Maj. Gen. Danny Efroni, the IDF military advocate-general.
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
The army’s “Hannibal Protocol” for thwarting the capture of its personnel “does not allow for the use of live fire to bring about the abducted soldier’s death,” Military Advocate-General Maj. Gen. Danny Efroni said at a conference in Ramat Gan on Tuesday.
The three-day conference at the Kfar Hamaccabiah hotel is the first-ever Israel-hosted international gathering of military advocate-generals and other top military officials.
Only the first day, Tuesday, was open to the public.
The 100 attendees include MAGs from the US, Canada, Britain, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Australia, Romania, Norway, Switzerland, Czech Republic and NATO .
It takes place in the shadow of a preliminary probe by the International Criminal Court into war crimes allegations regarding last summer’s Gaza war.
Efroni’s comments on the Hannibal Protocol referred to an attack on August 1 in which terrorists tried to kidnap Givati Brigade Lt. Hadar Goldin through a tunnel back into the Gaza Strip, bringing an IDF response that killed between some 30 and 150 Palestinians.
Both the military advocate- general and Attorney- General Yehuda Weinstein emphasized that the protocol does not allow any violation of international law.
More specifically, Efroni said, “This procedure does not allow when a soldier has been abducted for international law to be breached,” or for the army to breach “the requirement to act with proportionality aiming only to attack military targets.”
Next, Efroni said, “Although our efforts do not entirely eliminate the possibility of” harming civilians, “and this possibility becomes more likely given that Hamas deliberately acts to place civilians in danger, they meet our obligations under international law and often go above and beyond it.”
On the flip side, he said, “We cannot and should not accept the abuse, manipulation and distortion of LOA C [laws of armed conflict] and we must stand united in endeavoring to interpret LOA C in light of their basic principles and the challenges posed by the contemporary battlefield.”
The military advocate-general accused Hamas of inflating the ratio of civilians harmed as compared to Hamas gunmen.
Weinstein said, “Compliance with the basic principles of the laws of armed conflict is not just a legal duty for us.
Any other policy would not only be illegal, but would also undermine the objectives of our military, and the basic values on which the State of Israel was founded.”
He added, “The strength of the Israel Defense Forces stems from its values: If it loses its values, it loses its strength.”
Weinstein referred to the state’s “rigorous” investigations of war crimes allegations and its implementation of recommendations of the quasi-governmental Turkel Commission for improving those investigations.
The attorney-general said more recommendations would be implemented soon, but gave no specifics on the issue of open recommendations that has dragged for months beyond the originally discussed target date for a full report on the recommendations’ status.
Further, Weinstein reconfirmed his support for Efroni’s independence in his decisions regarding war crimes investigations.
The IDF has said that the purpose of the conference is to work together with other militaries to address the new, complex challenges presented by asymmetric warfare and by military adversaries who intentionally fight in urban settings and abuse the laws of armed conflict in a way that endangers their own civilian population.