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Israel has not made public statements condemning the use of explosive weapons in populated areas (EWIPA) or acknowledged the harm which it causes; however, it has participated in the political negotiations toward a political declaration on the use of EWIPA. 

Political declaration

During consultations for a political declaration on the use of EWIPA in 2019, Israel argued that “the calls encouraging avoiding the use of explosive weapons are counterproductive and unreasonable as far as law abiding states are concerned.” Israel also noted that law-abiding states are forced to conduct military operations in urban settings.[1]

In 2020, Israel spoke at the consultations for a political declaration, commenting on a draft of key elements for the declaration prepared by Ireland. Israel reiterated its sentiment that states are forced to engage in urban warfare. It argued that when non-state actors conduct their operations in populated areas, states are compelled to fight in such settings to protect themselves and civilians. Israel wanted the use of EWIPA in these contexts to be seen as a measure to protect civilians. It called for the political declaration as a whole to focus more heavily on the protection of civilians in urban warfare than the use of EWIPA and suggested replacing EWIPA with “urban warfare” throughout the text. Israel also emphasised the importance of international humanitarian law (IHL), insisting that IHL is a sufficient framework to protect civilians in urban warfare and urged the declaration to acknowledge the “lawful” use of weapons, including explosive weapons, in populated areas when done in accordance with IHL. It said the declaration should recognise the obligations of all parties to conflict, particularly non-state actors, to be compliant with IHL.[2]

Israel similarly participated in the 2021 consultations for a political declaration. Israel expressed support for the addition of qualifiers throughout the text. It indicated that it only wanted the declaration to address what it refers to as “indiscriminate use” of explosive weapons and supported qualifiers throughout the text indicating that harm “can” potentially arise from the use of EWIPA, saying that otherwise the political declaration would stigmatise explosive weapons generally. Israel objected to much of the specific nomenclature in the proposed draft. It repeatedly objected to the phrase “reverberating effects of EWIPA” where Israel suggested replacing the phrase with “expected risks”. Israel also opposed this term as it said it would promote a legal argument that all reverberating affects have to be included in proportionality assessments. Israel, which argued that “civilian harm” and “explosive weapons with wide-areas effects” are not “defined terms.” It also argued that the idea that international human rights law is applicable during armed conflict is “controversial,” and said the declaration should only encourage states to “avoid indiscriminate attacks” rather than restrict their use of explosive weapon in populated areas.[3]


[1] Reaching Critical Will (2019). ‘Towards a Political Declaration on the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas: States Need to Ensure that Expressed Commitments Translate into Real Impacts on the Ground’.

[2] Ray Acheson, Reaching Critical Will (2020). ‘Impacts, not Intentionality: The Imperative of Focusing on the Effects of Explosive Weapons in a Political Declaration’.

[3] Ray Acheson, Reaching Critical Will (2021). ‘Report on the March 2021 Consultations on a Political Declaration on the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas’.

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