A Legal and Operational Assessment of Israel's Targeting Practices

(Just Security-New York University School of Law) Michael Schmitt and John Merriam - Shortly after the conclusion of the 2014 Gaza war, the IDF invited us to Israel to examine its targeting practices and application of the law of armed conflict (LOAC). Israeli targeting practices and positions on the LOAC are broadly within the mainstream of contemporary state practice. Israel's chief antagonists (Hamas in Gaza and Hizbullah in Lebanon) possess vast quantities of rockets that they regularly launch at Israeli population centers throughout the entire country. The destruction of rockets and rocket-launching infrastructure (often in the form of civilian houses converted to military use in order to deter Israeli attack) has a high degree of "anticipated military advantage," such that it may justify (from the IDF's standpoint) levels of collateral damage that may strike outside observers as potentially excessive. Broadly speaking, we concluded that IDF positions on targeting law largely track those of the U.S. military. The IDF is served by a corps of highly competent and well-trained legal advisors who operate with a remarkable degree of autonomy, and its operations are subject to extensive judicial monitoring. We found that their approach to targeting is consistent with the law and, in many cases, worthy of emulation. Michael Schmitt is Professor of International Law and Director of the Stockton Center for the Study of International Law at the U.S. Naval War College. John Merriam is a U.S. Army Judge Advocate currently serving as Associate Director of the Stockton Center.

2015-04-28 00:00:00

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