This past Friday’s riots made clear that the “March of Return” is a literal smokescreen to divert the IDF’s attention from separate attempts by smaller groups of militants to breach the fence and enter Israel.
This is a situation that Daled Amos described in an example of international law mentioned in an ICRC document:
One expert expressed the view however that, in some wholly exceptional cases, rioting civilians can be considered as directly participating in hostilities if they are performing acts of violence which are specifically designed to harm directly the State having to face the riot in support of its enemy. This would be the case, for example, if a riot is led by the enemy in order to destroy the military equipment of the State’s armed forces or in order to divert attention of the armed forces and conduct a military operation in a nearby village. In this exceptional situation, the rioters are actually civilians directly participating in hostilities and become targetable under a conduct of hostilities paradigm.
Here’s video from Al Jazeera showing a group of men on Friday breaching the fence and entering Israel – some with large knives – before an IDF patrol sees them and they retreat back into Gaza.
Perhaps it could have been argued in earlier weeks that the participants in the riots were not aware that there were others using the riots as a means to go to quieter areas and attempt to breach the fence. However, by now thousands of people have watched this video, and there have been others like it, meaning at the very least many of the Gaza rioters know quite well that their actions are diverting IDF attention away from other sections of the border.
So under international law, the main groups of rioters that knowingly are diverting the army’s resources away from the military actions of the others – and breaching a border is a military action by any definition. Which makes those rioters also military targets, according to the ICRC expert quoted.
Perhaps it could be argued that not all Gaza rioters are aware of this military dimension of their activities. However, as the number of rioters have been decreasing every week, and the number of people who view the videos showing breaching the fence increase, the percentage of rioters unaware of the military dimension of their actions is diminishing rapidly.
We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.