Practice Relating to Rule 19. Control during the Execution of Attacks
The Report on the Practice of Israel states: “In principle, the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] will endeavour to suspend or cancel an attack if it becomes apparent that the objective is not of a military nature or will result in excessive incidental loss of civilian life.”
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:
253. Certain attacks could not be planned in advance, but became imperative in real time during combat … [C]ommanders in the field are expected to carefully assess both the expected military gain and the potential of collateral injury to civilians and civilian property in the area. In making this determination, the commander considers numerous factors. In assessing military advantage, for example, the commander will take into account the degree and immediacy of the threat posed by the target to the safety and security of Israeli civilians; the contribution of the target’s destruction towards the accomplishment of the mission; and the threat to IDF [Israel Defense Forces] personnel. In assessing possible collateral damage, the commander will consider the number of civilians near the target; whether they are exposed or protected; the expected radius of the strike’s lethal effects; and whether or not the attack can be delayed or carried out effectively with a more precise or less powerful weapon in the prevailing circumstances.
256. … [T]he IDF employed various means for monitoring the presence of civilians in areas of operation, where possible, including aerial surveillance, before conducting aerial attacks. The IDF aborted or postponed attacks on Hamas personnel and targets when it appeared that civilians were at risk, at the expense of attaining military advantage. In fact, the IDF has released video footage conclusively demonstrating the diversion of missiles during the Gaza Operation.
[footnote in original omitted]