Q&A: Use of force in law enforcement22 December 2021
How does international law regulate the use of force in law enforcement? This Q&A clarifies the international legal framework governing the use of force by Israeli forces in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) in law enforcement operations, specifically in the context of demonstrations.
The Q&A examines legal arguments that Israel has advanced to justify patterns of excessive use of force in its law enforcement operations in the oPt. This analysis responds to concerns that Israeli policies and practices regarding the use of force systematically violate applicable rules of international law – concerns which have been exacerbated by recent reports indicating that the Israeli army has expanded its “rules of engagement” to authorize Israeli forces to fire live ammunition at Palestinians who throw stones even when they are fleeing.
Download PDF (opens in new window)The Use of Force in Law Enforcement in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
1. Which bodies of international law regulate the use of force in armed conflict?
2. How does international law regulate the use of force in law enforcement?
3. Does the existence of an armed conflict, including occupation, influence how force can be used for law enforcement?
4. What is Israel’s approach to law enforcement in the oPt and to what extent does this conform with international law?
5. Who are “main instigators” and which rules on the use of force apply to them?
6. Can Israel use live ammunition to control demonstrations and protests?
7. Which measures are required to ensure accountability for the use of force in law enforcement?
For more on the use of force see our thematic note on law enforcement in Israel-Palestine and the Diakonia Easy Guide to IHL (available in English and Arabic).
Other relevant resources can be found here: