War on Hamas | International Law

On January 11th, 2024 the ICJ (International Court of Justice) heard oral arguments by South Africa alleging that Israel has violated the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in its military response to the Hamas attacks of October 7, 2023. 

At the heart of the hearings was the question of whether or not the Court should issue the provision measures requested by South Africa, which would request that Israel immediately suspend its military operations in Gaza. It's decision on the case is expected on Friday, January 26th. 

Watch this short video explainer on the ICJ hearing: 

 Listen to Prof. Amichai Cohen for a more in-depth understanding of international law and its application in the war against Hamas:

Publications Regarding War on Hamas | International Law



The International Court of Justice (ICJ) Order on the IDF Operation in Rafah: Commentary and Implications

The issuance of additional interim orders in the genocide proceedings underway at the ICJ limits Israel’s operational wiggle room in Rafah, but leaves it with some flexibility in the interpretation and implementation of the new orders.


What Constitutes Professional Judicial Conduct? Barak’s Lesson to the ICJ Judges

The International Court of Justice in The Hague (ICJ) issued new temporary orders against Israel this week. Justice Barak’s dissenting opinion would seem to offer an important lesson for the future. Professional, focused, and well-founded legal criticism—as opposed to the very different means that are currently being widely discussed and pursued—is likely the best way to deal with the ICJ.


The Prosecutor’s Uphill Legal Battle?: The Netanyahu and Gallant ICC Arrest Warrant Requests

In this article, we wish to identify and discuss here some potential problems we identify in the part of the request pertaining to Netanyahu and Gallant, at least as it was presented in the Prosecutor’s short announcement and by the expert report supporting it. 


ICC Arrest Warrants Would Harm Israel at Home and on the International Stage

From damage to scientific collaboration to cancellation of arms deals, arrest warrants for senior Israeli officials from the International Criminal Court in the Hague would pose a serious challenge to Israel


The Sanctions Against Israelis

The US, the UK, France and other states have announced the imposition of economic sanctions on Israeli residents who are believed to be complicit in 'settler violence.' This document aims to outline the framework of international economic sanctions and contextualize the sanctions imposed on Israelis. 


Justice Aharon Barak's Opinion Illuminated What the ICJ Missed

While the ICJ decision briefly mentions the immediate context of the lawsuit, namely the Hamas attack on October 7, 2023, Judge Barak directs them to the full picture that they did not address. He writes about the events of October 7 as Israelis know them to be true.


On the Delicate Balance of the ICJ Decision on Temporary Measures

While neither Israel nor South Africa achieved a complete win, one thing is clear: the story of Israel before the ICJ is only beginning

Press Release

Statement on the ICJ Decision On Provisional Measures

Prof. Amichai Cohen, a senior fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute and an expert in international law, made the following comments on the International Court of Justice (ICJ) decision today regarding provisional measures in the case of South Africa v. Israel on the Application of the Genocide Convention.


ICJ Provisional Measures in South Africa v. Israel

On Friday, January 26, the International Court of Justice issued its Opinion granting provisional measures in South Africa’s genocide case against Israel. Joining the Just Security Podcast to discuss the Court’s Opinion and its implications are law professors Adil Haque, Oona Hathaway, and IDI's Yuval Shany.


On South Africa's Misinterpretation of Amalek in Jewish Tradition

Beyond the fact that the Torah does not make the call to commit genocide, the Tanach and its interpretations in fact obligate the Jewish people to abide by the laws of war. To a large extent, humanity's earliest laws of war can be found in the Bible. 


South Africa vs. Israel at the International Court of Justice: A Battle Over Issue-Framing and the Request to Suspend the War

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) at the Hague held public hearings in the case against Israel for alleged violations of the Genocide Convention. In this essay we address three aspects of the case: the ways the parties framed the events, the request to suspend Israeli military operations, and the conditions for issuing provisional measures. 

Legal Opinion

International Court of Justice in The Hague Genocide Proceedings -

One of the claims brought forth in the Application against Israel that it is committing genocide against the Palestinians is that many senior members of the government made references to the biblical precept to wipe out the memory of the ancient Amaleks. This is my professional opinion on the meaning of these locutions and the use made of them in the Application. 

Special Project

The ICJ Hearings on Israel and the War on Hamas

On January 11th, the court will begin by hearing South Africa’s oral argument, with Israel presenting its counter argument on January 12th.

What does the international law state and what are the possible implications of these proceedings on the ongoing war and Israel’s international standing? We’ve compiled a shortlist of important information you should have.


