Practice Relating to Rule 24. Removal of Civilians and Civilian Objects from the Vicinity of Military Objectives
Israel’s Manual on the Laws of War (1998) states: “One should try and remove the civilian population from military targets.”
Israel’s Manual on the Rules of Warfare (2006) states:
The rules of war have laid down a number of rules of engagement in a theatre of war containing civilians:
- An attempt should be made to move the civilian population away from military targets by distributing leaflets, issuing warnings through loudspeakers, giving sufficient notice of an attack, etc, unless there are overriding, compelling military needs (immediate attack, surprise attack).
The manual further states: “Civilians must be removed from military targets so that they will not be harmed.”
The Manual on the Rules of Warfare (2006) is a second edition of the Manual on the Laws of War (1998).
In 2009, in a report on Israeli operations in Gaza between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009 (the “Gaza Operation”, also known as “Operation Cast Lead”), Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated:
The parties in control of the territory where the hostilities take place also have obligations under the Law of Armed Conflict to minimise civilian harm, including with regard to their own population. Thus, the parties to the conflict “shall, to the maximum extent feasible, take the other necessary precautions to protect the civilian population, individual civilians and civilian objects under their control against the dangers resulting from military operations.” [1977 Additional Protocol I, Article 58(c)] This means … [that] in anticipation of hostilities, they must “endeavour to remove
the civilian population, individual civilians and civilian objects under their control from the vicinity of military objectives.” [1977 Additional Protocol I, Article 58(a)] To do the opposite – to … encourage civilians to gather in areas that are likely military targets – violates the Law of Armed Conflict, because such tactics inevitably increase civilian casualties beyond what otherwise might occur in connection with an attack on a legitimate military target.
[emphasis in original; footnote in original omitted]