This essay contextualizes the 2023 Israel-Hamas war within a century-old legal history of Palestinian dispossession that has been facilitated through the violation and misuse of international law. It argues that Hamas's attacks of October 7 were not simply driven by sanguinary hatred of Jews, as some commentators have suggested. Instead, the war crimes were motivated by the Palestinians’ disillusionment with an international system that has consistently denied them their right to self-determination. This has been exacerbated by Israel's criminalization of nonviolent resistance. Such historical perspective illuminates the underlying causes not just of the present war but of the broader Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
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