Proportionality and Civilian Casualties in Asymmetrical Armed Conflicts: An Interdisciplinary Approach

Israel Democracy Institute (4 Pinsker Street)
Co-sponsored with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.

Schedule of Events

Monday, May 30, 2016
9:00 - 9:30 Registration

9:30 – 10:00 Greetings
Yohanan Plesner, IDI President
Dr. Michael Borchard, Head of the KAS Office in Israel

9:45 – 10:30 Keynote Address - Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon
10:30 – 12:00 Opening Session - Normative, Philosophical and Religious Background
Moderator: Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer

The opening panel will deliver four lectures providing participants with background for the two days of the conference, Followed by a roundtable session.

  • Proportionality in Israeli law 
  • Proportionality in current German law 
  • Religious sources of proportionality
  • The philosophical justification for proportionality

12:10 – 13:40 Morality and Reciprocity in Proportionality Analysis
Moderator: Prof. Daniel Statman

  • Is there a moral gauge between protecting civilian lives vs. the attainment of military objectives? 
  • When targeting a terrorist, what weight do we give the imminence and certainty of an impending attack?
  • How do we balance between possible civilian casualties from a targeted killing and civilian deaths from a planned terror attack?

13:40 – 14:15 Lunch break

14:15 – 15:45 The Lives of Soldiers vs. the Lives of Civilians
Moderator: Ms. Idit Shafran Gittleman

  • What risks to the lives of its soldiers should an attacking army take to protect civilians, and should there be a special rule in "force protection" operations? 
  • Is there a difference in this context between low intensity armed conflict and large scale fighting?

16:00 – 17:30 The Scope of Proportionality: Strategic Considerations and Cultural Sensitivities
Moderator: Dr. Ziv Bohrer

  • In proportionality analysis, is the attacking army allowed to consider broad strategic goals, or is it limited to tactical ones?
  • May an attacking army consider cultural differences, such as a societal aversion to the capture of its soldiers or a non-state organization's commitment to revenge?

Tuesday, 31 May, 2016
9:00 - 9:30 Registration

9:30 – 11:00 The Ambiguous Definition of "Concrete Military Advantage"
Moderator: Admiral Amichay (Ami) Ayalon

  • What does "concrete military advantage" mean in an asymmetrical conflict? 
  • Does the military possess a viable definition of concrete military advantage in asymmetrical conflicts?

11:10 – 12:40 Proportionality as Procedure
Moderator: Prof. Amichai Cohen

  • What procedures can be adopted in conflict situations to prevent civilian casualties?
  • How much operational intelligence must an army have before launching an attack that may result in civilian deaths, and how much effort must be made to verify the information? 
  • At what military level should the decision to proceed with such an attack be made?

12:40 – 13:20 Lunch break

13:20 – 14:50 The Practice of Proportionality Decisions in the Context of War: Empirical Evidence and Insiders' Perspectives
Moderator: Dr. Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan

  • What considerations must decision makers take into account, and do these considerations vary from country to country?

14:50 – 16:00 Conclusion and farewell