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Monday, January 11, 2010
Israel's right to self-defense: Strange effects | Editorials | Jerusalem Post
"There is something about the Arab-Israeli conflict that does strange things to people. Even otherwise distinguished personalities, who in every other context are rational, sensible thinkers, become unrecognizable. The international law of self-defense is a case in point. United Nations. United Nations. Photo: AP [file] It is trite to say that the first and most basic human instinct is that of self-preservation. Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, which enshrines "the inherent right" of self-defense, emanates from this. The occurrence of "an armed attack" triggers the right. In the context of Israel's incursion into Gaza last year, in response to several thousand rockets which had been fired from there into Israel over a period of years, a letter appeared in The Times of London, exactly a year ago today, signed by 31 lawyers. The lead signatory was Sir Ian Brownlie, professor emeritus of public international law at Oxford University, undoubtedly one of the world's preeminent international law authorities. The letter asserted, in so many words, the astonishing proposition that the thousands of rockets which landed in Israel (and were aimed at civilian populations and centers) "do not, in terms of scale and effect, amount to an armed attack entitling Israel to rely on self-defense." "