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Monday, November 19, 2012
Operation Pillar of Defense: Legal points

Operation Pillar of Defense: Legal points

Israel Ministry of Foreign Affair 19 Nov 2012
http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/About+the+Ministry/Behind+the+Headlines/Operation_Pillar_of_Defense_Legal_points.htm

Israel has the right under international law, and a moral obligation, to act
in self-defense, to defend its population and to protect its territory when
under attack, as well as to take military action against the terrorist
attacks from the Gaza Strip.

The legal justification for the operation

Hamas and other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip have been waging
an ongoing armed conflict against Israel, which has included incessant
barrages of rockets and mortars towards the Israeli civilian population and
other terror activities.

Israel has the right under international law, and a moral obligation, to act
in self-defense, to defend its population and to protect its territory when
under attack, as well as to take military action against the terrorist
attacks from the Gaza Strip.

Violations of international law on the part of the Hamas and the other
terror organizations

Hamas' actions are in clear violation of the most fundamental principles of
international law, including the principle of distinction, which requires
Hamas and other terrorist organizations not only to refrain from directing
its attacks at Israeli civilians, but also to clearly distinguish itself
from its own civilian population.

These terrorist organizations consciously and deliberately violate these
principles in a repeated manner, by deploying weapons and command centers in
densely populated areas, operating from residential areas, and exploiting
the civilian population by exposing them to serious harm. By doing so, Hamas
and the terror organizations in the Gaza Strip are committing war crimes.

The commitment of the State of Israel and the IDF to international law

Israel and the IDF are fully committed to international law in general, and
to the Laws of Armed Conflict in particular.

Israeli commanders and soldiers are guided by international law in their
actions. The IDF strives to imbue the principles of international law in IDF
training, the IDF Code of Ethics and rules of engagement.

The IDF receives ongoing legal advice on a wide range of operational issues
at various levels of the command chain (for example, regarding targeting
decisions, the use of weaponry and issues regarding humanitarian efforts
towards the civilian population).

The legality of the IDF's attacks

IDF attacks in the Gaza Strip are solely targeted against military targets
and terrorist operatives. Civilian objects such as residential buildings may
constitute legitimate targets if used by terrorist operatives for military
purposes.

The IDF makes great efforts to minimize the incidental harm that may be
caused to civilians or civilian objects as a result of an attack on a
military target. For example:

Munitions to be used in an attack are carefully chosen, often using
precision guided missiles in pinpoint surgical strikes to minimize the risk
of incidental civilian harm.

The IDF uses advanced and precise intelligence regarding target
identification and employs various means for monitoring the presence of
civilians in areas of operation as well as for aborting attacks if it
appears that civilians are at risk.

Where circumstances permit, effective advance warning is given prior to
attacks which may place the civilian population at risk.

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