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Business News/ News / World/  Gaza hospital attack: How Hamas and Israel can be stopped from committing war crimes? Explained

Gaza hospital attack: How Hamas and Israel can be stopped from committing war crimes? Explained

Hamas and Israel both break international laws in the middle east war

Hamas and Israel both break international laws in the middle east war (AFP)Premium
Hamas and Israel both break international laws in the middle east war (AFP)

Despite the saying all is fair in love and war,  the ‘Hamas attack cannot be justified…’ 

Enforcing laws during war's chaos is tough. Holding perpetrators accountable post-conflict is often elusive due to complexities and challenges. But there are clear evidences that show both Palestinian militant group Hamas and Israel have been breaking international laws since the start of the war. 

As per the United Nations, there are some rules that needs to be followed even at the most challenging times. Noting the same, UN chief Antonio Guterres pointed out ‘The Hamas attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people’

Here's look at the international laws that are being broken by Israel and Haman and how the international agencies like ICC and UN stop them from committing war crimes

What are the rules that countries need to follow during the war? 

Internationally recognized laws, including the UN Charter, forbid aggressive wars but permit self-defense. Battlefield conduct is governed by the Geneva Conventions, established after World War II and endorsed by most nations, to safeguard humanitarian principles.

Here are key rules that needs to be followed by warring countries: 

Civilians, the wounded and prisoners must be treated humanely in wartime. Murder, torture, hostage-taking and “humiliating and degrading treatment" are banned.  Also, fighters to treat the other side’s sick and wounded. The four conventions agreed upon these rules in 1949. 

These rules apply both in times of war and conflict. 

War crimes like attacks on civilians, civilian settlements or humanitarian workers, destroying property where militarily is nor necessary, sexual violence and unlawful deportation are illegal. This is cited in the law of war by International Criminal Court. 

Use of certain weapons, such as chemical or biological munitions are also not allowed. 

What were the international laws broken by Israel and Hamas? 


Hamas launched numerous rockets at Israeli cities and infiltrated Gaza's border on October 7, targeting civilians, including children and the elderly. Israel reported casualties, deaths, and abductions in the conflict.

Noting that evidence of crimes is clear, Haim Abraham, a lecturer in law at University College London, said “They massacred civilians at their homes. They kidnaped civilians, taking them hostage. All of these things are clearly war crimes," he told AP.

Jeanne Sulzer, a lawyer with the Commission for International Justice of Amnesty International France, said the Geneva Conventions state that “civilians should never be taken hostage. If they are, that may be characterized as a war crime."


The Israeli military has launched airstrikes on Hamas-ruled Gaza, imposing a blockade and prompting concerns of collective punishment. Gaza authorities report numerous casualties and injuries. Gaza authorities say 2,800 people have died and 11,000 have been injured during days of bombardment. Critics accuse Israel of collectively punishing Gaza's 2 million residents.

The Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross has said the instruction for hundreds of thousands of people to leave their homes, “coupled with the complete siege explicitly denying them food, water, and electricity, are not compatible with international humanitarian law."

How the international agencies help stop the war? 

The United Nations Commission of Inquiry is gathering evidence of war crimes from all parties involved in the current conflict. This evidence could be used in the International Criminal Court's ongoing investigation regarding the Palestinian territories. However, some nations, such as the United States, Russia, and Israel, do not recognize the ICC's jurisdiction. Additionally, the ICC lacks a police force to enforce arrest warrants and order compensation for victims.

In such cases, other international courts including the International Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights can hear cases related to alleged violations. So can domestic courts in Israel or elsewhere, Under U.S. law, American victims could try to bring claims for compensation against Hamas in U.S. courts.

Breaches of international law can also trigger sanctions – such as those imposed on Russia by the United States, the European Union and others over the invasion of Ukraine – and in rare cases draw U.N.-authorized military intervention.

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Sanchari Ghosh
Sanchari Ghosh is a Chief Content Producer with LiveMint. She covers news, human interest, epidemiology and personal finance stories
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Published: 18 Oct 2023, 01:43 PM IST
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