Jun. 15, 2015
Ex-Generals: IDF’s “Scrupulous Adherence” to Laws of War Cost Israeli Lives (Friends of Israel Initiative-UN Watch)
- A multinational group of senior officers, including the former Chiefs of Staff of Germany, Italy and Spain, visited Israel on May 18-22, 2015, for a fact-finding mission on the 2014 Gaza conflict. While Israel made repeated efforts to terminate the fighting, the war that it was eventually compelled to fight was a legitimate war, necessary to defend its citizens and its territory against sustained attack from beyond its borders.
- None of us is aware of any army that takes such extensive measures as did the IDF last summer to protect the lives of the Palestinian civilian population. In some cases, the IDF declined to attack known military targets due to the presence of civilians, risking, and in some instances costing, Israeli lives. We believe that in general Israeli forces acted proportionately as required by the laws of armed conflict and often went beyond the required legal principles.
- The measures Israel took to reduce the suffering of the civilian population in Gaza were often far in excess of the requirements of the Geneva Conventions and they sometimes placed Israeli lives at risk. To an extent these steps also undermined the effectiveness of the IDF’s operations by pausing military action and thus allowing Hamas to re-group and replenish. Supplies provided to the civilian population by Israel were often commandeered by Hamas for military use.
- Hamas and its terrorist associates, as the aggressors and the users of human shields, are responsible for the overwhelming majority of deaths in Gaza this summer. Israel not only met a reasonable international standard of observance of the laws of armed conflict, but in many cases significantly exceeded that standard. In some cases Israel’s scrupulous adherence to the laws of war cost Israeli soldiers’ and civilians’ lives.