March 13, 2024 Special Dispatch No. 11196

Jordanian Journalist: Hamas' October 7 Attack, Taking Of Israeli Hostages Are Not Terror But Legitimate Acts Of Resistance To Occupation

March 13, 2024
Jordan, Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 11196

In an article in the London-based Qatari daily Al-Arabi Al-Jadid, Jordanian journalist Hilmi Al-Asmar writes that Hamas' October 7 attack, in which some 1,200 people were murdered and 241 were taken hostage, was not an act of terror but a legitimate act of resistance to the Israeli occupation that is sanctioned by international law. The taking of the Israeli hostages is likewise legitimate resistance according to international law and international conventions, he says. Al-Asmar explains that the Gaza Envelope area – which, it must be stressed, is not part of the territories occupied by Israel in 1967 – is occupied land that belongs to the refugees who were expelled to the Gaza Strip. Therefore, these refugees are not only entitled but obligated by law to resist the occupation. He also comes out against the Western countries and the Arab regimes that regard Hamas and other Palestinian organizations as terrorist and deny their right to resist the occupation.

Al-Asmar concludes by saying that, although the right to resist is recognized by international law, the resistance does require the approval of international law and does not heed it – "since the resistance on the ground is the one that writes history and the law and the one that grants [itself] the right to exist by virtue of its strength and the strength of its people."

Hilmi Al-Asmar (Image: Al-Dustour, Jordan)

The following are translated excerpts from Al-Hilmi's article.[1]

"According to legal experts, international law takes precedence to local law, and it regards the Palestinian organizations as resistance movements because they are fighting against occupation. Therefore, any local law – Israeli, Arab or foreign – that designates Hamas and the [other] Palestinian resistance movements as terror organizations is at odds with [international] law, to which those countries are signatory and which grants the resistance movements the right to resist occupation. This means that [this local law] is null and void.  Since the so-called Gaza Envelope is occupied land, and every part of it belongs to the refugees whom the occupation expelled to the refugee camps in the Gaza Strip, international law obligates these refugees to oppose the occupation and return to the land of their forefathers. In this sense, the attack carried out by the resistance on October 7 was a legitimate right, not a terrorist attack.

"Furthermore, according to international law, specifically Article 12 of the International Convention against the Taking of Hostages, from 1979, the taking of the Israeli hostages by the Palestinian resistance factions on October 7 is not a 'criminal' act, but is one of the legitimate rights of the resistance. According to this article… the Convention [against the Taking of Hostages] does not apply to hostages taken in the course of armed conflicts as defined by the 1949 Geneva Conventions and their protocols, including armed conflicts… in which peoples are fighting against colonial domination and alien occupation and against racist regimes…  

"Moreover, according to this convention, the arrest of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank by the occupation authorities is an act of hostage-taking, since [Israel] is an occupying regime facing resistance movements. From this perspective, it is perpetrating an act of international terrorism, and there is no need to mention that it subjects these abductees, or prisoners, to every kind of torture, violence, terror and enforced disappearance – in flagrant violation of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance… By doing so it violates all the international laws to which it is signatory. [Moreover], it was accepted as a UN member based on its commitment to the UN Charter and all the other agreements that emanate from it.

"The strange thing is that all the Western countries that are signatory to these conventions designate the Palestinian resistance movements, including Hamas, as terrorist organizations, which is at odds with international law and with the agreements that [these countries] have signed. New Zealand, [for example], did this only recently with respect to Hamas. At the same time, these countries describe the terrorism of the Nazi Zionists as [part of] 'Israel's right to defend itself,' although they know that [Israel] is an aggressive occupation regime and that nothing in international law supports this claim or expresses it explicitly. Moreover, even faced with the crime of genocide, like what happened on the morning of February 29, [2024] in Al-Nabulsi Square on Al-Rashid Street in the northern Gaza Strip,[2] none of those countries that sponsor the crimes of the Nazi entity felt any inclination to stop these crimes. They offered only feeble responses, such as asking the perpetrator of the crime to investigate itself! This is in stark contradiction to the way they regard the actions of the resistance, especially the October 7 attack, which they describe as terrorism.

"The difference between these two incidents is large, since the occupation forces fired on unarmed civilians who were rushing to obtain the flour they needed, after 140 days of having none. This cannot be likened to the desire of the refugees to return to the stolen land of their forefathers. Despite this, none of the official spokespersons of the Western countries dared to describe the crime committed in Al-Nabulsi Square as a terrorist attack. Sadly, the same is true of the Arab [regimes], which regard the Palestinian acts of resistance as a kind of 'terrorism' or violence that local law penalizes. Moreover, even as I write these lines, there are Palestinians incarcerated in Arab prisons [after being] 'convicted' of supporting Palestine and its resistance movements or of financing [these movements]!

"What has been said here about international law, which justifiably [regards] resistance as action that is necessary in order to liberate occupied land, does not mean that we [actually] consider this law or rely on it to support [the resistance] – since the resistance on the ground is the one who writes history and the law, and grants [itself] the right to exist by virtue of its strength and the strength of its people. Whoever designates it as 'terrorist' will [eventually] have to sit down [and negotiate] with it, providing it even agrees to this. Suffice it to say that some superpowers are currently negotiating with the resistance, albeit via mediators, and wait for days to hear its response to their proposals. This would not have happened to the resistance [just] on the force of international law!

"The language of the law is like a sheathed sword that apparently exists [just] to prosecute the weak, while the strong disregard this language, in light of the growing power of the gang that rules the world. What is mentioned above is [just] a humble attempt to remind [people] that resistance is legitimate even according to international law, which was drafted by the victors after the Second World War."


[1] Al-Arabi Al-Jadid (London), March 7, 2024.

[2] The reference is to an incident in which at least 118 Gazans were killed and about 760 were wounded while racing to pull food off aid trucks that were escorted by Israeli forces.

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