Israel complied with international law in Gaza’s war against Hamas – JINSA

The IDF complied with the law on armed conflict and “constantly implemented precautions to mitigate civilian risk” during the Gaza War on May 10-21, a Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) said in a report published on Monday. Thursday.

Furthermore, the report found that despite allegations by human rights groups that Israel violated international law, some Israeli precautions actually exceeded “those implemented in recent US combat operations in which we participated, despite facing a adversary who often sought to deliberately exacerbate that risk. ” ”The report said.

The authors included about a dozen senior and retired US military officers who traveled to Israel to examine the actions of both sides, and included: Lieutenant General. Robert Ashley, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lieutenant General. John M. Bednarek, former senior defense official in Iraq, Lt. Col. Geoffrey S. Corn, former chief international attorney for the US Army in Europe and others.

Although the report found that the IDF’s conduct of the war complied with international law, it also found “a significant gap between this reality of the IDF LOAC [Law of Armed Conflict] compliance, and the violation of Hamas, and public perception. Israel’s courier efforts were unable to bridge this gap. “

If the IDF was primarily focused on degrading Hamas’s strike capabilities, the Gaza terror group was similarly investing resources in a massive disinformation campaign to delegitimize Israel along with firing rockets at Israeli civilians.

IRON DOME interceptors destroy rockets fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel in the skies over Ashkelon in May. (credit: AMIR COHEN / REUTERS)

Comparing the Israeli experience to the potential future challenges the United States may face, the report says: “The ability of an unscrupulous adversary to restrict military operations or even gain a strategic advantage against a much more capable opponent through the use of shields human rights and misinformation about both the facts and the law are a particularly troubling harbinger of what the United States could face soon. “

JINSA said that the United States “will have to dispute such conflicts in an emphatic and preventive manner, both in the information domain and in the physical domain. The US military must be trained to operate in significantly more complex environments than Gaza, just as densely populated by civilians, but further afield, with more limited intelligence, no air dominance and a controversial electromagnetic spectrum, while remaining compromised. with compliance with the LOAC “.

At the same time, the report said, “the US military must also be lucid in setting realistic expectations of what that compliance will look like in such operations; it may not be feasible to take the same extraordinary but costly precautions that Israel employed in Gaza. “

“Investments, along with partners like Israel, in new technologies to counter enemy forward capabilities and mitigate risk to civilians will be critical,” he continued.

More specifically, the report said, “The IDF has robust processes in place to ensure legal investigation of proposed targets, specific method of attack, and potential incidental injuries and collateral damage. Its operations adhered to the LOAC’s mandate to implement all feasible precautionary measures to mitigate the risk to the civilian population of Gaza ”.

“Numerous brochures were released, phone calls were made to residents and text messages were sent to warn civilians in Gaza to leave a defined area of ​​operations before the airstrikes,” the report says.

JINSA stated that, “minutes before the actual attack, small munitions launched a ‘blow to the roof’ to provide additional warning of the impending attack, a tactic first used in 2014 and therefore familiar to the civilian population” .

In addition, “multiple surveillance platforms were dedicated to each target, often for hours, to ensure that civilians evacuated the attack areas. These impressive precautions often came at an operational and tactical cost for the IDF, allowing belligerents to escape, diminishing the tactical advantage of surprise and reducing the number of other targets that could be monitored or attacked, ”he said.

The report then noted that the May war was the “first artificial intelligence (AI) war” in which the IDF employed “AI and machine learning algorithms, along with intelligence analysts in ‘man-machine teams’ to mark and review potential targets … which were significantly more detailed, precise and timely than in 2014. “

The report accepted Israeli estimates that of 264 Palestinians killed, 37% were combatants and another 15% were believed to be combatants, noting that no civilians were killed in precision strikes on 20 high-rise towers.

In addition, the report said that “the IDF used thousands of PGMs (precision guided missiles) produced by Israel and the United States, including small laser guided bombs (SLGB), small diameter GBU-39 / B bombs (SDB) and ammunition Joint direct attack (JDAM) tail kits that convert unguided air-to-ground munitions into PGMs. With these weapons, the IDF could apply its precise and timely intelligence regarding the location of targets ”to limit civilian casualties.

Tracing the disinformation campaign against the IDF, the report said the problem started with: “The misunderstanding by the media and the public about how the LOAC applies to military operations, especially the false assumption that the effect of an attack, and especially the presence of civilian victims, determine its legality. “

“Coupled with the ability of social media to transmit graphic images quickly and globally without explanatory context,” the report said Hamas made “the public more receptive to Hamas’ misinformation that Gaza’s suffering was evidence. violations of the LOAC by Israel. “

Numerous organizations, including the United Nations, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch – organizations claiming to be experts on the relationship between the law and military operations – quickly appeared to accept Hamas’ claims about illegal IDF operations.

JINSA accused these groups of misinterpreting or mischaracterizing the principle of distinction “in the sense that military targets cannot be legal targets as long as they are placed in civilian areas. Meanwhile, the principle of proportionality appears to be interpreted as presenting a quantitative (but unspecified) threshold of civilian casualties or destruction of civilian property above which an attack violates the LOAC. Neither of these interpretations is correct. “

Furthermore, the report blamed Israel for only using the IDF spokesperson who provides narrow details on specific operations and as its primary microphone to the world rather than using the Foreign Ministry to educate the world on the larger context.

“By themselves, without context or explanation, these events were insufficient to align the public perception of the legitimacy of the IDF operations with the reality of its compliance with the LOAC,” JINSA said.

Furthermore, the report noted that Israel’s effectiveness in explaining its narrative was further reduced by delays and several major missteps, including the late justification for the IDF attack on the al-Jalaa building that houses the media. international events in Gaza, as well as the perception that the IDF intentionally lied to the media about launching ground operations in Gaza. “

Furthermore, the report stated, “We find a persistent resignation among military and civilian leaders in Israel that no improvement in their messages can overcome the rush for condemnation that seems to be reserved only for Israel among all nations … But our review also indicates that even if the messages efforts have marginal impact, handing over information dominance to the enemy is an unacceptable response. “

“To improve communications with the international media, organizations and the public, the military must seek more effective ways to rapidly provide more detailed information to the public,” the report said.

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