The High Court of Justice ruled unanimously on Thursday that targeted killings by the Israel Defense Forces since the Intifada (Palestinian Uprising) are legal.
The ruling was given on the condition of not harming uninvolved Palestinian civilians and said compensation should be dispensed to the families of innocent bystanders killed in the operations.
The court, however, emphasized that not all targeted killings were legal. Every case must be examined differently based on its situation.
The court said civilians on their way to carry out an attack against the IDF or civilians that had planned an attack were fair targets. However, civilians were not to be targeted for past actions if they had ceased participating in violent activities.
“Civilians shall enjoy the protection afforded by this section, unless and for such time as they take a direct part in hostilities,” the Geneva Protocol stated.
The court gave four conditions for a targeted killing to be approved.
First, an individual could only be considered a target if strong evidence proved he was involved in hostile activities.
Second, if another method of stopping the attack was available, such as arrest, then it should be used. If the arrest poses a risk to soldier’s lives, the army can kill him.
Third, an independent investigation must be launched immediately after the operation. If an innocent civilian was harmed, then compensation should be paid.
Fourth, collateral damage must be proportional. For example, shooting at a sniper targeting Israeli troops is permissible even if an innocent bystander might be wounded.