War Crimes, Genocide, and Crimes Against Humanity, Explained 

Friends and family pay their respects at the joint funerals of Dana and Carmel Becher, a mother and son who were killed during the Hamas attack of October 7 on Kibbutz Be'eri. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Almost immediately after Hamas’ October 7 incursion into Israel, in which its terrorists killed more than 1,400 people and took more than 200 hostages—including children and elderly—it faces accusations of war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity. 

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, for example, said in an October 19 letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Hamas’ actions went beyond terrorism, but included “the full range of atrocity crimes under international law.”

Accusations of any of these crimes carry hefty legal and moral implications—beyond geopolitical polemics—and unfounded accusations damage the causes of real victims of atrocity. 

How are war crimes defined?

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