Adonis Diaries

Main Principles of International Humanitarian Law

Posted on: September 2, 2014

Main Principles of International Humanitarian Law

“The principles of International Humanitarian Law:

1. The principle of distinction, which distinguishes between combatants and
civilians and strictly prohibits targeting the latter.

2. The principle of proportionality, which requires that all possible effort must be taken to prevent harm to civilians or civilian objects when attacking a legitimate military target and that the incidental damage caused to non involved civilians must not be greater to the concrete and direct military advantage achieved.

The Israeli High Court of Justice provided a good example of what is allowed and prohibited when it addressed this issue: “Take the usual case of a combatant, or of a terrorist sniper shooting at soldiers or civilians from his porch. Shooting at him is proportional even if as a result, an innocent civilian neighbour or passer-by is harmed. That is not the case if the building is bombed from the air and scores of its residents and passersby are harmed.”

It is true that these principles have been violated countless times by regular armies, militias and guerrilla forces since these conventions were ratified.

However, according to the decision quoted above, neither the violations in other conflicts nor those carried out by Hamas can justify Israeli violations.”

See More

The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) believes that torture and ill-treatmment

of any kind, under any circumstances, is incompatible with moral values, democratiic

standards, and the rule of law.

PCATI was founded in 1990 in response to government

policy that enabled systematic use of torture and ill-treatment during GSS interrogations.

In September 1999, following petitions filed by PCATI and other human rights organizattions,

the High Court of Justice ruled to prohibit some interrogation methods that had

been employed at the time and which clearly constituted torture and ill treatment.

This ruling was a significant advance, although it left an opening for the use of torture and

ill-treatment in Israel. PCATI works towards the protection of detainees’ and prisoners’

rights, and the implementation of an absolute prohibition against torture.

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September 2014

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