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War crimes in Gaza? How everyone is getting international law wrong 

“Top Story” with Jonathan Tobin and legal expert and guest Eugene Kontorovich, Ep. 115

In this week’s episode of “Top Story,” JNS editor-in-chief Jonathan Tobin asks why Jewish rights and Jewish suffering are being erased while a putative Palestinian right to slaughter Jews is treated as legitimate by so many in the chattering classes.

He says the answer isn’t sympathy for Palestinian victims in the Gaza Strip as much as it is in antisemitism and anti-Zionism, as expressed in the language of fashionable woke beliefs. What’s more, he says that it is imperative that those calling for a “free Palestine” or justifying terror should be labeled as what they are: antisemites.

He’s joined by legal expert Eugene Kontorovich, law professor and director of the Center for the Middle East and International Law at the Antonin Scalia Law School of George Mason University, who states that charges of Israel committing war crimes in Gaza are false.

Explaining in detail what international law says about the duties of combatants, Kontorovich notes that what Israel is doing in targeting terrorists in Gaza is not illegal, even if sometimes this results—as is inevitable in any war—in the deaths of civilians. Members of the terrorist organization, as well as anything it uses for military purposes, are a legitimate target. He said that by attacking Hamas, “Israel is freeing its cities from a genocidal threat. And, in fact, it is the protection of civilians. So everything Israel is doing now is dedicated to the protection of civilians.”

The claim that attacks on areas controlled by an enemy military threat is “collective punishment” is false. He said those who assert that Israel is violating international law are really just saying that they don’t believe the Jewish state has a right to defend itself, even against atrocities such as the ones committed by Hamas on Oct. 7.

He also points out that the lack of any peace movement in Gaza or criticism of Hamas tyranny is in marked contrast to the behavior of other oppressed peoples, where there have always been at least a few brave individuals who spoke out against atrocities.

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