Related Rule
Israel
Practice Relating to Rule 15. The Principle of Precautions in Attack
Israel’s Manual on the Laws of War (1998) states that there is an “obligation to refrain from harming civilians insofar as possible”. 
Israel, Laws of War in the Battlefield, Manual, Military Advocate General Headquarters, Military School, 1998, p. 42.
Israel’s Manual on the Rules of Warfare (2006) states that there is a “duty to refrain from attacking civilians as far as possible”. 
Israel, Rules of Warfare on the Battlefield, Military Advocate-General’s Corps Command, IDF School of Military Law, Second Edition, 2006, p. 29.
The Manual on the Rules of Warfare (2006) is a second edition of the Manual on the Laws of War (1998).
In 2008, in a background paper on Israel’s operations in Gaza, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated:
In practice, two key questions arise in relation to the legitimacy of the planning … of an operation: 1) Is the target itself a legitimate military objective? and 2) Even if the target is in itself legitimate, is there likely to be disproportionate injury and damage to the civilian population and civilian property. 
Israel, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Background paper, Responding to Hamas Attacks from Gaza: Issues of Proportionality, December 2008, § 1.
In July 2010, in a second update of its July 2009 report on Israeli operations in Gaza between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated:
150. The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] has adopted important new written procedures and doctrine designed to enhance the protection of civilians in urban warfare, including by further emphasizing that the protection of civilians is an integral part of a commander’s mission. In addition, the procedures require increased attention to civilian matters in operational planning. Although protection of civilians during military operations has long been part of IDF training and doctrine, the new procedures mandate additional comprehensive protection. These revised procedures stem from general understandings and lessons learned both in Gaza and other military operations conducted by Israel in recent years.
151. The new procedures and doctrine also specify steps to better insulate the civilian population from combat operations and to limit unnecessary damage to civilian property and infrastructure, and require integration of civilian interests into the planning of combat operations. This involves advance research into and the precise identification and marking of existing infrastructure, including that pertaining to water, food and power supplies, sewage, health services, educational institutions, religious sites, economic sites, factories, stores, communications and media, and other sensitive sites as well as cultural institutions.
152. Furthermore, the new written procedures mandate the planning for a number of additional provisions aimed at safeguarding the civilian population. This includes: safe havens for civilians to take refuge; evacuation routes for civilians to safely escape combat areas; medical treatment for civilians; methods for effectively communicating with and instructing the population; and provisions for humanitarian access during curfews, closures and limitations on movement. Finally, the new written procedures require the assignment of a Humanitarian Affairs Officer integrated in each combat unit beginning at the battalion level and up, with responsibilities for advising the commanding officer and educating the soldiers with regard to: the protection of civilians; civilian property and infrastructure; the planning of humanitarian assistance; the coordination of humanitarian movement; and the documentation of humanitarian safeguards employed by the IDF.
153. While the majority of these issues were already addressed in various operational orders and guidelines in existence prior to the Gaza Operation, the new revised procedures are important because they are comprehensive and applicable to all stages of military operations, including the crucial stage of planning. 
Israel, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Gaza Operation Investigations: Second Update, 19 July 2010, §§ 150–153.
[footnote in original omitted]
While the core challenges in the protection of civilians identified in the previous reports of the Secretary-General still need our sustained attention, the new report also identifies several protection policy priorities that need to be explored. In particular the following “emerging” issues would benefit from our attention, and the Group of Friends stands ready to act as a platform to advance them. …
… [O]n the issue of lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS), the Group is of the view that further discussions are needed and it welcomes the fact that the issue will be examined in Geneva in May 2014, in the framework of the CCW [Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons]. The Group hopes that such discussions will also examine the issue with due consideration to the protection of civilians as part of a comprehensive debate including legal, military operational, technological and ethical perspectives. In time discussion should focus on the relevance of such systems to the protection of civilians, in particular in the context of IHL and with regard to the principles of distinction, precaution and proportionality. 
Italy, Statement by the permanent representative of Switzerland during a UN Security Council open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict made on behalf of the Group of Friends on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, namely Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Uruguay, 12 February 2014, p. 2.
While the core challenges in the protection of civilians identified in the previous reports of the Secretary-General still need our sustained attention, the new report also identifies several protection policy priorities that need to be explored. In particular the following “emerging” issues would benefit from our attention, and the Group of Friends stands ready to act as a platform to advance them. …
… [O]n the issue of lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS), the Group is of the view that further discussions are needed and it welcomes the fact that the issue will be examined in Geneva in May 2014, in the framework of the CCW [Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons]. The Group hopes that such discussions will also examine the issue with due consideration to the protection of civilians as part of a comprehensive debate including legal, military operational, technological and ethical perspectives. In time discussion should focus on the relevance of such systems to the protection of civilians, in particular in the context of IHL and with regard to the principles of distinction, precaution and proportionality. 
Japan, Statement by the permanent representative of Switzerland during a UN Security Council open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict made on behalf of the Group of Friends on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, namely Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Uruguay, 12 February 2014, p. 2.
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:
- The means of attack should be planned in such a way as to prevent or at least minimise casualties among the civilian population. 
Israel, Rules of Warfare on the Battlefield, Military Advocate-General’s Corps Command, IDF School of Military Law, Second Edition, 2006, pp. 27–28.
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 the Public Committee against Torture in Israel case in 2006, Israel’s High Court of Justice stated:
Customary international law regarding armed conflicts protects “civilians” from harm as a result of the hostilities … From that follows also the duty to do everything possible to minimize collateral damage to the civilian population during the attacks on “combatants” (see Eyal Benvenisti, Human Dignity in Combat: the Duty to Spare Enemy Civilians, 39 ISRAEL LAW REVIEW 81 (2006). 
