CERL Executive Board Condemns the Attacks by Hamas on Israel

The Executive Board of the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law condemns the illegal terrorist attacks on Israel by Hamas and mourns the resulting loss of innocent life. The Board calls on the international community to denounce Hamas’ barbarous attacks and to demand the immediate return of all those taken hostage.

Hamas’ illegal attack included ground force incursions into Israeli territory as well as the launching of rockets into Israeli lands from Gaza. It has also involved the massacre of civilians and the taking of hostages, among them American citizens. International law condemns these barbaric attacks and makes clear that Hamas’ actions constitute an unlawful violation of Israeli sovereignty as well as a violation of the laws of war.

The deliberate targeting of civilians and the taking of hostages is never justified in armed conflict. Such actions are not protected by combatant immunity and are unprivileged acts of terrorism. Persons taking part in this conduct are liable for war crimes and should be brought to justice.

As national security professionals, international lawyers, scholars of the law of armed conflict, and retired military, we wish to leave no doubt that Israel is entitled to protect its borders and defend its citizens in the exercise of its right of self-defense, a right that is possessed by every sovereign nation. All states must exercise this right consistent with the dictates of international humanitarian law.

We also wish to make clear that opposition to Israeli policies or to the current Israeli government does not constitute a justification for Hamas’ appalling attacks on civilians. Those inclined to excuse or defend Hamas’ attacks as just retribution for the treatment of the Palestinian people are lending their support to terrorism and helping to fuel violence against innocent civilians. There can be no justification for the massacre, mutilation, and kidnapping of civilians in war, and the international community must clearly denounce it under all circumstances.

The international community must intervene now before further loss of innocent life occurs. Hamas endangers not only the people of Israel, but the innocent Palestinians living in Gaza who take no part in Hamas’ murderous activities. We pray for the safe return of the hostages and for the peace and security of both Israel and Gaza.

Claire O. Finkelstein
Faculty Director
Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law

Morton H. Halperin
Chair of the Executive Board
Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law

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CERL Executive Board Condemns the Attacks by Hamas on Israel