From the ancient time, so many different cultures around the world had discussions on ethics and morality in wars. They were also improved and achieved a significant value in western civilization, afterward. There has been also so many books and articles written about the conditions of war; Hugo Grotius (1583-1645), a Dutch philosopher, wrote De Jure Belli Ac Pacis (The Rights of War and Peace), to name one.
Gradually, countries recognized that the use of force necessitated a degree of oversight and supervision. With Hague and Geneva Conventions, International Humanitarian Law, also known as Law of Armed Conflict or Law of War, became a dominant feature of the twentieth century. It was created to rein in armed conflict, by restricting warfare’s means and tactics.
Jus ad bellum and jus in bello, the law that governs the way in which warfare is going on, hand out guidelines for countries about necessities of war. It explains the aim of war, and whether it is fought for self-defense or to defend human rights.
In this context, the issue of Israel’s colonization of Palestinian territory and long-term injustices toward Palestinians in the Israel-Palestinian war, which has lasted nearly 72 years, emerges. The crisis between Israel and Palestine has been drawn into the dark depths of international law. Israel said that Arab nations attacked Israel first as a newly formed country, citing UN Resolution 181. The Arab nations representing Palestinians accused Israel of attempting to create a state on Palestinian land illegally. But, who is the real first aggressor?
Furthermore, Israel claims that the war was waged in self-defense. Similarly, Arab nations contend that the war against Israel was waged to protect Palestinian territories.
Clearly, power imbalances between big and small countries play a significant role here. As a powerful state supported by great force, Israel continues to view jus ad bellum in accordance with its own national interests and stability. In the Palestinian situation, jus ad bellum is always sacrificed in the process.
Israel does not acknowledge Palestinians. Palestinians struggle for the protection of their homelands, which is sometimes referred to as “terrorism.” Only a small percentage of real politics sees “self-defense” as a central cause of the Palestinian rebellions. The spirit of self-defense among Palestinians is often equated with terrorism. “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter,” has become a well-known political axiom.
In fact, states have always violated the IHL (International Humanitarian Law) in a number of disputes. The Israeli-Palestinian crisis is no exception. In the service of its national interest and stability, Israel is the one to break the rules of jus in bello. Israel is not able to tell the difference between “non-combatants” and “combatants.”
In their war against Palestinians, Israel attacks Palestinian people, their property, homes, properties, offices, schools, historical landmarks, hospitals, medical transports, water supplies and facilities, and olive production, all of which are deliberate violations of the Geneva Conventions’ jus in bello.
Israel accepted the Geneva Conventions in 1951 after signing them in December 1949. Every convention’s first article states that the sponsors will “respect and ensure respect for the conventions in all circumstances.”
Israel, on the other hand, is well-known for violating the Geneva Conventions in the face of international criticism. The CJPME (Canadian Justice and Peace in the Middle East, 2004) has recorded Israel’s establishment of Jewish colonies, house evacuations, forced displacement, indiscriminate killings, imprisonment, mistreatment of civilians, unlawful relocations, rapes, and abuse of medical units and staff.
In the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza, Israel has disobeyed its obligations as the occupying force. In the UN and international community’s criticism of Israel’s actions in the Middle East, no country has been able to prevent it. The western nations, which were largely responsible for the development of the IHL, were unable to persuade Israel to obey it.
There is no need for more clarification, the limitations of liberal institutions in the Israeli-Palestinian crisis are obvious. In real politics, liberal institutions are in fact, empty promises. Power is a major factor in the dispute. Strong nations, such as Israel, are willing to break all the laws in order to accomplish their national goals. International law comes after Israel’s national interest, as a secondary factor.