From Knives to Kites: Developments and Dilemmas around the Use of Force in the Israeli–Palestinian Conflict since ‘Protective Edge’

In: Journal of International Humanitarian Legal Studies

This article analyses the legal regulation of the use of force in international law in the context of three emerging Palestinian forms of struggle against Israeli occupation: the Knife Intifada, the disturbances at the border, and the launching of incendiary kites. It discusses what legal paradigms or concepts should regulate the type and level of force used in each situation – a question that is complicated by various dilemmas – and finally, appraises the Israel Defence Forces policies tailored in response. The article evaluates the applicability of two legal paradigms regulating the use of force in military operations – (i) the conduct of hostilities and (ii) law enforcement – as well as the concept of personal self-defence in international law and the escalation of force procedure. While the Knife Intifada clearly falls under the law enforcement paradigm, the disturbances at the border and the launching of incendiary kites raise more difficult legal questions. Categorising them under a paradigm of law enforcement is less straightforward, and may have undesirable ramifications for safeguarding humanitarian interests. The article argues that the use of force in the disturbances at the border and the incendiary kites cases should be regulated by the concept of self-defence and escalation of force procedure, and that the application of the self-defence concept should be adapted, mutatis mutandis, to situations of law enforcement and to situations of hostilities.