Israel, Hamas both committing war crimes, Emory Law School professor says

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict dates back decades. Thousands of people on both sides have been murdered. The recent fighting has been just as horrific. In fact, a legal expert tells FOX 5 both sides may be committing war crimes.

Both Israelis and the Palestinians claim the other side has committed human-rights violations and atrocities.

"I think there isn’t any questions of violations humanitarian law, war crimes, violation of human rights," said Hallie Ludsin, a visiting professor and Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory Law School. 

"There are laws of war. There are rules of conduct. The most fundamental rule is that you cannot attack civilians. You cannot make them the primary target of attack," said Ludsin, who specializes in international law.


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Israel and Hamas militants that control Gaza have been locked in armed conflict dating back to the 1987 Intifada, a series of Palestinian uprisings. This past weekend, Hamas targeted civilians in brutal attacks on Israel.

"The indiscriminate shelling that’s coming from Gaza, there’s a disregard for the fact that you could hit civilians. That’s also a war crime. Taking of hostages also a war crime," said Ludsin. 

Israel declared a siege.

"Cutting off electricity, cutting off food and water into the Gaza Strip. That also is considered primarily targeting civilians and that means that is also a war crime," said Ludsin. "Just because one side commits a war crime, that doesn’t free you up under international law to have the other side commit a war crime." 

The recent hostilities are complicated and date back decades. Jewish leaders created Israel in 1948 as a safe-haven for persecuted Jews. Palestinians say that blocked their dreams of statehood and forced hundreds of thousands of their people from their homes. Israel disputes that assertion. 

"There’s a lot of passion on each side. We’re also just living in a very politically polarized time that just makes it almost impossible to see the humanity in each side," Ludsin said.