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Argument: Israel air strikes in November, 2008 unraveled the ceasefire

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Victor Katan. "Gaza: Not a War of Self-Defense". Jurist. January 15, 2008 - According to a fact sheet produced by the Israeli consulate in New York City, after the ceasefire began in June 2008, the rate of rocket and mortar fire from Gaza dropped to almost zero, and stayed there for four straight months. As Nancy Kanwisher, Johannes Haushofer and Anat Biletzki point out in the Huffington Post, the ceasefire ended on 4 November 2008 “when Israel first killed Palestinians, and Palestinians then fired rockets into Israel.” For the purposes of the law of self-defence, however, it is not always a question of who attacks first—although Article 2 of the UN General Assembly’s 1974 Definition of Aggression stipulates that: “The first use of armed force by a State in contravention of the Charter shall constitute prima facie evidence of an act of aggression.” As Professor Yoram Dinstein of Tel Aviv University argues in his book War, Aggression and Self-Defence (Cambridge University Press 2005) p. 191, it “is not who fired the first shot but who embarked upon an apparently irreversible course of action, thereby crossing the legal Rubicon. The casting of the die, rather than the actual opening of fire, is what starts the armed attack.” But without doubt, it was Israel’s 27 December attack on Gaza, the biggest air assault on the Strip since 1967, that, to use Dinstein’s phrase, constituted the crossing of the “legal Rubicon.” Although, according to the Israeli Government, Hamas had fired hundreds of rockets into southern Israel in the week prior to its 27 December attack, only one Israeli civilian had been killed by a rocket in his apartment building in Netivot. Importantly, these rockets were fired as retaliatory action for the 4 November 2008 assassinations carried out by Israel in Gaza.

Zvi Barel wrote in Haaretz: "Six months ago Israel asked and received a cease-fire from Hamas. It unilaterally violated it when it blew up a tunnel, while still asking Egypt to get the Islamic group to hold its fire."[1]

Haaretz editorial: "Israel's violation of the lull in November expedited the deterioration that gave birth to the war of yesterday" [2]

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