Practice Relating to Rule 80. Booby-Traps
Israel’s Manual on the Laws of War (1998) states: “Within the framework of the [1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons], it was decided to prohibit the exposure of the civilian population to booby traps and booby-trapped objects.” It adds:
The Protocol enumerates the objects and places where booby-trapping is severely and absolutely forbidden:
1. Innocent-looking objects (transistors, televisions)
2. Objects bearing international protection signs (a cross, crescent or red Magen David, U.N. emblems, etc.) or tied to them
3. Wounded, sick or dead, as well as interment or cremation sites. The booby trapping of the wounded or dead conflicts with the duty prescribed by the laws of war to administer treatment to the wounded and to see to the proper interment of the dead. Therefore, it was also prohibited to abuse the special treatment accorded them.
4. Hospitals, clinics, medical equipment, medical transports
5. Objects connected with children (toys, clothes, food, care utensils etc.)
6. Food, drink, eating utensils (except for eating utensils and preparation equipment in army facilities)
7. Objects connected with religious ritual
8. Historical sites, objets d’art or ritual articles, constituting the cultural or religious heritage of a people
9. Animals and their carcasses
In any event, the laws of war ban the use of a booby-trap designed to cause needless damage and suffering (also in cases where it is permitted to use booby-traps against combatants).
Israel’s Manual on the Rules of Warfare (2006) states:
Booby traps. These include devices that explode when touched, and they were used extensively during the Vietnam war. Booby traps are not prohibited for use against combatants but they contain elements that are in opposition to the principles of the rules of warfare, such as the fact that it is impossible to direct them to a defined target. It has therefore been decided in the context of the CCW Convention [1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons] to prevent the exposure of the civilian population to booby-traps. The protocol lists items and places that are strictly prohibited from being booby-trapped:
- innocent-looking devices (transistor radios, televisions)
- devices bearing international defence symbols (the red cross, crescent or star of David, the UN symbol, etc.) or those connected therewith
- the wounded, sick or dead, burial sites or crematoria. The booby-trapping of the wounded or corpses conflicts with the existing duty under the rules of warfare to offer treatment to the wounded and provide suitable burial for the dead (see below), and there is a ban on exploiting the duty to treat them with special care
- hospitals, clinics, medical equipment, medical vehicles
- devices connected with children (toys, clothes, food, childcare items, etc.)
- food and drink (with the exception of equipment for preparing food at military establishments)
- items connected with religious ritual
- historic sites and art or ritual objects that constitute the cultural or religious heritage of a people
- animals and their carcasses
In every case, the rules of warfare forbid the use of an explosive booby-trap for the purpose of causing unnecessary damage and suffering (even in cases in which the use of booby-traps against combatants is permitted).
The manual further states that “[i]t is prohibited to use booby-traps designed to harm the civilian population”.
The Manual on the Rules of Warfare (2006) is a second edition of the Manual on the Laws of War (1998).
Upon accession to the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, Israel stated:
With reference to the scope of application defined in article 1 of the Convention, the Government of the State of Israel will apply the provisions of the Convention and those annexed Protocols to which Israel has agreed [I, II and III] to become bound to all armed conflicts involving regular forces of States referred to in article 2 common to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, as well as to all armed conflicts referred to in article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949.