Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar.

From a military perspective, Hamas’ attack on Israel on Oct. 7 was a remarkable achievement. As a strategic move, however, the attack may jeopardize much of what Hamas has achieved in its almost 40 years of existence. That raises the question of whether this attack was a miscalculation, or whether there was something more to it.

Photographs of Israeli hostages being held by Hamas militants.

The atrocities accompanying the Israel-Hamas conflict have led many observers to ask if it makes sense to speak about the laws of war when armed actors seem only too willing to ignore them. But to say that the laws of war are ineffective is to misunderstand how they are meant to work—and do work—even when they seem to be ignored.

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