The following is a letter signed by attorneys and academics which appeared in The Sunday Times titled “Israel’s bombardment of Gaza is not self-defence – it’s a war crime”. As Israel has illegally occupied Palestinian territory since 1967 (there is no good reason why international consensus dates the injustice to ’67; it has its roots in the ethnic cleansing of ’48) it is not defending itself, in the legal sense, and is the aggressor. Diana Buttu put it succinctly when she said, “Israel has the right to protect itself it doesn’t have the right to protect its occupation.”
ISRAEL has sought to justify its military attacks on Gaza by stating that it amounts to an act of “self-defence” as recognised by Article 51, United Nations Charter. We categorically reject this contention.
The rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas deplorable as they are, do not, in terms of scale and effect amount to an armed attack entitling Israel to rely on self-defence. Under international law self-defence is an act of last resort and is subject to the customary rules of proportionality and necessity.
The killing of almost 800 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and more than 3,000 injuries, accompanied by the destruction of schools, mosques, houses, UN compounds and government buildings, which Israel has a responsibility to protect under the Fourth Geneva Convention, is not commensurate to the deaths caused by Hamas rocket fire.