen shrapnel wounds before and these are very strange."

In fact, weapons used may be high explosive Dense Inert Metal Explosive (DIME) ones made out of a tungsten alloy. Used during Cast Lead, they have enormous explosive power, enough to cut people struck to pieces.

In 2006, they were first used in Lebanon and Gaza. They not only kill and mutilate, their toxins cause a long-term cancer threat.

Flechette munitions possibly also were used - 4cm-long darts used as anti-personnel weapons. They penetrate to the bone, causing multiple horrific injuries. Up to 8,000 can be packed into one artillery shell. After exploding, they travel at high speed in multiple directions up to around 300 meters.

DIME and flechette munitions are terror weapons, violating the letter and spirit of international law.

Albanna added that "(t)here is so much damage across Gaza - in the north, south and in Gaza City....So far, there is no evidence that anyone in Gaza is responsible for what happened."

Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, Palestinian National Initiative Secretary-General said:

"This is a campaign that is turning into a massacre and civilian areas are targeted."

Among other nonmilitary targets, Israelis struck a concrete factory, gravely injuring two civilians. Barghouthi and Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS) doctors called on the international community to demand an immediate cease fire.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas requested a special Security Council session to stop Israel's naked aggression.

In response, Gazans launched Qassam and Grad rockets as well as mortars, hardly an adequate defense against F-16s, Apache helicopter gunships, tanks and other high-tech weapons, ones Israel uses lawlessly against civilians.

On August 20, Haaretz said a Be'er Sheva home was struck Saturday night, causing one death and four injuries.

Another rocket slightly wounded two children. In total since Thursday evening, dozens of Qassam and Grad rockets, as well as numerous mortar rounds were fired at southern Israel, wounding about 16 Israelis. Areas in and around Be'er Sheva, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Eshkol and Sha'ar Hanegev were struck. Casualties and damage caused hardly compared to what Israel inflicted on Gaza, taking an enormous toll as always.

More was inflicted Sunday when Israel struck Beit Lahia, injuring seven Palestinians, besides causing extensive damage from four days of attacks, more perhaps to come.

On August 21, Haaretz said eight senior Israeli cabinet ministers met Saturday night to discuss escalated attacks on Gaza. Cast Lead II perhaps?

Also on August 21, opposition Kadima MKs demanded Israel "launch a (large-scale) military campaign" against Gaza.

MK Shaul Mofaz (former Defense Minister and IDF Chief of General Staff) said steps must be taken to "topple (Hamas') infrastructures and create a system of ties with Egypt in order to prevent terrorism coming from its border."

In other words, when in doubt, attack. Perhaps Cast Lead II indeed. Considering Israel's horrific crimes of war and humanity last time, imagine what now may be planned.

No matter. World leaders remain silent. As usual, an August 18 White House Press statement blamed Palestinian victims the way Obama wrongfully condemned Gaddafi to justify lawless US/NATO aggression.

On August 21, Haaretz writer Yossi Sarid headlined, "Israel is isolating itself from all its Mideast allies," saying:

Israel lashed out indiscriminately, blaming everyone but itself. "Hamas is to blame because it is reponsible for everything (in) Gaza." So is Islamic Jihad. "(I)t's the (PA's) fault because it agreed (to) unite with Hamas (for) a joint government. Al Qaeda is the guilty party because" it's everywhere, "and Egypt, too, bears responsibility" because they haven't acted against "terror."

Israel's capacity for making enemies may ultimately be its undoing, leaving it isolated and reviled. For its many victims, it can't happen a moment too soon.

A Final Comment

Some good news and bad. First the bad. On August 20, Israeli forces invaded Hebron, breaking into dozens of homes, searching and damaging them, as well as arresting about 120 residents, mostly Hamas political leaders and supporters.

Now the good. On August 21, Haaretz writer Hila Raz headlined, "Israeli activists: Social protests must continue despite escalation of" violence, saying:

"Despite the escalation of violence in the south, the tent protesters are determined to keep fighting for social justice, said organizers over the weekend."

Tel Aviv protest leader Stav Shafir said:

"We'll need to find new and creative ways to protest. For many years, Israeli society got used to giving in due to security issues....Because the protest is so strong, fierce, and affects all layers of society, we understand that if we don't continue, things will be worse."

Indeed so. As a result, staying the course is crucial to have any hope for success. National Student Union leader Itzik Shmueli said:

"The goal is to get the government to fix matters such as health care, education and housing....There's no reason for the protests to die out. We have a very powerful weapon on our side - the truth."

Hopefully that spirit won't wane despite Israel's objective to crush it. In fact, it was present Saturday night, YNet News saying Tel Aviv "protesters march(ed) under red banners....chanting time-honored slogans from the oeuvre of the pacifist hard Left." They included:

"Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies."

"We demand social justice in both Israel and the Territories."

"Let us live in dignity in both Gaza and Ashdod," and

"No to another war that will bury the protest."

Imagine that spirit inspiring all Israelis. It's already present in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, so why not throughout all Eretz Yisrael.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at

Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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