Medical Lawfare: The Nakba and Israel’s Attacks on Palestinian Healthcare
medical lawfare
laws of armed conflict
medical units

In this article, the authors coin the phrase medical lawfare to describe how Israel has been justifying its systematic attacks on healthcare facilities in the Gaza Strip during its five military assaults on the besieged enclave between 2008 and 2023. They show how Israel mobilizes the laws of armed conflict dealing with human shields and “hospital shields” to securitize lifesaving and sustaining infrastructures and legitimize their destruction. They describe how medical lawfare works as a racialized form of necropolitical governance that intensifies the Nakba’s settler-colonial logic of elimination while casting Palestinians as guilty of bringing disaster upon themselves.

Author biography: 

Nicola Perugini is senior lecturer in international relations at the School of Politics and International Studies, University of Edinburgh. 

Neve Gordon is a professor of human rights law at Queen Mary University of London and the vice president of the British Society for Middle East Studies. He is the author of Israel’s Occupation (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008). Perugini and Gordon coauthored The Human Right to Dominate (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015) and Human Shields: A History of People in the Line of Fire (Oakland: University of California Press, 2020).