Journal Article - Quarterly Journal: International Security

"Just War Moral Philosophy and the 2008–09 Israeli Campaign in Gaza"

  • Jerome Slater
| Fall 2012


The 2008–09 Israeli military campaign in Gaza, commonly known as Operation Cast Lead, is best understood in the context of Israel’s “iron wall” strategy. During the 1930s, the strategy emphasized the need for overwhelming military power to break Arab resistance to the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine; since the creation of Israel in 1948, it has continued to be at the core of Israeli policies in the overall Arab-Israeli conflict. From the outset, the strategy has included attacks on civilians and their crucial infrastructures. Such attacks violate the just war moral principles of discrimination and noncombatant immunity. In addition, Cast Lead violated the just war principles of just cause and last resort, which state that wars must have a just cause and even then must be undertaken only after nonviolent and political alternatives have failed. Israel did not have a just cause in 2008–09, because its primary purpose was to crush resistance to its continuing de facto occupation and repression of Gaza. Further, Israel refused to explore the genuine possibility that Hamas was amenable to a two-state political settlement. Thus, the iron wall strategy and Operation Cast Lead, in particular, have been political as well as moral failures, undermining rather than serving Israel’s genuine long-term security needs.

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For Academic Citation: Jerome Slater. "Just War Moral Philosophy and the 2008–09 Israeli Campaign in Gaza".” Quarterly Journal: International Security, vol. 37. no. 2. (Fall 2012):

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