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June 11, 2015 12:33 pm

Legal Experts: Israel Did Too Much to Warn Civilians During Gaza War

avatar by Steven Emerson

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IDF soldiers pictured in Gaza in July, during Operation Protective Edge. Photo: Israel Defense Forces.

IDF soldiers pictured in Gaza last July, during Operation Protective Edge. Photo: Israel Defense Forces.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) went too far past what is required to avoid civilian casualties in warfare, some international legal experts have said. This is according to an Israel National News report.

The criticism comes in an article to be published Monday by the Weekly Standard. In it, Vanderbilt University adjunct law Professor Willy Stern reviews Israel’s actions after spending two weeks with the IDF’s international law department. The IDF made thousands of phone calls, dropped leaflets, and broadcast TV and radio messages urging Gaza civilians to flee an area before Israel would strike structures used by Hamas for military purposes.

“It was abundantly clear that IDF commanders had gone beyond any mandates that international law requires to avoid civilian casualties,” Stern writes. Its foes in Hamas went the opposite direction, urging terrorists to stay close to civilians, according to a manual that Israeli troops found in a Gaza neighborhood.

“Hamas’s playbook calls for helping to kill its own civilians, while the IDF’s playbook goes to extreme​ – ​some say inappropriate​ – ​lengths to protect innocent life in war,” Stern’s article will say.

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Other legal experts featured in the upcoming Weekly Standard article expressed concern that Israel’s exhaustive warnings create “an unreasonable precedent” for other democracies fighting terrorist groups.

“The IDF’s warnings certainly go beyond what the law requires, but they also sometimes go beyond what would be operational good sense elsewhere,” said Michael Schmitt, director of the Stockton Center for the Study for International Law at the U.S. Naval War College.

Steven Emerson is the Executive Director the Investigative Project on Terrorism (www.investigativeproject.org) where this article first appeared.

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