It’s a mantra, but unlike many, it’s one that seems irrefutable. But does Israel have a right to self-defense against a people it occupies?
International law differentiates between obligations for protection of civilians under a state’s control–which means, essentially, policing and civil defense obligations–and self-defense rights, which has a military connotation. The latter is what Israel regularly invokes, and it is illegal.
This seems counter-intuitive, but this article explains it in simple language. Israel has an obligation, not just a right, to protect everyone under its control, and that applies to citizens as well as people under its occupation. It does not have the right to use overwhelming military force against a civilian population that has the right to resist, including with arms, a belligerent occupation. More here at Mondoweiss.