IDF lawyers set 'conditions' for assassination policy
The Israel Defense Forces Judge Advocate General has spelled out conditions that must be met before the army carries out selective assassinations of terror suspects.
The Israel Defense Forces Judge Advocate General has spelled out conditions that must be met before the army carries out selective assassinations of terror suspects. JAGbelieves the decision makers who assess assassination strikes must decide whether a specific hit is likely to thwart future terror attacks.
The IDF rules out punitive assassinations carried out in retribution for past terror strikes.
IDF sources say that, in internal army consultations, JAG officers stressed that select killings of suspects can be carried out only under the following conditions:
l There must be well-supported information showing the terrorist will plan or carry out a terror attack in the near future.
l The policy can be enacted only after appeals to the Palestinian Authority calling for the terrorist's arrest have been ignored.
lAttempts to arrest the suspect by use of IDF troops have failed.
l The assassination is not to be carried out in retribution for events of the past. Instead it can only be done to prevent attacks in the future which are liable to toll multiple casualties.
A policy memorandum drafted by the judge advocate general supplements the listing of these criteria with legal arguments.
IDF legal sources believe, "The select assassination policy must be viewed as killing to preempt terror attacks. If you know the person has four times in the past sent his people to shoot at Israelis traveling on the roads, and if you have information about his intention to sponsor more activities of this sort tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, then the suspect meets the assassination criteria."
Recently the outgoing president of the IDF's military court of appeals, Major General Ilan Schiff, told the IDF's weekly magazine BaMahane that he believes it would be best if a legal expert were to review the list of terror suspects who are candidates for assassination and authorize specific killings before they are carried out.
But a high-ranking IDF officer told Ha'aretz that he disagrees with Major General Schiff's position; a legal authority does not need to give the green light in a legal brief before each assassination, said the officer.
However, the officer added, he doesn't rule out the prospect of IDF legal experts becoming more involved in decisions mandating IDF operations and strikes in the territories.
IDF sources were pleased with a High Court decision last week which rejected petitions calling for a halt to the army's assassination policy. IDF officers view the High Court's strongly-worded opinion as official backing for the legal arguments which the judge advocate general has relied on to endorse selective assassinations.