Practice Relating to Rule 139. Respect for International Humanitarian Law
Section B. Orders and instructions to ensure respect for international humanitarian law
Israel’s Manual on the Rules of Warfare (2006) states: “Officers are required to know the rules of warfare and to endeavour to adapt them and apply them to conditions of engagement.”
The manual further states:
The rules of warfare are binding upon every soldier in the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] … Headquarters Order 33.0133 (valid from 20/7/1982) requires an IDF soldier to behave according to the directives contained in the Fourth Geneva Convention. For every campaign order that is liable to develop into a situation to which the Geneva Convention might be applicable, and for any campaign order prior to an operation being conducted close to a site of cultural heritage protected under the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, these directives will be specified to the soldiers. Copies of the Conventions can be found in all of the IDF’s registration offices.
In addition, the manual states:
The Military Jurisdiction Law defines various offences that constitute a breach of the rules of war. Both General Headquarters orders and the code of conduct require IDF soldiers to comply with the rules of warfare that have been recognised by Israel. Many countries publish a “Guide to the Rules of Warfare” – a collection of guidelines for soldiers covering their conduct in the battlefield.
The Manual on the Rules of Warfare (2006) is a second edition of the Manual on the Laws of War (1998).
In its judgment in Physicians for Human Rights v. Commander of the IDF Forces in the West Bank in 2002, Israel’s High Court of Justice stated:
The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] shall once again instruct the combat forces, down to the level of the lone soldier in the field, of this commitment by our forces based on law and morality – and, according to the state, even on utilitarian considerations – through concrete instructions which will prevent, to the extent possible, and even in severe situations, incidents which are inconsistent with the rules of humanitarian law.
An Israeli Chief of Staff Order of 1982 refers to the 1949 Geneva Conventions and states: “IDF [Israel Defense Force] soldiers are obliged to conduct themselves in accordance with the directives contained in the above[-mentioned Geneva] Conventions.”
The Order also refers to the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property and states: “IDF soldiers are obliged to observe the directives of the said [1954 Hague] Convention, as well as the Regulations and attendant Protocols.”
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 IDF’s [Israel Defense Forces’] emphasis on compliance with the Law of Armed Conflict was also directly incorporated into the rules of engagement for the Gaza Operation. The operational order for the Operation in Gaza specifically stated that “[a]ll IDF activities are subject to the principles and rules of international law.” These rules and principles were further detailed in the order, which emphasised four guiding principles that applied in an integrated and cumulative manner: military necessity, distinction, proportionality and humanity.