The IDF Military Advocate-General’s Office is instituting a course on
international law for field commanders.
The course is meant to
familiarize commanders with international law pertaining to combat and the
limitations it imposes on operations, particularly in urban settings such as
those in the Gaza Strip or Lebanon.
The course will be mandatory for
those undergoing training to become company, battalion and brigade
“It is important that commanders know the principles and what
makes a civilian building like a mosque become a legitimate target, once it
stops functioning as a mosque and becomes a place where rockets are fired from
into Israel,” explained a senior officer who serves in the Military
The officer said that while he hoped the
course would reduce the chance that Israel will be accused of war crimes and
crimes against humanity – as it was in the Goldstone Report following Operation
Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip in 2009 – he did not believe that would be the
Earlier this month, a senior officer in the IDF’s Northern Command
warned that the Goldstone Report “will pale” in comparison to the results of a
future war with Hezbollah in Lebanon. The officer said such a war would be
devastating for Lebanon due to Hezbollah’s decision to deploy its military
forces and capabilities within towns and villages throughout the
“I cannot guarantee that there will not be another Goldstone
Report, but we can try to minimize the criticism by doing the best we can,” the
“This will also help us defend against criticism after such
Military Advocate-General Brig.-Gen. Danny Efroni took up
his post last year and has focused on completing the integration of legal
officers in the operational levels within the military.
Now, for example,
legal officers play a key role in approving targets before operations including
target banks for Israel’s various fronts in Lebanon and Gaza.
involved in all stages of operational planning,” the officer said, adding that
legal officers would be present in command posts during conflicts to assist
brigade and division commanders in determining the legitimacy of attacking