Does Israel Have the Right to Self-defense?

Cherif Teimi

November 23, 2023

After the unexpected and unprecedented attack on the Zionist entity (Israel) by Hamas on the 7th of October 2023, Israel was entitled to the right of self-defense without conditions or limits! The act of resistance by the Palestinian resistance movements — as a natural reaction to the long-lasting blockage, oppression, persecution, ethnic cleansing, and destruction that the people of Gaza have been subjected to for 17 years now (not to mention the nasty actions by the Israeli soldiers toward Al Aqsa Mosque and cold-blooded executions of the Palestinians in the West Bank …) — is taken to be a justification for the brutal war on the unarmed and unprotected Gazan People. The US and EU governments have all declared that Israel has the right to defend itself against “Hamas”. However, how can bombing civilians in their homes be self-defense? How can bombarding hospitals be self-defense? How can killing women and children be self-defense? How can firing an ambulance with a guided missile be self-defense? …

The Israeli Government and its media campaign, as well as the Western governments and their mainstream media, adopt a false approach by which they deny decades of oppression and persecution that Israel has been committing against the Palestinians. I call this approach Denial Approach.

Denial Approach:

Related to our topic, I define the Denial Approach as a strategy of ignoring the behaviors and actions of the oppressor, as well as not acknowledging the reality, and denying the consequences of those behaviors and actions.

After October 7, 2023, adopting this approach, the US and most Western governments claimed that Israel has the right to defend itself denying a history of more than 75 years of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Indeed, they acted as if the struggle between the Palestinians and the Israelis started on the aforementioned date; when Hamas started the attack first! This behavior clearly shows that the Western political regimes deny the Palestinians their right to resist the longest occupation in contemporary history and grant it to the occupier who is systematically committing crimes of ethnic cleansing against the indigenous people of Palestine.

The Misinterpretation of the UN Law

Both Israel and the US governments have justified the barbaric and brutal bombardment of Gaza by misinterpreting international law, based on the pretext of “self-defense”. Eventually, they took the articles 2 (4) and 51 from the UN charter as a cover to vindicate the Israeli destruction of Gaza:

Article 2 (4):

“All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”

Article 51:

“Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defense shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.”

Herein, the question that must be asked is: do these two texts from the UN charter really allow Israel to carry on blind and non-discriminate bombardments on Gaza causing nearly 13300 deaths (on 11/20/2023; the number is increasing every hour) and the destruction of every means of life; not to mention the cut-off of water and electricity and the enclosure of the Rafah Border Crossing; the only gate for food supply for the people of Gaza (…)?!

The two texts above are used deceivably and maliciously to justify the Israeli crimes against the Palestinians for at least two reasons. The first is that the texts are vague and ambiguous so that they are applied to any attack against a state; whereas they are supposed to refer to an attack of an independent state against another independent one! The second is that the use of the texts is accompanied by denying (the Denial Approach is applied again!) the fact that Gaza is under occupation that grants its people the right to resistance according to the International Law under the term: “Right of people to self-determination/Struggle by all available means.” — how can the oppressor defend himself against the oppressed?! It’s the other way around! Therefore, Israeli and U.S. officials cannot invoke articles 2 (4) and 51 from the UN charter to justify the murder of the people of Gaza.

The 7th of October’s Attack Did Not Take Place in a Vacuum!

Unlike the previous Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon (2007- 2016), who all he could do was expressing concerns about the conflicts in the Middle East, the current Secretary-General, António Guterres (2017- present), was brave enough to call things by their name. He explicitly asserted that the attack on Israel on October, 7 by Hamas did not take place in a vacuum! He said: “It is important to also recognise the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum. The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation,”

“But the grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas. And those appalling attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people,” he added. (More declarations by Guterres). 

Hence, this takes us back to recognizing the fact that the resistance by the Palestinians is a natural reaction to the longest occupation in contemporary history.

Historical Facts

Denying the historical fact that Palestine is occupied (at least the 1967 occupied territories) does not contribute to the resolution of the issue! In fact, the US and its allies continue to support Israel in its brutal occupation and expansion by systematically taking over more and more Palestinian land, and denying the Palestinians their right to having an independent state and their right to return to their land. Adopting the Denial Approach, Israel and its supporters opt for the dehistoricization of the events by erasing the context and history of the war on Gaza to allow themselves a space to pursue more oppression and persecution against the Palestinians.

