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Legal Operational Advice in the Israeli Defense Forces: The International Law Department and the Changing Nature of International Humanitarian Law

87 Pages Posted: 6 Aug 2012  

Amichai Cohen

Ono Academic College - Faculty of Law; Israel Democracy Institute

Date Written: August 8, 2010

Abstract

The International Law Department (ILD) of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is a small unit of lawyers, entrusted with implementing the Laws of Armed Conflict within the IDF, through 'legal operational advice.' This article analyzes the history and character of this unit, in view of recent operations of the IDF, and accusations of war crimes waged against IDF officers.

The article suggests that the work of the ILD should be seen as part of the internalization of the Laws of Armed Conflict within Israeli society. The Laws of Armed Conflict have significantly developed in recent years. However, these developments are sometimes vague, and lack domestic legitimacy. ILD lawyers both interpret the relatively vague notions of the international law, and contribute to the creation of new legal norms. This process of internalization is essential in the attainment of legitimacy to the Laws of Armed Conflict, and to the transformation of domestic Israeli perceptions about this part of international law.

The article also suggests how to improve the performance of the ILD, thereby enabling it to improve its performance and the process of internalization.

Keywords: international law of armed conflict, IHL, Israeli Defense Forces, Legal Operational Advice

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Cohen, Amichai, Legal Operational Advice in the Israeli Defense Forces: The International Law Department and the Changing Nature of International Humanitarian Law (August 8, 2010). Connecticut Journal of International Law, Vol. 26, No. 2, Spring 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2124856

Amichai Cohen (Contact Author)

Ono Academic College - Faculty of Law ( email )

104 Zahal St.
Kiryat Ono, 55000
Israel

Israel Democracy Institute ( email )

4 Pinsker St.
Jerusalem
Israel

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