This most recent wave of rocket attacks on Israeli population centers serve as a reminder that asymmetric warfare poses a fundamental challenge to Israel’s national security, international standing, and democratic character. For a democracy like Israel, finding a way to defeat terrorist organizations within the bounds of the rule of law is essential for three reasons:
First, no independent government can tolerate a threat that sends masses of its citizens to the shelters at a moment’s notice; second, no society can long remain free if it continually sacrifices its liberties on the altar of national security; and third, no democracy can maintain its standing among the family of enlightened nations if it does not adhere to the international norms of armed conflict.
Twelve years ago, in the midst of a deadly wave of suicide attacks, the leadership of IDI established the National Security and Democracy Program. Born out of a dialogue with the leadership of the Israel Defense Forces, this flagship program seeks to help Israeli decision makers develop effective counterterrorism policies that strike a balance between national security, civil liberties and the rule of law.
To help concerned parties in Israel and around the world understand the legal aspects of this extraordinary conflict, the leaders of IDI’s National Security and Democracy Program have put together a legal brief outlining the basic legal concepts involved and the boundaries of permissible action according to standard interpretations of existing international law.
The authors of this brief are internationally recognized experts on the legal aspects of asymmetric warfare and counterterrorism. They offer an analysis, rooted in international law, of the practical challenges facing Israel in Gaza. They assess Israeli practices and underscore the need to balance between national security considerations and the fundamental obligation of every government to protect the lives of their citizens on the one hand, and considerations of human rights, the rule of law, and the obligation to minimize the risk to Palestinian civilians on the other. These scholars are available for consultation and interviews upon request.
With wishes for security and peace from Jerusalem,
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