Resistance to Israeli occupation – a right?

Palestinians are a people under occupation who has the right to self-determination under the UN Charter, the Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations from 1970, and Article 1 of both the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The right to self-determination

Palestinians possess a specific history in an identifiable territory, a distinct culture, and a will and capability to gain self-governance.

The right to self-determination was acknowledged by the international community in UN General Assembly Resolution 181 of 29 November 1947, and recently by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in its Advisory Opinion on the Wall (section 118). The ICJ stated that:

“…construction, along with measures taken previously, thus severely impedes the exercise by the Palestinian people of its right to self‑determination, and is therefore a breach of Israel’s obligation to respect that right” (section 122).

To the UN General Assembly website and Resolution 181
Read more about the ICJ Advisory Opinion on the Wall
Read more about the Wall

The right to resistance under international humanitarian law

International humanitarian law (IHL) does not expressly mention the right of an occupied people to resist an occupation. In 1977 article 1(4) of the First Additional Protocol (IAP) to the Geneva Conventions clearly expanded the application of the IHL to

“…armed conflicts in which peoples are fighting against colonial domination and alien occupation and against racist régimes in the exercise of their right of self-determination…”.

However, Israel is not state-party to the Protocol and is therefore not obliged to follow its clause.
To ICRC and Article 1(4)
Read more about the First Additional Protocol (IAP)

The use of force as part of resisting occupation in the Palestinian case is therefore derived from the international legitimacy to recourse to armed struggle in order to obtain the right to self-determination. In some cases resistance can also stem from the right to self-defence.

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