ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 149

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Proportionality under international law isn’t based off numbers alone, says senior US official

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

Palestinians evacuate a wounded woman in Khan Younis refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023. (AP/Mohammed Dahman)
Palestinians evacuate a wounded woman in Khan Younis refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023. (AP/Mohammed Dahman)

US Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Finer acknowledges during an appearance at the Aspen Security Forum that there have been instances in which the IDF directed Gazans to flee to areas where it ultimately conducted strikes.

He indicates that these cases are ones of “targets of opportunity” when an attack is approved with little planning after unexpected intelligence is discovered at the last minute.

“When that’s one thing happens, we raise it directly with the government of Israel,” he says while stressing the importance of Israel establishing clearly communicated deconfliction mechanisms.

Finer is then asked whether the IDF stated two-to-one ratio of civilians to combatants killed in Gaza is sufficient for the US.

“International law on… the concept of proportionality is not spelled out in terms of absolute formula,” he responds.

“It’s not, this or that ratio means you’re either above the line or below the line. We’re less focused on that calculus, which is a bit ineffable, and more focused on when issues arise that we raise our concerns…I think we’ve had some success with that,” Finer adds.

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