Israel’s efforts were entirely necessary and justified in the defence of that country’s national security. Israel’s conduct in the 2014 Gaza Conflict met and in some respects exceeded the highest standards we set for our own nations’ militaries.
The High Level Military Group (HLMG) consists of military leaders and officials from NATO and other democratic countries exploring the challenges of 21 Century warfare.
It was formed in early 2015 with a mandate to examine Israel’s conduct of the 2014 Gaza Conflict, in the context of a larger project seeking to address the implications for warfare where democratic nations are engaged in fighting enemies who disregard the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) but exploit our own nations’ adherence to LOAC for their gain. It is comprised of top-level practitioners from democratic nations whose expertise covers the entire gamut of the conduct of warfare and who are intimately familiar with the battlefield scenarios, operational and legal imperatives, and military and humanitarian duties relevant to the 2014 Gaza Conflict.
The members of the group: General Klaus Dieter Naumann (Germany), General Vincenzo Camporini (Italy), Lieutenant General David A. Deptula (United States), Admiral José María Terán (Spain), Major General Andrew James Molan (Australia), Lieutenant General Kamal Davar (India), Brigadier General Alain Lamballe (France), Colonel Richard Kemp (United Kingdom), Colonel Vincent Alcazar (United States), Colonel Eduardo Ramirez (Colombia), Ambassador Pierre-Richard Prosper (United States), Rafael L. Bardají (Executive Director of the Friends of Israel Initiative), Davis Lewin (Rapporteur of the High Level Military Group), Joseph Raskas (Research Assistant for The Friends of Israel Initiative).
Excerpt from the Executive Summary:
"Between June and August 2015, the High Level Military Group (HLMG) members and staff undertook two extensive fact-finding trips and four additional research trips to assess every aspect of Israel’s conduct in the 2014 Gaza Conflict. The State of Israel granted us unprecedented access, undoubtedly in excess of what our own countries would afford in similar circumstances. The Prime Minister, Defence Minister, Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) at the time of the 2014 Gaza Conflict, all ranks of the IDF, the Internal Security Agency (ISA), other relevant retired officials, as well as civilians affected by the fighting were made available to us.
The necessary absence of some classified material did not impede our ability to form a comprehensive professional assessment in line with our mandate. No topic was off limits and interlocutors gave frank and detailed responses throughout. In addition we were able to draw on a wide range of supplementary expertise, open and closed sources and were supported in our study by a Rapporteur and full staff.
The resultant report at hand constitutes our professional assessment as to whether Israel acted as a reasonable country would, within the norms and laws governing warfare, and on the basis of appropriate military conduct in the legal, operational and ultimately moral realm. The conclusions we have arrived at are our own, formed on the basis of only our professional experience and the exhaustive fact-finding we were able to engage in."
Excerpt from the report’s Conclusions:
"The responsibility for the outbreak of the 2014 Gaza Conflict lies with Hamas, which sought violent confrontation in an effort to seek to improve its strategic situation.
No country would accept the threat against its civilian population that these rockets and tunnels present to Israeli population centres. Members of the High Level Military Group, some of whom had never visited the country prior to our factfinding visits, were united in our view that Israel’s efforts were entirely necessary and justified in the defence of that country’s national security.
We can further be categorically clear that Israel’s conduct in the 2014 Gaza Conflict met and in some respects exceeded the highest standards we set for our own nations’ militaries. It is our view that Israel fought an exemplary campaign, adequately conceived with appropriately limited objectives, displaying both a very high level of operational capability as well as a total commitment to the Law of Armed Conflict. The IDF not only met its obligations under the Law of Armed Conflict, but often exceeded these on the battlefield at significant tactical cost, as well as in the humanitarian relief efforts that accompanied its operation."
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