Hastings International and Comparative Law Review


Sage R. Knauft


Transnational terrorism, politically motivated violence that crosses national boundaries, is a tangible threat to world peace and stability. Terrorists, often acting with the support of other states, have managed to organize themselves into transnational networks capable of striking almost any target in the world. Against this backdrop, Israel and the United States, two high profile targets of terrorist activity, have forwarded a justification for forcible state responses to these attacks. This argument, largely condemned by the international community, equates state-supported terrorist attacks with "armed attacks" which trigger a state's right to forcible self-defense under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.

This Note posits that there is a justification for forcible self-defense under the Charter in the form of necessary and proportionate counterterror operations. The proposed guidelines are designed to assist the reader in determining whether a given response is justified under international law. Finally, a number of Israeli and U.S. counterterror operations are analyzed under the guidelines with the goal of distinguishing those responses which meet the international standards from those that do not.