Explainer: South Africa’s Case Against Israel at the International Court of Justice

The ICJ is hearing allegations that Israel has violated the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. What is the ICJ? How is the government responding? What are the implications for the war against Hamas and Israel’s international standing?
All the answers in a special IDI explainer.

Research Reel

International Law and the War in Gaza

IDI's Prof. Amichai Cohen answers a series of questions on international law and its dealings with the laws of war.


Selective Use of Facts and the Gaza Genocide Debate

The recent application by South Africa to the International Court of Justice brought against Israel under the Genocide Convention illuminates how international law and international institutions can be employed to address the Israel-Hamas war.


Israel's War in Gaza and International Law

International law is a normative system that regulates the conduct between states, organizations recognized by international law and at times, individuals. This explainer presents an overview of international law in conflict and its application in Israel's war against Hamas.   


What Matters Now to Prof. Amichai Cohen: Is the IDF acting legally in Gaza?

Is the IDF acting legally and ethically in Gaza? The Times of Israel recently held an hour-long webinar on this topic with IDI's Prof. Amichai Cohen.


The Hostage Situation in Gaza and the Responsibilities of the International Community

This article discusses the responsibilities of the international community with respect to the ongoing war in Gaza, and particularly focusing on responsibilities with regard to the hostage situation. 


International Law "Made In Israel" Vs. International Law "Made For Israel"

Tendentious interpretations of international law are not surprising considering the high emotions surrounding the long and bloody Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, to serve its purpose guiding the conduct of States and retain a high degree of legitimacy, international law must serve as a common legal language. 


Does the High Court of Justice Intervene in Decisions to Release Prisoners?

Appeals to the HCJ to intervene in decisions relating to the release of prisoners are fairly common, but the Court has repeatedly rejected these appeals, noting that on issues of national defense and diplomacy, the bounds for judicial oversight are particularly narrow. 


Israel's War Cabinet: A Brief History of War Powers and Institutional Ambiguity

Israel’s decision-making in the current conflict must be understood in the context of its government’s complex institutional structure related to war.


Women in War Under International Law

Now, when it is clear that Hamas’s murderous attack was unprecedented in its extreme violence, including sexual violence, the relevant international bodies—such as the UN Security Council, UN Women, and the International Red Cross—must respond to these incidents.


The War in Gaza: Who is Authorized to Approve a Deal for the Return of the Hostages in Exchange for the Release of Palestinian Prisoners?

The state has a moral and ethical duty of the highest order to act as quickly as possible to free and return all the hostages and the missing. But what is the legal mechanism that should be applied when agreeing deals to secure their release which also involve freeing Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons?


Unpacking Key Assumptions Underlying Legal Analyses of the 2023 Hamas-Israel War

The current round of violence between Hamas and Israel has already given rise to many expressions of legal opinion. In this essay, we map some key assumptions and unpack how they can significantly affect ongoing legal debates and deliberations. 


The War on Hamas and International Law

International law does not forbid the evacuation of residents to the southern Gaza Strip; on the contrary, it would appear to demand of Israel that it warns residents and encourages them to leave.


The Hamas Abductions and International Law

Details and clarifications on the international crimes committed by the Hamas in their abduction of Israeli civilians, and the responsibilities attached to these crimes.



Hamas’s horrendous October 7 attack on Israeli civilians and Israel’s anticipated response pose a unique challenge to scholars and practitioners of the Law of Armed Conflict or International Humanitarian Law (IHL), possibly a challenge they have never faced before.


Israel needs a strong supreme court now more than ever

Justice Hayut's retirement from the presidency of the Supreme Court was well-known in advance, however, the Minister of Justice's refusal to convene the Judicial Selection Committee leaves Israel with a temporary replacement during a national emergency.


Special State of Emergency in Israel’s Court System

What is a special state of emergency and who declares it?

Minister of Justice Levin declared a "special state of emergency" on October 7th, which has since been extended and is currently valid until October 20th. How does this affect the justice system in Israel?


The Case for a Lean, Unified Wartime Cabinet

The main demand made by Benny Gantz, chair of the National Unity party, for entering an emergency government is the establishment of a war cabinet. Why is this important and what would the powers of a war cabinet be? 


The War on Hamas: The Decision to Go to War, in Theory and Practice in Israel

Is the operation in Gaza a war, who is authorized declare war and what is the role of the cabinet and the government after war is declared?


The War on Hamas: Special Situations and Emergency Events

The minister of national security declared a civil emergency event on October 7th, the first time in Israel's history such an ordinance was used. What is the difference between a "special home front situation" and a "civil emergency?"


Emergency Governments in Israel

As the brutal attack from Gaza continues, the possibility of a change in the composition in the government is being bandied about. What kind of government is possible and what has been done in the past?