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Dershowitz: Targeted Killings Are Legal

Harvard Law Prof. Alan M. Dershowitz says there is absolutely no doubt that Israel's policy of targeted killings of senior Hamas terrorists is legal under international law.
First Publish: 9/19/2003, 5:32 PM

International Affairs Correspondent Michael Freund reports that in an opinion piece in Tuesday's Toronto Globe and Mail, Dershowitz wrote that Hamas has declared war against Israel, and therefore "all of its leaders are combatants, whether they wear military uniforms, suits or religious garb." He continued, "Under international law, combatants are appropriate military targets until they surrender. They may be killed in their sleep, while preparing military actions or while participating in any other activity. They need not be arrested, or even given a chance to surrender."

Comparing Hamas to Al-Qaeda, Dershowitz argued that there is no distinction between the so-called military and political wings of the organizations, saying, "The official policy of Hamas, like that of al Qaeda, is the mass murder of civilians. The decision to employ that policy was made by its so-called 'political' leaders."

"Under any reasonable standard," he concluded, "Israeli policy with regard to the targeted assassinations of 'ticking-bomb terrorists' does not deserve the kind of condemnation it is receiving. Any democracy facing threats to its civilian population comparable to those faced by Israel would respond in much the same way Israel is now responding to the terrorism being conducted by Hamas and other terrorist groups," wrote the Felix Frankfurter professor of law at Harvard Law School.

Dershowitz is also the author of a recent book, "The Case for Israel," which addresses and refutes over 30 of the most grievous allegations made against the Jewish state by its critics.