Israel, High Court of Justice, Public Committee against Torture in Israel case, Judgment, 14 December 2006, § 26.
In a briefing in 1982, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared that Israeli forces had taken all precautions to concentrate military operations against only “terrorist” targets to diminish incidental loss of civilian life. In the same briefing, Israeli officials stated that their forces had taken all necessary and possible precautions to protect individual civilians, the civilian population and civilian objects from the danger of military operations. 
Israel, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Department of Information, Briefing No. 342/18.7.82/3.10.108, 18 July 1982.
The Report on the Practice of Israel states: “During the pre-attack planning phases, the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] incorporates all feasible precautions to ensure, as far as possible, that incidental civilian loss, injury or damage is minimized”. 
Report on the Practice of Israel, 1997, Chapter 1.6.
In 2006, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated:
In practice Israel does not adopt the position … that civilians in the vicinity of a military objective must “share the danger”, but rather takes significant efforts to avoid or minimize civilian casualties. Any such operation is considered on an individual basis in order to ensure that it meets the test of proportionality. Frequently this means the rejection of proposed military operations when the likelihood of collateral damage to civilians and their property is considered too high. On other occasions, it means that operations are conducted in such a way as to reduce the likelihood of incidental damage, in terms of the timing or operational aspects of the attack. 
Israel, Responding to Hizbullah Attacks from Lebanon: Issues of Proportionality, Legal Background, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel, 25 July 2006, § 4.
In 2007, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated in a diplomatic note:
… it should be noted that even when civilians were in the vicinity of military objectives, Israel made significant efforts to avoid, and in any event to minimize, civilian casualties. Every operation was considered on an individual basis to ensure that it met the requirements of international law, including the test of proportionality. Frequently, this meant the rejection of proposed military operations when the likelihood of collateral damage to civilians and their property was considered too high. On other occasions, it meant that operations were conducted in such a way as to reduce the likelihood of incidental damage, in terms of the timing or operational aspects of the attack. 
Israel, Israel’s War with Hizbullah. Preserving Humanitarian Principles While Combating Terrorism, Diplomatic Notes No. 1, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel, April 2007, pp. 14.
In 2008, in a background paper on Israel’s operations in Gaza, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated:
[I]n accordance with the established principles of international law, Israel seeks to avoid or minimize civilian casualties. Each operation and target is considered on an individual basis in order to ensure that it meets the tests of distinction and proportionality. Frequently this means the rejection of proposed military operations when the likelihood of collateral damage to civilians and their property is considered too high. 
Israel, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Background paper, Responding to Hamas Attacks from Gaza: Issues of Proportionality, December 2008, § 4.
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 document [operational order] further confirmed the importance of minimising incidental harm to civilians and civilian facilities. The operational order provided that … “any attack on a legitimate target was to be planned to minimise collateral harm to civilians and civilian objectives, including by the determination of: the attack timing, the means of attack, the direction of attack, etc.” 
Israel, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Operation in Gaza 27 December 2008–18 January 2009: Factual and Legal Aspects, 29 July 2009, § 225.
The report further stated|:
Even where a target was authorised in advance, the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] examined proportionality again immediately prior to the attack on the basis of real time data available to the person executing the attack. Thus, for example, when a pilot approaching a target identified the potential for disproportionate collateral damage, he or she would refrain from attacking the target or even – when possible – would divert a missile already fired, as occurred occasionally during the Gaza Operation. These rules of engagement applied fully during the Gaza Operation. 
Israel, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Operation in Gaza 27 December 2008–18 January 2009: Factual and Legal Aspects, 29 July 2009, § 252.
[footnote in original omitted]
In July 2010, in a second update of its July 2009 report on Israeli operations in Gaza between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated:
IDF [Israel Defense Forces] orders include the obligation to take all feasible precautions in order to minimize the incidental loss of civilian life or property, such as by adjusting the timing of an attack, the means of attack, and the direction of attack, as well as aborting attacks under certain circumstances. 
Israel, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Gaza Operation Investigations: Second Update, 19 July 2010, § 58.
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: “In assessing the adequacy of precautions [in attack], under the provisions of [the 1977] Additional Protocol I, the measure is one of ‘feasibility’, not perfection.” 
Israel, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Operation in Gaza 27 December 2008–18 January 2009: Factual and Legal Aspects, 29 July 2009, § 133.
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:
For attacks planned in advance, the IDF’s [Israel Defense Forces’] efforts to implement the principles of distinction and proportionality began at the initial planning stage, where each operation and target was considered on an individual basis in order to ensure that it met the requirements of distinction, proportionality and precautions in attack. Targeting decisions which were planned in advance were reviewed by several IDF authorities, including MAG [Military Advocate General’s Corps] officers. The decision-making process involved an in-depth analysis of all relevant considerations, which was based upon the available intelligence, including the operational needs, the anticipated damage to property and sensitive sites, the anticipated harm to civilians, and so on. Whenever possible, the IDF verified the accuracy of the information on the target by cross-checking updated and independent intelligence sources. In this process, the IDF disapproved some, approved others only under certain conditions, such as the time of the attack, the type of weapons used (in order to achieve the military goal while reducing collateral damage), or required precautions prior to attack. On numerous occasions the process resulted in rejection of proposed military operations, where, for example, the available intelligence regarding the proposed target was not sufficiently reliable or up-to-date, or where the likelihood of collateral damage to civilians and their property was considered excessive in relation to the military advantage anticipated. 
Israel, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Operation in Gaza 27 December 2008–18 January 2009: Factual and Legal Aspects, 29 July 2009, § 251.