Belfer Center Home > Publications > Academic Papers & Reports > Journal Articles > "Just War Moral Philosophy and the 2008–09 Israeli Campaign in Gaza"

EmailEmail   PrintPrint Bookmark and Share

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

Palestinian rescue workers carry a wounded prisoner past a fire after an Israeli missile strike in Gaza.
AP Images

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

Journal Article, International Security, volume 37, issue 2, page 44–80

Fall 2012

Author: Jerome Slater

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: Quarterly Journal: International Security



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.


For more information about this publication please contact the IS Editorial Assistant at 617-495-1914.

For Academic Citation:

Jerome Slater. "Just War Moral Philosophy and the 2008–09 Israeli Campaign in Gaza." International Security 37, no. 2 (Fall 2012): 44–80.

Bookmark and Share

Events Calendar

We host a busy schedule of events throughout the fall, winter and spring. Past guests include: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former Vice President Al Gore, and former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev.