The IDF’s recent use of lethal force on the Gaza border cannot be addressed with a general response of “it was lawful” or it was “unlawful.” There are a lot of “Ifs”, wherein specifics are required to provide a thoughtful legal evaluation.

If Palestinian/Hamas “protesters” were planting plastic explosives at the border wall, then using deadly force against them was legal.

If Palestinian/Hamas “protesters” were opening gunfire upon Israeli soldiers, then using deadly force against them was legal.

If Palestinian/Hamas “protesters” were throwing Moltov cocktails Israeli soldiers, then using deadly force against them was legal.

If Palestinian/Hamas “protesters” were throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers, then using deadly force against them was not legal.

If Palestinian/Hamas “protesters” were just congregated and yelling, then using deadly force against them was not legal.

With reference to the Palestinian/Hamas protester who was allegedly shot in the back (running away from the wall), the shooting would be unlawful if he did not engage in any lethal force attempt against the Israelis. If he had shot at Israeli soldiers (or was planting explosives at the border wall), his sudden attempt to retreat would not prohibit Israeli forces from shooting at him. Even in the U.S., self-defense laws, in most states, do not require a victim from disengaging lethal force where a criminal elects to suddenly retreat. Why? Because it is quite possible that this same person will immediately turn around and attempt to kill again.

Israeli nationals on the one hand, and Palestinians/Hamas members on the other, have been engaged in acts of war against each other for some time. It is difficult, if not unjust, to evaluate this matter without considering the history. During the 2014 Gaza war, 73 Israeli citizens were killed, with hundreds more injured, via rockets launched by Hamas; no doubt, numerous Palestinians were killed and injured, as well.

More so, evidence appears to indicate that the IDF delivered warning shots, as well as tear gas, in an effort to avoid using deadly force. If Palestinian/Hamas “protesters” – who either fired at Israeli soldiers, threw Moltov cocktails at them, or attempted to plant plastic explosives at the border wall – were shot after warning shots/tear gas were used, then justice was served and there certainly was no criminal activity on the IDF’s part.  Alternatively, if these were just peaceful protesters who came “too close” to the wall, then the killings would amount to murder.

All that said, maybe it would be smart to just stay away from the wall. Lives could be saved that way.

Kenneth Del Vecchio is the author of some of the nation’s best-selling legal books, including a series of criminal codebooks published by Pearson Education/Prentice Hall and ALM/New Jersey & New York Law Journal Books. He is a former judge, a former prosecutor and a practicing criminal/entertainment attorney for 23 years, wherein he has tried over 400 cases.  Mr. Del Vecchio is also an acclaimed filmmaker who has written, produced and directed over 30 movies that star 100+ film and TV stars, including several Academy Award and Emmy winners and nominees. His films are distributed through industry leaders such as Sony Pictures, NBCUniversal, Cinedigm, and E-1 Entertainment. He has starred in numerous movies, as well. A best-selling political thriller novelist, he penned his first published novel at only 24-years-old. Additionally, Mr. Del Vecchio is the founder and chairman of Hoboken International Film Festival, called by FOX, Time Warner, and other major media “One of the 10 Biggest Film Festivals in the World.”  A frequent legal and political  analyst on networks such as Fox News Channel, Mr. Del Vecchio formerly served as the publisher and editorial page editor for a New Jersey daily newspaper.