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October 13, 2015 / 30 Tishri, 5776
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IDF Strikes on ‘Militarized’ Gazan Homes is Permissible in War

When houses are used for military purposes, they are legitimate military targets under international law.
Hamas terrorists usually fired rockets at Israeli towns from civilian areas in Gaza.

Hamas terrorists usually fired rockets at Israeli towns from civilian areas in Gaza.
Photo Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit / IDF Blog

On July 8, the IDF initiated Operation Protective Edge in order to restore security to Israel’s civilian population under constant rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. During the operation, the IDF has struck a number of houses throughout Gaza that were being used for military purposes.

It is essential that those observing and commenting on the military conflict between Israel and Hamas understand that according to the most widely recognized corpus of law governing military conflicts, the use by Hamas of human shields and the placement of their fighters and weapons in residential areas is a flagrant violation of international law.

Hamas conducts its military activities from deep within residential areas in Gaza. By doing so, it exploits the IDF’s desire and efforts to avoid harm to Palestinian Arab civilians. In many cases, Hamas uses its commanders’ own homes, where their families and other civilians may be residing, for military purposes.

Some of these houses are used for weapons storage, command and control centers, or communications.

Watch in this video when after the IDF’s initial strike on a target in a residential area, the explosion is followed by massive secondary blasts. Those “after blasts” reveal that the terrorists in Gaza had stored a large cache of weapons right next to homes of ordinary Gazan civilians.

When houses are used for military purposes, they become legitimate military targets under international law.

The IDF aims its attacks against legitimate military targets as defined under the relevant rules of international law.

For example, Article 58 of the Fourth Geneva Convention requires that combatants “endeavour to remove the civilian population, individual civilians and civilian objects under their control from the vicinity of military objects” and “avoid locating military objectives within or near densely populated areas.”

And Article 51 provides even more authority proving the terrorists in Gaza are the ones in this conflict who are violating international law, not the Israel Defense Force:

The presence or movements of the civilian population or individual civilians shall not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations, in particular in attempts to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield, favour or impede military operations. The Parties to the conflict shall not direct the movement of the civilian population or individual civilians in order to attempt to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield military operations.

While neither Israel or Hamas are signatories to the Geneva Conventions, that has never stopped Israel’s critics from excoriating the Jewish State for its alleged violations of that military and legal set of rules.

In order to accurately determine military targets, the IDF employs advanced methods, including multiple levels of intelligence, the provision of legal advice, and extensive prior training provided to operational commanders.

Even when a house is considered a lawful military target, the IDF makes great efforts to minimize potential harm to the surrounding civilian population. For example, the IDF may use real-time visual coverage in order to assess the civilian presence at a target. The IDF also carefully chooses weaponry and ammunition that will help to minimize any harm to civilians. In certain instances, the IDF also provides advance warning before striking a target.

Many of the IDF’s efforts in this regard go beyond its legal obligations and the accepted practice of other militaries operating in urban areas. Hamas, however, exploits these humanitarian attempts by the IDF to provide advance warning by using civilians as human shields in order to deter attacks.

Furthermore, IDF commanders routinely abort strikes when they determine that the collateral damage from an attack would be excessive in relation to the military advantage anticipated. This is never a consideration for Hamas, which shoots its weapons indiscriminately at all and any part of Israel no matter what might be hit.

About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the U.S. correspondent for The Jewish Press. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email: Lori@JewishPressOnline.com

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8 Responses to “IDF Strikes on ‘Militarized’ Gazan Homes is Permissible in War”

  1. They fire rockets from residential areas, even homes, and wonder why these get bombed.

  2. God is great, but Hamas is going to get their neighbors killed –for nothing.

  3. God is great, but Hamas is going to get their neighbors killed –for nothing.

  4. Gene Strong says:

    Destroy Gaza
    Flatten everything..

  5. Then why can’t you turn off their Power and gas supply?

  6. Uzi Kattan says:

    So wipe them out already!! They were targets by Jewish law!!’

Comments are closed.

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