U.S. and other nations must establish a ceasefire in Gaza NOW


Hamas has no right to attack Israel with indiscriminate rockets, or with commandos entering through tunnels.

Israel has a right of self-defense under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.

But that right must still be exercised in accordance with the requirements under international law of immediacy, necessity, and proportionality for any measues of force taken in self-defense.

That right must also be exercised in accordance with the requirements of humanitarian law or “the laws of war”.

That means Israel can’t lawfully target hospitals and schools, and probably means that the targeting of Gaza’s sole electric power generator and storage tanks cannot be justified as an act that is necessary and proportionate to the achievement of a military objective, in the face of an immediacy requirement for action leaving no alternative of action.

The fact that the government of a territory engages in armed attacks against Israel does not give the latter the right to destroy whole swaths of the Gaza Strip, and to reduce that territory to rubble.

Just as it was morally and legally wrong to allow the Iraqi invasion of Iran in 1980 to proceed, because of anger at Iran over the seizure of the American embassy in Tehran and the view that the country was a bad actor, it is wrong to allow Israel to proceed further under the illusion that if given a free reign it can physically and materially destroy Hamas, just because the organization is a bad actor.

Instead, the United States and other countries should act immediately, with the greatest urgency, to secure the establishment of a ceasefire in Gaza. Absent consent of the parties, a ceasefire can be imposed by the U.N. Security Council acting under Chapter VII of the U. N. Charter. Regional countries, including Qatar, Iran, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, should also play their part.

The United States holds enormous power to influence Israel’s actions, because it is only a veto by the United States that prevents the U. N. Security Council from taking action against Israel.

This is real leverage, and it should be used in order to protect the civilians and civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.

Domestic political lobbies in the U.S. should be managed to allow such leverage to be exercised, for ends which ultimately will benefit Israelis as well as Palestinians. America’s strong alliance with Israel should not serve as an excuse for thowing reason, and considerations of humanity, to the winds.

Israel appears to be engaged in activities in Gaza which constitute an abuse of the right of self-defense.

These activities must be stopped, for reasons of humanity.

After a ceasefire has been established, diplomatic negotiations involving a larger number of parties may take on the task of determining how to stop attacks on Israel by rockets or using tunnels, and how to end the siege of Gaza in order to open up possibilities for its inhabitants to have access to the world.

In the present conflict, there is much evidence of pure hatred on both sides. This is what happens when a hot war is underway, as the reptilian brains of partisans on both sides take control.

Now, however, it is time for cooler heads to prevail. Those cooler minds must come from outside the territories of the warring parties.

And, with whatever means may be required, a ceasefire must be imposed.

It is not too early even to begin thinking of a United Nations peacekeeping force stationed in Gaza.

For the innocent civilians, school children, civilian infrastructure, and well-being of the human beings caught up in the maw of this mindless warfare.

For reasons of humanity, for Israelis as well as Palestinians,

A ceasefire must be imposed now.

The Trenchant Observer

About the Author

James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.