WASHINGTON – Israel did
not violate the rules of war during its recent Gaza operation,
a new US study says, while praising the IDF's "impressive improvements" since the war against Hizbullah in 2006.
Israel "deliberately used decisive force to enhance regional deterrence and demonstrate that it had restored its military edge," wrote Anthony H. Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "These, however, are legitimate military objectives in spite of their very real humanitarian costs."
Hamas not bound by laws of war (Photo: Reuters)
The study notes that "political efforts to manipulate the "rules of war and humanitarian considerations have become a key weapon in asymmetric warfare, and are often used as a basis for propaganda and gaining political leverage in this type of conflict."
"Real suffering is translated into exaggerated charges and numbers that cannot be validated by reliable data or methodology," the study says. "In practice, even if Israel had agreed to all of the conventions involved, they are severely limited and often difficult or impossible to apply to the realities of war — even one fought with restraint and a focus on military targets."
Cordesman notes that "Some buildings like schools merit special consideration, but only require review to determine whether they are really military targets. Hospitals require warning but are not protected if used by an enemy."
"White phosphorous can be used against military but not civilian targets," he adds, noting that "such laws and conventions do not bind or restrain non-state actors like Hamas in any meaningful way."
"The end result is a situation where one side can potentially be limited by international law where the other is not, and that effectively makes international law a potential weapon for the side that rejects and exploits it," the study says. "It is also a situation that empowers and incentivizes extremists to use civilians as the equivalent of human shields by embedding their forces in civilian populations and areas, and using sensitive buildings like mosques and schools or collocating near them. There is nothing new about such tactics."