Israel in Lebanon
The Report of the International
Commission to enquire into reported
violations of International Law by
Israel during its invasion of the Lebanon
The conduct of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) in its acts of violence and destruction are assessed, under international law, by reference to the military necessity of its actions. Thus Hague Convention IV of 1907 prohibits destruction of enemy property unless ‘imperatively demanded by the necessities of war’ (Art. 23(g)). Hague Convention IX on Naval Bombardment 1907 allows for bombardment of “Military works, military or naval establishments, depots of arms or war material, workshops or plant which could be utili sed for the needs of the hostile fleet or army, and the ships of war in the harbour’ (Art. 2). The Hague Rules of Aerial Warfare 1923 prohibit aerial bombardment to destroy property ‘not of military character’ or to injure non-combatants (Art. 22), but declares such bombardment ‘legitimate only when directed at a military objective, that is to say, an object of which the destruction or injury would constitute a distinct military advantage to the belligerent’ (Art. 24(1)). Even ‘In the immediate neighbourhood of the operations of land forces, the bombardment of cities, towns, villages, dwellings or buildings is legitimate provided that there exists a reasonable presumption that the military concentration is sufficiently important to justify such bombardment, having regard to the danger thus caused to the civilian population’ (Art. 24(4)). The ICRC Draft Rules 1956 allow for destruction confined to ‘military resources’ (Art. 1), and attacks directed against’ military objectives’, i.e. those ‘generally acknowledged to be of military importance’; however, this must ‘in the circumstances ruling at the time’ offer a ‘military advantage’ (Art. 7). The Institute of International Law, Edinburgh, 1969 ‘considered as military objectives only those which, by their very nature or purpose or use, make an effective contribution to military action, or exhibit a generally recognised military significance, such that their total or partial destruction in the actual circumstances gives a substantial, specific and immediate military advantage to those who are in a position to destroy them’ (Art. 2).
The Geneva Convention IV (Civilians) 1949 prohibits destruction of property ‘except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations’ (Art. 53). Finally, Protocol I Additional to Geneva Conventions 1977 provides: ‘Attacks shall be limited strictly to military objectives. Insofar as objects are concerned, military objectives are limited to those objects which by their nature, location, purpose or use make an effective contribution to military action and whose total or partial destruction, capture or neutralisation, in the circumstances ruling at the time, offers a definite military advantage’ (Art. 52(2