National Implementation of IHL
The Public Committee against Torture in Israel et al. v. The Government of Israel et al., Supreme Court of Israel, 14 December 2006
Supreme Court of Israel
Supreme Court of Israel, (Accessed May 11, 2007)

On 14 December 2006, the Supreme Court of Israel, sitting as the High Court of Justice, issued a decision in which it assessed the legality, under international law, of the Israeli Government's policy of "targeted killings," employed against members of Palestinian terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

The court's first finding was that a continuous situation of armed conflict exists between Israel and various Palestinian terrorist organizations, and that when an armed conflict is taking place in an occupied territory, it is subject to the law of international armed conflict. The court then considered whether the terrorists and their organizations were to be defined as combatants or civilians. It cited the rule of customary international law, according to which civilians are legally protected against being attacked only when they are not taking a direct part in hostilities. The court concluded that it was necessary to obtain well-founded and verifiable information about civilians allegedly taking part in hostilities before attacking them. It ruled also that civilians taking a direct part in hostilities may not be physically attacked if less harmful means could be employed against them, such as arrest, interrogation, and trial. The court also held that any "targeted killing" had to comply with the customary principle of proportionality, and that an independent investigation should be undertaken, after each attack, to ascertain whether proportionality and targeting norms had been respected. Based on the results of such an investigation, it might be appropriate to compensate innocent civilians who have been harmed. The court concluded that it could not determine in advance whether "targeted killings" were permitted under international law. The lawfulness of such killings, according to the court, was to be determined according to the particular circumstances of each case. Hence, in the case at hand, the demand of the petitioners that Israel completely refrain from applying a policy of "targeted killing" was denied.

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application/pdf 300 KB Israel - Public Committee against Torture et al. v. Government of Israel, Supreme Court, 2006 [eng].pdf