The Israeli oppression of the Palestinians has been a cruel reality for 75 years now. Under the title: The Root of Violence Is Oppression, the Jewish Voice for Peace, which is the largest progressive Jewish anti-Zionist Organization in the world, testifies that “The Israeli government may have just declared war, but its war on Palestinians started over 75 years ago. Israeli apartheid and occupation — and United States complicity in that oppression — are the source of all this violence. Reality is shaped by when you start the clock.” Concerning the case in Gaza, the Organization, in the same essay, attests that “For 16 years, the Israeli government has suffocated Palestinians in Gaza under a draconian air, sea and land military blockade, imprisoning and starving two million people and denying them medical aid. The Israeli government routinely massacres Palestinians in Gaza; ten-year-olds who live in Gaza have already been traumatized by seven major bombing campaigns in their short lives.” Oh, hold on! There is “khamas” there which is responsible for all the misery and sufferings of the people of Gaza! Claims a Zionist fool! Well, let’s have a look at the West Bank and Jerusalem where Hamas has been freezing its actions.

As stated above, and as it is well known, Palestinians have been suffering from the Israeli violations of their right for 75 years. However, let’s get a drop from the ocean and uncover the number of Palestinians killed by Israel in 2022, only. reliefweb published a report prepared by the Euro-Med Monitor team in which they documented “the killing of 204 Palestinians by Israeli army forces in 2022, 142 of whom were from the West Bank (69.6%), 37 from the Gaza Strip (18.1%), 20 from Jerusalem (9.8%), and five from the Arab localities within Israel (2.4%). It is important to note that this statistic, however, excludes the 18 Palestinians killed inadvertently during Israeli attacks — 16 in the Gaza Strip, and two in the West Bank.” (For more details, check the report). 

Amnesty International also reported that in 2022 “Israeli forces killed 151 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and injured 9,875, according to OCHA-OPT, amid a surge of military incursions that involved excessive use of force, including unlawful killings and apparent extrajudicial executions.(4) Defense for Children International-Palestine reported that Israeli forces or settlers killed 36 children across the West Bank and East Jerusalem.”

Paradoxically, as a witness from its supporter, the U.S. Department of State also reported the Israeli unlawful actions against the Palestinians in 2022. According to its report, “Significant human rights issues included credible reports of: unlawful or arbitrary killings; arbitrary or unjust detention, including of Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories; restrictions on Palestinians residing in Jerusalem including arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy, family, and home; substantial interference with the freedom of peaceful assembly and association; arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy; punishment of family members for alleged offenses by a relative; restrictions on freedom of expression and media including censorship; harassment of nongovernmental organizations; violence against asylum seekers and migrants; violence or threats of violence against Palestinians and members of national, racial, or ethnic minority groups; and labor rights abuses against foreign workers and Palestinian workers.”

Therefore, taking Hamas as a scapegoat to justify the war crimes against the Palestinians cannot help Israel escape responsibility for its awful actions. Israel cannot do all the harm to Palestinians and expect them to throw flowers at it! Nonsense!

In a nutshell, International Law does not allow Israel the right to carry on non-discriminate bombardments against the people of Gaza, nor does the common sense of normal people! Israel cannot claim the right of self-defense while it is occupying the lands of the Palestinians and committing persecution and atrocities against them. Indeed, the natural reactions of the Palestinian resistance movements against the brutal occupation are legitimate according to International Law. Also, blaming Hamas does not escape Israel the responsibility for its war crimes against Humanity; every day, Israel is murdering the Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem where Hamas has been inactive! However, denying the reality that Palestine is occupied and not acknowledging the right of the Palestinians to have their independent state do not contribute to the resolution of the issue.


·                 United Nations Charter, Chapter I: Purposes and Principles. Retrieved from:

·                 United Nations Charter, Chapter VII: Action with Respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression. Retrieved from:

·                 The Question of Palestine. Right of peoples to self-determination/Struggle by all available means – GA resolution. United Nations.  Retrieved from:

·                 UN chief says ‘clear violations of international humanitarian law’ in Gaza. Al Jazeera. Oct. 24, 2023. Retrieved from:

·                  Pappe, Ilan (Nov. 5, 2023) Why Israel wants to erase context and history in the war on Gaza. Al Jazeera. Retrieved from:

·                 The Root of Violence Is Oppression. Jewish Voice for Peace.  Retrieved from:

·                 Pulling the trigger is the first resort: Palestinians killed by Israeli army and settlers in 2022. Reliefweb. Mar. 14, 2023. Retrieved from:

·                 Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories 2022. Amnesty International. Retrieved from:

·                 2022 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Israel, West Bank and Gaza. U.S. Department of State. Retrieved from: