Hamas’ civilian shields: International law expert: “Israel doesn’t have to accept this”

Hamas civilian shields
International lawyer: “Israel doesn’t have to accept this”

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Israel is under international pressure because of its conduct of the war. The German international lawyer Matthias Herdegen defends the military’s actions. Rather, he sees serious violations by Hamas.

The Bonn international lawyer Matthias Herdegen has defended Israel against international criticism. Despite the many civilian casualties on the Palestinian side, the much-criticized actions of the Israeli armed forces in the Gaza Strip were legally justified, Herdegen told the Germany editorial network. “Israel does not have to accept that Hamas permanently and illegally entrenches itself behind defenseless civilians.”

“International law does not force the attacked party to limit its combat operations so that the number of victims of the attacker does not exceed the number of those killed in their own country,” Herdegen explained. “Such a barrier would undermine the right to self-defense, especially against those parties to the conflict who use victims of their own population as a means of fighting.”

The 66-year-old lawyer Matthias Herdegen is director at the Institute for International Law in Bonn.

The 66-year-old lawyer Matthias Herdegen is director at the Institute for International Law in Bonn.

(Photo: picture alliance/dpa)

In return, the expert accused the militant Islamist Palestinian organization Hamas of serious violations by setting up weapons depots under clinics, homes and schools. “This form of preparation for a conflict is already a blatant violation of the regulations of international humanitarian law.” In this case, a hospital would also lose its absolute protection under international law.

The actions of the Israeli army and, in particular, the storming of the Al-Shifa hospital in the city of Gaza in recent days had provoked international criticism. Israel suspects the headquarters of the radical Islamic Palestinian organization Hamas is in tunnels under the hospital complex.

Hamas commits atrocities against civilians

Israel has set its sights on destroying Hamas after hundreds of fighters from the Palestinian organization, designated a terrorist organization by the US and EU, entered Israel on October 7 and committed atrocities mostly against civilians. According to Israeli figures, around 1,200 people were killed and around 240 people were taken hostage to the Gaza Strip.

In response to the Hamas attack, Israel began massive attacks on targets in the Gaza Strip, and ground troops have now moved into the area. According to Hamas figures, which cannot be independently verified, around 12,000 people have been killed in the Palestinian territory since the attacks began.

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