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Historic ruling by the Supreme Court

by Yonoz
Tags: targeted killing, terrorist
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Dec14-06, 03:40 AM
P: 248
High Court: International law does not forbid targeted killings
"In its fight against international terrorism, Israel must act according to the rules of international law," the court said. "We must balance security needs and human rights. Not every efficient means is also legal. The ends do not justify the means."

According to the ruling, terrorist operatives are not legally defined as combatants and therefore must be considered civilians. The court rejected the state's argument that international law currently recognizes a third category comprising "unlawful combatants."

Nonetheless, the court ruled that civilians involved in terror activities are not afforded the same protections granted to innocent civilians under international law.

"A civilian, in order to enjoy the protections afforded to him by international law during an armed conflict, must refrain from taking a direct part in the hostilities," said the court. "A civilian that violates this principle ... is subject to the risks of attack like those to which a combatant is subject, without enjoying the rights of a combatant, e.g. those granted to a prisoner of war."

The court established four primary criteria that must be met in order for a targeted killing to be justified.

First, "well based, strong and convincing information" regarding the individual's terrorist activities.

Second, "a civilian taking a direct part in hostilities cannot be attacked if a less harmful means can be employed."

Third, an independent, thorough investigation must be conducted after the attack to determine "the precision of the identification of the target and the circumstances of the [targeted killing]."

Fourth, every effort must be made to minimize harm to innocent civilians.

The court also ruled that, since a targeted killing is essentially an attack on a civilian that is engaged in hostile activities, the attack is only justified if carried out against a civilian currently involved in terrorism. Therefore the IDF cannot target former terror operatives who have distanced themselves from terror activity.
This is a historic ruling not only because of the precedent it sets but also because it is former Supreme Court President Barak's final ruling.
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