War Crimes

Protocol 1

Additional to the 


Geneva Conventions, 1977



Section 1:
General Protection Against Effects of Hostilities
Chapter I: Basic Rule and Field of Application


Article 48 – Basic rule

Parties shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants and accordingly shall direct their operations only against military objectives.


Article 51 – Protection of the civilian population

1. The civilian population and individual civilians shall enjoy general protection against dangers arising from military operations. To give effect to this protection, the following rules, which are additional to other applicable rules of international law, shall be observed in all circumstances.

2. The civilian population as such, as well as individual civilians, shall not be the object of attack. Acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population are prohibited.

3. Civilians shall enjoy the protection afforded by this Section, unless and for such time as they take a direct part in hostilities.

4. Indiscriminate attacks are prohibited. Indiscriminate attacks are:

a. those which are not directed at a specific military objective;

b. those which employ a method or means of combat which cannot be directed at a specific military objective; or

c. those which employ a method or means of combat the effects of which cannot be limited as required by this Protocol; and consequently, in each such case, are of a nature to strike military objectives and civilians or civilian objects without distinction.

5. Among others, the following types of attacks are to be considered as indiscriminate:

a. an attack by bombardment by any methods or means which treats as a single military objective a number of clearly separated and distinct military objectives located in a city, town, village or other area containing a similar concentration of civilians or civilian objects; and

b.  an attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.

6. Attacks against the civilian population or civilians by way of reprisals are prohibited.

7. The presence or movements of the civilian population or individual civilians shall not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations, in particular in attempts to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield, favor or impede military operations. The Parties to the conflict shall not direct the movement of the civilian population or individual civilians in order to attempt to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield military operations.

8. Any violation of these prohibitions shall not release the Parties to the conflict from their legal obligations with respect to the civilian population and civilians, including the obligation to take the precautionary measures provided for in Article 57.

Chapter IV: Precautionary Measures
Article 57: Precautions in Attack

1. In the conduct of military operations, constant care shall be taken to spare the civilian population, civilians and civilian objects.

2. With respect to attacks, the following precautions shall be taken:

a. Those who plan or decide upon an attack shall:

i.   do everything feasible to verify that the objectives to be attacked are neither civilians nor civilian objects and are not subject to special protection but are military objectives within the meaning of paragraph 2 of Article 52 and that it is not prohibited by the provisions of this Protocol to attack them;

ii.   take all feasible precautions in the choice of means and methods of attack with a view to avoiding, and in any event to minimizing, incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects;

iii.  refrain from deciding to launch any attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated;

b.  an attack shall be canceled or suspended if it becomes apparent that the objective is not a military one or is subject to special protection or that the attack may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated;

c.  effective advance warning shall be given of attacks which may affect the civilian population, unless circumstances do not permit.

3.  When a choice is possible between several military objectives for obtaining a similar military advantage, the objective to be selected shall be that the attack on which may be expected to cause the least danger to civilian lives and to civilian objects.

4.  In the conduct of military operations at sea or in the air, each Party to the conflict shall, in conformity with its rights and duties under the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, take all reasonable precautions to avoid losses of civilian lives and damage to civilian objects

5.  No provision of this article may be construed as authorizing any attacks against the civilian population, civilians or civilian objects.



11 thoughts on “War Crimes

  1. Thank you Bock – I rest my case and defy anyone to defend this blatant disregard for international law. The Israeli government are guilty of war crimes on several counts. Plain and simple.

  2. Plain and Simple!

    rockmother, you had a typo there, you did mean to say Hamas, right? cause that’s what I read in almost all passages cited. Yes, firing inaccurate rockets directly at residential areas, with no military target whatsoever, with the aim of hitting civilians, and firing from and hiding behind civilian population, all surely fit those parts you emphasized. Surely that’s what you had in mind, and I’m positive you will diligently call for their persecution on that.

  3. I’d call for hamas to be prosecuted for targeting civilians with rockets.

    And I’d also call for the prosecution of the IDF members and government ministers who were responsible for breaching all the other highlighted provisions.

  4. I have already posted the Israelis Attornry Generals response to the War Crimes question under “1000 dead” post.

    The U.N Human Rights Council and the U.N. Security Council have the authority to order an investigation, It will be fairly predictable that the U.S. may well block every move made by the International Community, This time they cannot and must not escape from the moral responsibility of the genocide taking place.
    Gideon Levy writing in Haaetz said “Racism and hatred are rearing their ugly heads, as is the impulse for revenge and the thirst for blood, “the inclination of the commander in the IDF is now to kill as many as possible” he continues “anyone who justifies this war also justifies war crimes”
    The wave of revulsion expressed globally is also being expressed within Israel, Every single one of us must take action to insure they do not walk away from this, as they walked away from Sabra and Shatila, and the use of cluster bombs against civilian targets in Lebanon in 2006.

  5. Norma – very well, I’m sure there will be plenty of people eager to sue Israel (and that’s what the attorney general meant in what he said), let’s wait and see what indeed holds as a true war crime. In fact, there have been legal advisors working with all of the army’s planning, to make sure that there’s adherence to the exact rules Bock listed, which are not guaranteed to eliminate civilian casualties completely, but rather intentional or excessive ones.

    I doubt, by the way, that Hamas will be persecuted in any way, as I don’t think they are not really a legal entity that can be tried, same as we could not sue them for all the suicide bombings they’ve conducted. We are a democratic country, and as such as we follow international laws and take responsibility over our deeds, it’s just difficult for you, not having been in a state of war recently (lucky you), to understand that these are the ugly outcomes of war. So feel free to call the Hague.

    And as for the “wave of revulsion” – ever wondered why of all places, in the west bank (controlled by the palestinian authority) there have not been significant protests for Hamas? do they know something you don’t? (hint: yes, they do, and if in the next Palestinian elections Hamas will be defeated, don’t be surprised).

  6. We’re not talking about suing anybody here. War crimes are a criminal matter, not civil, and the appropriate procedure is prosecution.

    Individuals can be prosecuted in the Hague for war crimes, and that applies to members of Hamas as well as to members of the IDF.

  7. Ofer – I was merely referring to Israel’s disproportionate attacks in this particular instance – I do not support violence against another person or suicide attacks by anyone/any faction on another person either whichever side they be on or agenda they intend to fulfill.

  8. Ofer — Nobody here speaks for Hamas. Nobody here defends attacks against civilians.

    However, there is no comparison, in military terms between the capabilities of Hamas and the capabilities of the Israeli military.

    The rockets are not capable of damaging Israel militarily. Although they have harmed the families of their victims, in military terms they are insignificant. In the last eight years they have killed ten Israelis. Ten. Less than traffic accidents kill in two weeks on your roads.

    Therefore, even though the Hamas attacks are crimes, they do not justify your decision to blast a thousand civilians to pieces.

    Look at what is being done in your name. This is barbarity.

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