Practice Relating to Rule 51. Public and Private Property in Occupied Territory
Section B. Immovable public property in occupied territory
Israel’s IDF General Staff Order No. 50.0303 of 1977 states:
1. In this Order:
Occupied Territory – Territory outside the borders of State of Israel that was in enemy hands and passed to IDF [Israel Defense Forces] control.
Area Commander – Territory for which the IDF appointed a military governor – the Military Governor. Territory for which no Military Governor was appointed – the Commander of the division whose forces are holding or securing said territory.
Seizure of property – taking over the property, including right of ownership.
Possession of property – taking over administration of property, including using it and benefiting from its produce, without having full ownership.
Land – Land of any kind and any form of possession, buildings, trees or anything else connected to the ground, such as orchards or railroads.
Movable property – Any property that is not land.
Abandoned property – Privately owned land or movable property, whose owner is unknown or had left the occupied area before the occupation or because of it.
2. This Order defines the powers of the military authorities regarding enemy property located in occupied territory. This Order does not relate to enemy property on the battlefield. That subject is detailed in General Staff Order 50.0301.
3. To remove all doubt, it should be clear that the provisions of this Order also apply to the police force, when operating under the command of the army owing to call up for reserve duty, or for a military or other type of mission.
4. No land or movable property in occupied territory may be seized or possessed or used without the consent of the owner unless it is necessary for the purposes of war and if allowed by the provisions of this Order.
5. When exercising his powers as per this Order, the Area Commander will take into account the needs of the civilian population of the occupied territory, and will ensure the availability of a supply of food and medical supplies.
6. The Area Commander will not exercise his powers as per this Order, except after consultation with the highest Quartermaster level in the occupied territory (representative of the General Staff-Logistic Branch, or of the command or division Quartermaster. If there is no such representative – the Formation Maintenance Officer, whose forces are in the area or are securing it).
7. In the event of doubt about the status of the property, the military legal adviser of the governing forces must be consulted before exercising powers, as per this Order, and if the governing headquarters are not yet established, with the appropriate Command Advocate.
8. No negotiations will be held with a civilian third party over compensation for property that has been seized or possessed or made use of as per this Order and no confirmations or statements will be offered to any civilian third party, except in accordance with the provisions of this Order.
9. All Commanders must ensure that their subordinates act as follows:
a. They will not commit acts of looting.
b. They will comply with the provisions of this Order and not abuse the powers it grants.
c. They shall not misuse the property covered by this Order.
10. This Order does not detract from what is stated in General Staff Order 33.0133 (Discipline – behavior in accordance with international treaties to which the State of Israel is party), rather supplements it.
11. General Staff – Logistics Branch may appoint a Commander of the Logistic Command or any other position with regard to occupied territory and grant him power to seize and take possession and give instructions regarding use of property, as specified in this command.
12. If a unit has seized land as per this Order, it will report immediately to the appropriate Command Lands Officer who will inform the Building Center and the General Staff-Logistic Branch. The latter will notify those concerned whether or not it had approved the seizure of the land.
13. The provisions of this Order shall deal with four types of property:
a. State-owned lands
b. Privately owned lands
c. State-owned movable property
d. Privately owned movable property
14. For the purpose of this Order, the movable property and lands will be considered state-owned also if owned by a corporation, where the state has shares granting it control over it or its assets or if it has the right to administer it.
15. Once the territory has been occupied, possession of land owned by the enemy whose territory has been occupied is transferred to the IDF, and the IDF is responsible for the administration and maintenance of the lands. The right to ownership of the land remains, however, in the hands of the enemy state.
16. As soon as possible after taking office, the Military Governor will conduct a list of lands under the ownership of the occupied state, indicating their nature, place and condition, and will send the list to the Lands Officer of the appropriate Command, who will coordinate the lists and hand them over to the General Staff-Logistic Branch. If it is not necessary or practical to register all the lands of the occupied state, the General Staff-Logistic Branch can order certain types of lands not included in the mentioned list.
17. The General Staff-Logistic Branch will instruct each Lands Commander about the modes of handling the lands owned by the enemy state.
18. The Area Commander may permit the IDF forces in the area temporary use of lands as mentioned above, for storage, storing or hospitalization or for operational purposes. Any other use of the land as mentioned above requires the approval of General Staff-Logistic Branch.
a. The provisions of this paragraph do not apply to lands in the occupied area that belong to institutions dedicated to religion, charity, education, art, science or hospitalization, even if the land is owned by the state (such as churches, mosques, schools, homes for disabled and hospitals) as well as local authorities’ lands.
b. For the purpose of this Order, all assets listed in this paragraph shall be considered private property: i.e. possession of this property is not automatically transferred to the IDF and they should be treated as stated in paragraphs 20 to 25 below.
c. Such lands must be especially protected from any damage.
Obligations regarding enemy property
38. Whoever has acquired seized property, which is held or given for temporary use as per this Order, must take all measures to prevent breakage, damage or loss of the a/m property.
39. Destruction of property as mentioned above or use that compromises its integrity, are permitted only if military necessity so requires.