Article

If Not Combatants, Certainly Not Civilians

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Abstract

Stein and I see targeted killing in fundamentally different ways. Stein sees the Palestinian terrorists as civilian noncombatants who are not engaged in war or even armed conflict with Israel. As such, there is no legal or moral right to target them. I see targeted killing as an appropriate response to an intolerable threat. Israel has the right and obligation to defend itself against armed Palestinians who seek to kill as many innocent Israeli civilians as possible. So long as the Palestinian Authority is incapable or unwilling to halt terrorist attacks, most interpretations of international law, Israeli law, and just war tradition support Israel's efforts to stop these murderous attacks before they can be carried out.

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... By arguing that assassination is not permissible even if it the targets are justified and the effects positive, Stein prevents an opponent from countering with a utilitarian or virtue-based argument. In his response, David issues the counter argument that individuals who engage in terrorism cannot be considered civilians and so are legitimate targets (David 2003a). This rebuttal is loosely virtue based because it is rooted in the character of the people being targeted. ...
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... 7 The Sharon government initially opposed the idea, and many right-wing Israelis feared the wall would promote partition and undermine the possibility of Israeli annexation. They feared that what was on the east side of the barrier would be seen as separated from Israel and 3 For a debate on the assassinations, see David (2003aDavid ( , 2003b and Stein (2003). See also Byman (2006). ...
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