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The Lebanon War and the Application of the Proportionality Principle

26 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2007  

Amichai Cohen

Ono Academic College - Faculty of Law; Israel Democracy Institute

Date Written: 2007


Proportionality is considered one of the basic principles of International Humanitarian Law, or the Laws of Armed Conflict. And yet, it is an extremely difficult concept to apply. The formula which requests military commanders to take into account the damage to the civilian population of the enemy seems to be full of vague terms and undefined expressions. Using the conflict in Lebanon during the summer of 2006 as a case study, this comment offers a new look at the concept of proportionality. It suggests that much of the debates concerning proportionality emanate from different understandings of the term. The paper offers that in some situations states view proportionality as a form of reprisal. The paper also attempts an initial application of this explanation to the conflict in Lebanon.

Keywords: International humanitarian law, laws of armed conflict, proportionality, Israel, Lebanon, Hezbullah

Suggested Citation

Cohen, Amichai, The Lebanon War and the Application of the Proportionality Principle (2007). Hebrew University International Law Research Paper No. 6-07. Available at SSRN: or

Amichai Cohen (Contact Author)

Ono Academic College - Faculty of Law ( email )

104 Zahal St.
Kiryat Ono, 55000

Israel Democracy Institute ( email )

4 Pinsker St.

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