Le Monde Op-Ed: “Hamas Should be Tried for Crimes Against Humanity”

Below is the English translation of the full article published by ELNET-Israel Board Member Sarah Fainberg:

A terrorist organization claiming affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood and supported by Iran, Hamas has never been legally held accountable for its actions by the international community. However, since its establishment in 1987, the list of its crimes is long: terrorist attacks, the use of Palestinian civilians as human shields, the storage of military equipment under hospitals and schools, indiscriminate rocket attacks, torture of Palestinians. This list is confirmed by the United Nations.

Presented as a national liberation movement, Hamas has benefited from the indulgence of a Western world struggling with a binary thought pattern, or rather its vulgar Foucauldian version, serving as a reading grid for the world as it is. In this pattern, Hamas – less conventionally powerful than Israel – is seen as the weak one.

Imprisoned in these structures, the progressive analytical matrix is blind to the violence of the “weak” – no matter how unspeakably cruel it may be towards defenseless civilians. This “progressive” left simply no longer has the concepts to see them. To the point of reversing the victimhood narrative, casting opprobrium on a community, and at the deliberate risk of inciting pogroms in France. On October 7th, following the implacable logic of the Holocaust by bullets, Hamas massacred babies, children, women, the elderly, and men simply because they were born Jewish.

The weaker side always seems to have all the excuses, even when it is equipped with an impressive arsenal of rockets, missiles, armed drones, and oppresses two million Palestinians living in Gaza. This tacit indulgence is deeply rooted in a traditional perception of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict within supposedly progressive circles. But aren’t those unaccountability and disempowerment of Hamas precisely a form of post-colonial condescension towards the Palestinian people?

The time has come to change the paradigm. After the largest terrorist attack in the history of humanity, given the size of the country and the number of inhabitants (we have never seen a deadly attack executed by more than 1,500 terrorists against civilians in a matter of hours), we must face the facts: the crimes of Hamas cannot be considered a mere “overflow”  of violence in the name of an otherwise just cause, but rather the revelation of its true nature, that of an organization whose raison d’être is genocidal acts against the Jewish population of the State of Israel, nurturing the illusion of “throwing all Jews into the sea” since its charter in 1988. The destructive hubris of these “theocratic fascists”, in the words of American columnist Thomas Friedman.

However, on October 7th, Hamas committed acts constituting crimes against Humanity. First, they orchestrated a methodical and chilling pogrom, employing tactics reminiscent of the Einsatzgruppen, the Bataclan terrorists, and the Russian soldiers in Bucha. Like the Einsatzgruppen, the “fighters for the liberation of Palestine” became mobile extermination squads. They swept through villages, patrolled neighborhoods, entered every house, chasing – and then massacring – the inhabitants by setting them on fire. Like Daesh, they looted, humiliated, raped, and beheaded their victims. Massacres of babies and children are documented. We do not know of any contemporary national liberation movements whose preferred modus operandi is pogroms against infants. They burned alive men and women. And how can we describe the exhibition of a young Jewish woman, stripped, abused, and displayed as a trophy on an Islamist horde’s jeep? 199 hostages, civilians and soldiers, including the elderly, children, and babies – like 4-year-old Ariel or 6-months-old Kfir – were captured and moved within the Gaza territory. These massacres were deliberately staged on social media, with the “TikTok pogrom” becoming the Hamas trademark.

These methods were combined with Hamas’ usual tactic: indiscriminate fire intended to saturate the Israeli air defense system and cause maximum civilian casualties. This time, the volume and intensity of the fire increased. The provisional human toll is inconceivable, with more than 1,400 deaths and 3,800 injured, including many seriously wounded, in just 72 hours.

There is also documented use of Palestinian civilians as human shields. Since October 7th and the kidnapping of hostages, Palestinian and Israeli civilians have shared a tragic destiny: both are brandished as human shields. Weapons caches are hidden under hospitals, and Hamas has vowed to respond with the murder of a hostage for every Israeli strike.

