The Israel Defense Force (IDF) went too far beyond what is required to avoid civilian casualties in asymmetric conflict during last summer's Gaza war, some international legal experts say, 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, a manual that Israeli troops found in a Gaza neighborhood shows.
"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.
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.