More than a month has elapsed since the commencement of the conflict in Gaza. As international support wanes, numerous questions continue to surface regarding the ongoing fighting. These questions encompass the ethical dimensions of warfare, such as the permissibility of targeting hospitals that harbor terrorists, the principles of proportionality when causing harm to non-involved individuals, and Israel's stance concerning the International Court. In a document published by the Kohelet Forum, researchers delve into these pressing issues, shedding light on the intricate relationship between the Gaza War and international law.
Addressing these concerns are the distinguished researchers of the Kohelet Forum, Adv. David Petar and Adv. Avraham Shalu. Their comprehensive document offers insights into the prevailing debates in both Israel and the global arena regarding the legality of actions taken during the Gaza War. Contrary to some assertions in public discourse, the Kohelet researchers contend that causing harm to non-involved civilians, despite the inherent human tragedy, is a harsh reality of warfare and not inherently prohibited under international law. They stress that such actions are permissible if there is a military objective that justifies them, a principle known as "proportionality."
מלחמת "חרבות ברזל" ומשפט בינלאומי— פורום קהלת Kohelet (@KoheletForum) November 14, 2023
האם מותר לתקוף בתי-חולים?
מתי פגיעה בבלתי-מעורבים מידתית ומוצדקת?
מה לגבי סיוע הומניטרי?
כיצד נהגו בפועל מדינות המערב בשעת לחימה?
ואילו חובות מוטלות על מדינות העולם בזמן המלחמה בעזה?
על כל זאת ועוד במסמך חדש מאת עו"ד דוד פטר ועו"ד אברהם של"ו pic.twitter.com/QekbzNZdNY
"While it is incumbent upon a country to take every reasonable measure to minimize collateral damage when targeting military objectives," they assert in the document, "the unfortunate truth is that warfare inevitably results in collateral damage. The presence of non-involved casualties does not constitute a violation of international law but rather underscores the grim reality of war. Regrettably, war is sometimes a necessity imposed on nations to safeguard the peace and security of their citizens and borders."
The document highlights that Israel is in compliance with international law by making earnest efforts to spare non-involved individuals from harm. "Under international law, all parties to a conflict have an obligation to differentiate between non-involved civilians and combatants," it states. "Deliberately harming enemy civilians is a clear breach of the laws of war. Therefore, Israel took measures such as urging Gazan citizens to relocate to the southern Gaza Strip before the ground invasion and issuing advance warnings of airstrikes whenever feasible from a military standpoint. By doing so, Israel fulfilled its obligations in line with the requirements of international law."
The south of Gaza destroyed last night by Israeli air strikes. These are the areas people have been told to evacuate to.— Howard Beckett (@BeckettUnite) November 9, 2023
There are no safe zones in Gaza, only killing fields.
The Hague has no legitimacy if it fails to step in.
The researchers further emphasize that "Article 23 of the Fourth Geneva Convention stipulates that the obligation to allow humanitarian aid is contingent on the shipment reaching its intended destination without the enemy gaining any military or economic advantage from it." On October 16, UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees) reported that Hamas terrorists had stolen fuel and medical supplies. There were also reports of Hamas hoarding fuel at a time when hospitals were experiencing shortages, and incidents of Hamas members forcibly taking humanitarian supplies meant for civilians. Given Hamas's control over the Gaza Strip, any aid provided would undoubtedly benefit the group's ongoing hostilities against Israel. Consequently, Israel is not bound by international law to facilitate the provision of such aid to the Gaza Strip.