Think tank assesses legality of Israel’s actions

The Israel Democracy Institute releases a report assessing the legal limitations of Israel’s military actions in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge, focusing on target selection, proportionality, and the obligation of warning civilians prior to attack.

Noting at the outset that Hamas’s action over the past nine days – firing indiscriminately at civilians and hiding among them – “constitute war crimes,” the authors state that the report, nonetheless, examines “the restrictions incumbent on the State of Israel” and not the violations perpetrated by Hamas.

“The most basic principle of the law of war,” the authors write, “is the principle of distinction” – between civilian and military targets.

Israel, in this asymmetrical conflict, may strike any civilian target so long as it is also being used for military purposes and complies with the principles of proportionality, they state.

The duty of advance warning, the authors write, is not obviated by the fact that Hamas does not allow civilians to leave the area.

— Mitch Ginsburg 

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