Hamas War Crimes Harm Palestinians and Israelis Alike

Though it is Israel most commonly, and wrongly, accused of war crimes in the media or by international organizations, Hamas has committed numerous human rights violations and war crimes since the war began. Not just when it murdered, burned, raped, and kidnapped Israeli civilians on October 7, but also against the Palestinian civilians of the Gaza Strip. These include operating from civilian facilities, diverting aid from Palestinians, beating up Palestinians trying to access aid, and shooting at civilian convoys evacuating the combat zone of northern Gaza.   

These acts stand directly in contravention of the law of armed conflict (LOAC), which prohibits combatants from operating from civilian areas, failing to take measures to protect civilians, conducting indiscriminate attacks, and engaging in psychological terror. They are also part of a calculated Hamas strategy to create Palestinian civilian casualties and blame them on Israel to force it to yield to international pressure and capitulate before achieving its objectives. To counter both Hamas’s ongoing information warfare strategy and the tragic loss of Palestinian life at Hamas hands, the United States should work actively to disseminate facts about Hamas violations of LOAC and thereby contextualize its critiques of Israel’s conduct during its combat operations in Gaza.