Practice Relating to Rule 4. Definition of Armed Forces
Section B. Incorporation of paramilitary or armed law enforcement agencies into armed forces
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:
Whereas members of a civilian police force that is solely
a civilian police force, who have no combat function are not considered combatants under the Law of Armed Conflict, international law recognises that this principle does not apply where police are part of the armed forces of a party. In those circumstances, they may constitute a legitimate military target. In other words, the status of the Palestinian “police” under the Law of Armed Conflict depends on whether they fulfilled combat functions in the course of the armed conflict. The evidence thus far is compelling that they are.
[footnote in original omitted; emphasis in original]