Israeli compliance with International Law including International Humanitarian Law–and policy of political assassination abroad

Adapted and expanded from an article published in The Trencant Observer, on December 1, 2023


1) Dion Nissenbaum”Israel Plans to Kill Hamas Leaders Around the World After War; Nation’s spy agencies have long history of targeted assassinations,” Wall Street Journal, December 1, 2023 (updated 12:06 am ET);

2) “Netanyahu’s references to violent biblical passages raise alarm among critics, NPR Morning Edition, November 7, 2023 (5:09 am ET);

3) Robert Kagan, “A Trump dictatorship is increasingly inevitable. We should stop pretending,” Washington Post, November 30, 2023(8:00 a.m. EST);

4) Nicole Hong, “How a Suspected Indian Murder-for-Hire Plot on U.S. Soil Was Foiled; After a murder in Canada, a sting operation, prompted by an explosive tip through an unexpected channel, rushed to prevent another killing, New York Times, December 2, 2023 ( 301 a.m. ET);


Nissenbaum refers to international law, but does not elaborate on the topic, which is perhaps understandable given the main thrust of his reporting and the outstanding contribution it makes. He or another Wall Street Journal reporter should address the international law consideration in a subsequent article, taking care to consult experts and authorities from cou tries other than or in addition to Israel and tge United States.

Today he merely mentions the issue, as follows:

Targeted killings abroad can violate international law and run the risk of blowback from nations in which assassins operate without their permission. In practice, however, Israel and others have pursued targeted killings and weathered the repercussions.

Israeli and American officials tend to have idiosyncratic views on the legality of targeted killings or assassinations in foreign countries, as both Israel and tge United States have engaged in such programs. Consequently, the legality of such actions under international law cannot be assessed consulting only officials from those two countries.

To gain an accurate appreciation of tbe requirements of international law and whether Israel is complying with them, reporters need to reach out to international law experts and officials in other countries, such as the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, Mexico,Colombia, Chile, Nigeria, South Korea, and China.

See James Rowles, “What is International Law? Lesson One: International Law is INTERNATIONAL,” Trenchant Observations (Substack newsletter), November 17, 2023

During the American war in Afghanistan and the U.S. world-wide war on terror, the United States espoused some extreme interpretations of international humanitarian law, used in particular to justify its program of targeted assassinations not only in the war theater of Afghanistan but in far away countries in tge Middle East and Africa.

In Afghanistan, it appears the program of targeted assassination was an important factor in pushing rural populations toward greater sympathy with the Taliban.

U.S. interpretations of international humanitarian law were so extreme that they justified the assassination Al-Awqi in ____! despite the fact that he was a U.S. citizen and entitled to the due process under the Fifth Amendment before being deprived of his life.


1) “U.S. Targeted Assassinations Violate Citizen’s Right to Life and Due Process, Undercut International Law,” The Trenchant Observer,February 3, 2010.

2) “UPDATE: Anwar al-Aulaqi: Targeted Killings, Self-Defense, and War Crimes, The Trenchant Observer, August 6, 2010.

The fact that Israel and other countries (e.g., India) feel they can go and assassinate their opponents on foreign soil is in part due to the bad U.S. example and the extreme interpretations of international humanitarian law it has asvanced to justify its targeted killing programs.

The Trenchant Observer

As others see us: Lluis Bassetts of El País offers opinion on If Trump wins”

Developing. We are publishing this article as it is being written. Please check back for updates


1) Lluís Bassetts, “Tirana por libre elección popular: Si Trump sale vivo del avispero y llega a la meta, será el presidente con mayor poder de la historia de Estados Unidos, situado por encima de la ley con el aval del Supremo. En tal caso, no sabemos qué será de la Constitución ni de la democracia,” El País, el 20 de diciembre 2023 (23:00 EST);


The Trenchant Observer


Ist Israels Vorgehen im Gaza-Streifen “verhältnismäßig und vom Völkerrecht gedeckt”?

von Dr. James Rowles

Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law (S.J.D.), Harvard University

Ein deutscher Professor hat geschrieben dass “Israels Vorgehen im Gaza-Streifen ist verhältnismäßig und vom Völkerrecht gedeckt.”1 Dr. Matthias Herdegen, ein bekannter Völkerrechtler aus Bonn, soll das Kriegsrecht besser kennen.

Was er geschrieben hat mag gar nicht stimmen.

Bemerkenswert ist die Tatsache dass der Artikel kein Namen des Autors trägt. Das heisst dass diejenigen die an Die Welt etwas über Völkerrecht wissen, jemand wie Clemens Wergin, zum Beispiel, soll nicht im Schreiben des Artikels teilgenommen haben.

Wie ist es möglich dass Die Welt, eine führende Zeitung Deutschlands, so ein Artikel veröffentlicht?

Ohne Zitat anderen Völkerrechtler aus Deutschland oder aus anderen Ländern?

Herdegen hat einfach die Israelishe Linie wiedergespiegelt.

Vom Prinzip von Verhaltnismässigkeit und der Tatsache von ungefähr 20,000 Getötete den Schluss zu ziehen, dass Israels Vorgehen im Gaza-Streifen nicht völkerrechtswidrig sei, ist einfach eigenartig.

Was meinen die anderen Völkerrechtler, besonders die Experten im Kriegsrecht oder das humanitäre Völkerrecht?

Es ist gar nicht so einfach wie Herdegen es präsentiert hat, und als Die Welt, ohne Weiteres, es veröffentlicht hat.

Sehen Sie dazu,

James Rowles, “Israel-Gaza Conflict: Is Israel complying with International Humanitarian Law? Trenchant Observations, November 21, 2023.

James Rowles ist Völkerrechtler, ehemaliger Lecturer on Law an der Universitat Harvard, und Professor von Völkerrecht an anderen Universitäten.

Matthias Herdegen, “Israels Vorgehen im Gaza-Streifen verhältnismäßig und vom Völkerrecht gedeckt,” Die Welt, den 16. Dezember, 2023,

The Global South offers disruption, but no new international order

1) Sylvie Kauffmann, “Influent et disrupteur, le Sud global défend ses intérêts, mais n’offre pas de modèle alternatif à l’ordre occidental; Les guerres en Ukraine et à Gaza ont fait émerger en 2023 un puissant mouvement de contestation des pays occidentaux et la revendication d’un ordre international plus équitable, relève dans sa chronique Sylvie Kauffmann, éditorialiste au ‘Monde’,” le 20 dêcembre 2023 (modifié à 07h14);

2) Sylvie Kauffmann, “”Influential and disruptive, the global South defends its interests, but does not offer an alternative model to the Western order; The wars in Ukraine and Gaza brought out in 2023 a powerful protest movement by Western countries and the demand for a more equitable international order, notes in her column Sylvie Kauffmann, columnist at “Le Monde’.” December 20, 2023 (Updated at 7:14 a.m.);