We assert that the deliberate and systematic killing of Israeli Jewish civilians, combined with numerous acts of barbarity, carried out as part of a concerted and premeditated long-standing plan, constitutes a crime against Humanity. We urge the French government, which has so far reacted with clarity and firmness to these events, not to perceive these acts as just another terrorist act, but as a massacre of unprecedented scale, qualifying as a crime against humanity. The French Penal Code defines and punishes crimes against humanity (Article 212-1) as the execution of a concerted plan against a civilian population within the framework of a generalized or systematic attack.

On October 12, 2023, we filed a complaint for crimes against Humanity on behalf of some French victims (nineteen French citizens were killed, and thirteen are missing, including hostages in Gaza such as the 21-year-old French-Israeli citizen Mia Shem) in the bloody attacks carried out by Hamas in Israel, especially against the legal entity Hamas and the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades. After the time of bewilderment and compassion, the time for judgment and justice must come.


ELNET-Israel Board Member, Sarah Fainberg and David Reinharc



Arié Bensemhoun is the CEO of ELNET France.

Guy Bensoussan is the president of the Jewish community of Lille and the president of cultural affairs for the Central Consistory of France.

Cathy Bensoussan is a journalist.

Pascal Bruckner is a philosopher and novelist.

Alex Buchinger is a lawyer.

Yves De Chaisemartin is a former President of Marianne and Le Figaro.

Hassen Chalghoumi is the President of the Conference of Imams in France.

Christian Charriere-Bournazel is a former Bar Association President, and the President of the National Bar Council.

Judith Cohen Solal is a psychoanalyst and writer.

Najwa El Haïté is a lawyer.

Raphaël Enthoven is an essayist.

Sarah Fainberg is an expert in defense and security, a research director at Tel Aviv University, and a Board Member of ELNET.

Alain Finkielkraut is a member of the French Academy, is a philosopher and essayist.

Jonathan Hayoun is film director and writer.

Eva Illouz is Director of Research at EHESS in Paris.

Alain Jakubowicz is a lawyer.

Raphaël Jérusalmy is a former lieutenant colonel in Israeli military intelligence, writer, and defense analyst.

Élie Korchia is a lawyer and the president of the Central Consistory of France.

Haïm Korsia is the Chief Rabbi of France and a member of the Institute.

Dominique Lanzmann is a nutritionist and the legal heir to the entirety of Claude Lanzmann’s work, to whom she was married.

Samuel Lejoyeux is President of the UEJF, France’s main Jewish students’ union.

Marc Levy is a lawyer.

Rachel Lindon is a lawyer at the Paris Bar and the International Criminal Court.

Patrick Maisonneuve is a lawyer.

François Margolin is a director, producer, and screenwriter. He notably directed “Salafistes” in 2016.

Nathanaël Majster is a lawyer and former magistrate.

Delphine Meillet is a lawyer.

Jean-Jacques Moscovitz is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst.

Emmanuel Navon is the CEO of ELNET Israel.

Michel Onfray is a writer and philosopher.

Richard Prasquier is a cardiologist, honorary president of the CRIF and Keren Hayessod, and president of the French Committee for Yad Vashem.

David Reinharc is a publisher.

Daphné Richemond-Barak is a professor of international law at Reichman University.

Simone Rodan-Benzaquen is the director of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) Europe.

Boualem Sansal is a writer.

Yaël Scemama is a lawyer.

Agnes Serero is a lawyer.

Anne-Sophie Sebban-Becache is the director of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) Paris.

Ilana Soskin is a lawyer at the Paris Bar and a lawyer at the International Criminal Court.

Mario Stasi is a lawyer and the president of LICRA (International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism).

Eva Touboul is a lawyer.

Manuel Valls is a former Prime Minister.

Frédéric Wizmane is a lawyer.

François Zimeray is a lawyer, diplomat, and human rights advocate.