Practice Relating to Rule 53. Starvation as a Method of Warfare
Israel’s Manual on the Laws of War (1998) states that conducting a scorched earth policy “with a view to inflicting starvation or suffering on the civilian population … is forbidden”.
Israel’s Manual on the Rules of Warfare (2006) states:
War must not be waged by means of a “scorched earth” policy, that is to say intentional attack on food products, farmland, sanitation facilities etc., at such a level as would lead to the starvation of the civilian population.
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 Eichmann case
in 1961, the District Court of Jerusalem held that starvation caused serious bodily or mental harm and, therefore, amounted to a violation of Israel’s Crime of Genocide (Prevention and Punishment) Law.
In its judgment in the Albasyouni case in 2008, concerning a petition regarding the Israeli Government’s decision to reduce or limit the supply of fuel and electricity to the Gaza Strip, Israel’s High Court of Justice stated:
13. … Finally, the Respondents referred in their brief also to Article 54 of the First Protocol [1977 Additional Protocol I], which prohibits the starvation of a civilian population as a means of warfare …
22. … [T]he State of Israel is required to act against the terrorist organizations within the framework of the law and in accordance with the dictates of international law, and to refrain from deliberately harming the civilian population located in the Gaza Strip.
According to the Report on the Practice of Israel, “the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] does not condone or practice starvation of the civilian population as a method of warfare”.