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IHL: A Fading Shield in Israel-Gaza Conflict

Updated: Oct 29, 2023

The world has seen first-hand the terrible effects of violence on defenseless civilians and the seeming weakening of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) in the wake of the ongoing Israeli-Hamas conflict.

The displacement of over a million people and the incalculable loss of life on both sides, including that of children and the elderly, highlight a worrisome contempt for basic values. In order to facilitate the establishment of enduring peace in the region, it is essential that the Israeli-Hamas strikes come to a halt.

International Humanitarian Law, sometimes known as the "gentle civilizer of nations," sets forth precise guidelines for the behavior of all parties involved in an armed conflict with the aim of minimizing human suffering. But the current state of affairs between Israel and Hamas has called into doubt the effectiveness of these legal requirements. The relevance of different agreements and protocols intended to regulate conduct during times of conflict must be considered by international lawyers, policymakers, and the global society.

As the fighting intensifies, it becomes unclear who is standing out for international law. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has taken a noticeably cautious stand in its role as a protector of these principles. Its demands that International Humanitarian Law be respected have been measured and technical, and they don't seem to have the moral anger that these blatant abuses of the law deserve.

The ICRC's cautious approach may be explained by its obsession with secrecy, which may have been sparked by a worry about losing access to the parties engaged in conflict. But given the extent of suffering and the egregious violations of IHL, it is becoming more and more important to take a stronger moral stand.

The Israeli-Hamas strikes must stop immediately. It is clear that the situation has gotten much out of hand in relation to what IHL allows; examples of violations include summary executions, hostage-taking, and bombing of residential areas. The ongoing violence not only causes incalculable harm to individuals but also threatens the fundamental principles of International Humanitarian Law.

In addition to calling for a halt to the bloodshed, the international community, political figures, and legal professionals must reiterate the significance of IHL. There has never been a greater urgent need to preserve innocent lives and bring back respect for the laws of war. It is time for the world to come together and demand an immediate end to hostilities as well as a firm adherence to the fundamentals of International Humanitarian Law.


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