Politicians, trial lawyers and drafters of reports learn early on that framing an argument is central to the task of persuasion. And so it goes for the report by the U.N. Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry (COI) on the border confrontation that occurred last spring between Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and the tens of thousands of Gaza residents who sought to force their way into Israel by breaching the security barrier.
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“No plan survives first contact with the enemy.” This axiom informs compliance with the law of armed conflict (LOAC) in combined arms maneuver: combat operations involving ground forces employing a range of capabilities to achieve an overarching “commander’s intent.” Ground maneuver combat is decentralized and dynamic, especially when dealing with an agile and adaptable enemy. LOAC’s application will often turn on factors such as available capabilities, the enemy’s strength and tactics, time for deliberation, and the speed of maneuver.
Israel’s Military Advocate General Terminates ‘Black Friday’ and Other Investigations: Initial Observations
Since 2014, the IDF has been conducting investigations into incidents that took place in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge (July-August 2014) and raised concerns about Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) compliance with Israeli law and international law of armed conflict. In the course of the investigation, the office of the Military Advocate General (MAG)—Israel’s chief military legal officer—has reviewed some 360 incidents, referring 24 of them for criminal investigation. These have led so far to the conviction of three soldiers for the crime of looting.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court of Israel dismissed a petition against the rules of engagement governing use of force by the Israeli security forces in the violent clashes in Gaza (HCJ 3003/18 Yesh Din v. IDF Chief of General Staff). The clashes began on March 30, 2018, around mass Palestinian protests held in various points along the fence separating the Gaza Strip from Israel.
Alongside its longstanding security challenges, the state of Israel has also been grappling in recent years with an intense controversy over the service of women in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on Order from Chaos.
New Clashes in Syria as Israel Hits Iranian Targets, U.S. Troops Attacked by Regime
Israel is still roiling over Benjamin Netanyahu’s sudden replacement of Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, a former general, with Avigdor Lieberman, a politician with no serious military experience and an unmistakeable illiberal streak. The sudden change was motivated by coalition politics, but it also teaches important lessons—about ethics in combat and the role of a military in a free society.
Yesterday found me in Israel listening—not for the first time—to a briefing on Israel Defense Forces (IDF) targeting practices during Operation Protective Edge, the 2014 military operation against Hamas in Gaza. I can’t go into the details on the briefing, as it was not on the record, but for those interested in a detailed account of the subject, Section VI of this report from the Israeli Foreign Ministry covers some of the same ground.