Thinkers with as different a view of the world as Sigmund Freud and Mikhail Bakunin have been struck by the fact that the role of the state is to assert a monopoly on crime. Individuals get medals, promotions, and honors by committing the same acts for the state for which they would be hanged or imprisoned in any other circumstances. […] The very meaning of sovereignty which states guard so jealously is the magical power to decide what is or is not a crime.
When Israel asserts its “right to defend itself,” what it really means to assert is its right to define its crimes as not crimes. Of course, international law and one’s moral sense may come to different conclusions (see here and here).