Killing civilians intentionally : double effect, reprisal, and necessity in the Middle East
Michael L. Gross
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Political science quarterly, Vol. 120, no. 4, 2005-06, p. 555-579
The article focuses on the political issue of the intentional killing of civilians in the Middle East. According to a definition fixed by the 1949 Geneva Conventions, civilians are people who do not bear arms. They are a subset of noncombatants, that is, persons taking no active part in the hostilities. Since 2000, the war between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, formed to lead the Palestinian State, has witnessed the unprecedented use of terror, specifically the lethal attacks against civilians. The author contradicts the Palestinian claim that existential threats or reprisals for past wrongs can justify terror attacks on noncombatants. He also objects to Israeli explanations that invoke the doctrine of double effect and claim that noncombatants are not killed intentionally but die as an unintended side effect of necessary military operations. When asked about the use of terror, Mohammed Dahian, commander of Palestinian security forces in Gaza Strip in 2002, warned Israel against any case of civilians' harms. His doctrine, named the doctrine of double effect, is aimed to save the civilians.