Practice Relating to Rule 1. The Principle of Distinction between Civilians and Combatants
Section B. Attacks against combatants
Israel’s Manual on the Laws of War (1998) states: “Any soldier (male or female!) in the enemy’s army is a legitimate military target for attack, whether on the battlefield or outside of it.”
Israel’s Manual on the Rules of Warfare (2006) states: “The fundamental rule is that war should be conducted between armies and each army should only attack the army of the enemy.”
The manual further states: “Every soldier (including women soldiers!) in the enemy’s army is a legitimate military target to be attacked on and away from 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 the Public Committee against Torture in Israel case
in 2006, Israel’s High Court of Justice stated: “In general, combatants and military objectives are legitimate targets for military attack. Their lives and bodies are endangered by the combat. They can be killed and wounded.”
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 that “by definition, the principle of distinction does not forbid the targeting of combatants”.
[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: “The principle of distinction is a core element of IDF [Israel Defense Forces] standing orders. All IDF soldiers are instructed that strikes are to be directed only against … combatants”.
In 2010, in a position paper submitted to the Public Commission to Examine the Maritime Incident of 31 May 2010 (Turkel Commission), established by the Israeli Government to examine the Gaza flotilla incident, Israel’s Military Advocate General stated:
[T]he law of armed conflict is based, inter alia
, upon the fundamental principles of distinction and proportionality. According to the first principle, a person who belongs to the armed forces of the opposing side constitutes a legitimate target for attack, and therefore he can be attacked intentionally and directly, in order to kill him or wound him, and thus take him out of the “cycle of combat.”