08/12/2023 21:45:18
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On the legality and necessity of demolition of houses in Rafah area

The Oslo Accords (1994-1995) granted the Palestinian Authority control over most of the Gaza Strip. The agreements specified that the IDF would continue to control a narrow strip in between the area under Palestinian control and the border with Egypt, called the "Philadelphi Route. On both sides of the route are the towns of the Palestinian Rafah and the Egyptian Rafah.

Since the signing of the accords, the area has become one of the main pipelines for weapon smuggling, as well as the smuggling of drugs and goods into the Gaza Strip. The smuggled weapons are transferred to the rest of the Gaza Strip and used for carrying out terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers. For this smuggling the Palestinian dug many tunnels under the Gaza - Egypt border.

In light of this unprecedented lethal threat, and the failure of the Palestinian leadership to comply with its obligations to fight this terrorism, Israeli security forces have sought to find new effective and lawful counter-measures that would minimize the occurrence of such attacks in general, and suicide terrorism in particular.

Since the entrance of the tunnels is usually located in areas populated by Palestinian civilians, IDF has no other choice than to enter these areas. Here IDF is facing armed opposition by the Palestinian terrorists, fighting from within civilian structures, often occupied by families with children.

When terrorists fire from within civilian structures or activate roadside charges from trees and fields, military necessity dictates the demolition of these locations. Under International Law, these structures are considered legitimate military targets. Therefore, in the midst of combat, when dictated by operational necessity, Israeli security forces may lawfully destroy structures used by terrorists.

Israel refrains whenever possible from attacking terrorist targets from the air or with artillery, in order to minimize collateral damage, a policy which entails risking the lives of Israeli soldiers. The death of 13 soldiers in ground operations in the Gaza Strip in early May 2004 is just one example of the heavy price Israel pays for its commitment to minimize Palestinian civilian casualties.

Not only serve some of the civilian buildings to conceal openings of tunnels used to smuggle arms, explosives and terrorists from Egypt into the Gaza Strip, other buildings  are used for the manufacturing and concealment of rockets, mortars, weapons and explosive devices to be used against Israel. The demolition of these structures is often the only way to combat this threat.
In conclusion, Israel must take the necessary measures to protect the lives and security of its citizens and it is doing so in full compliance with International Law, while making earnest efforts to uphold the rights of Palestinians not involved in terrorism.
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