My research on Israeli military lawyers has finally been published over at Environment & Planning D: Society and Space. You can read the full version, entitled ‘Frames of law: operational legal advice in the Israeli military’ here. And the abstract:
In this paper I draw on interviews conducted with former Israeli military lawyers about their role in lethal targeting operations. I argue that military lawyers and the practice of operational law help to legitimize and extend violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. To make the case I focus on Israel’s ‘targeted killing policy’ (2000–present) and on the involvement of military lawyers in the planning and execution stages of targeting operations. I offer two contributions to the literature on war and law; first, I extend Derek Gregory’s analysis of the ‘kill chain’ by arguing that targeting is increasingly made possible by a ‘technolegal’ process. Second, I add nuance to Eyal Weizman’s account of how law extends violence in what he calls the ‘humanitarian present’. I argue that we must attend not only to international humanitarian law and different scales of law but to the simultaneously plural and overlapping legal regimes that govern late modern war. I conclude with a reflection on Judith Butler’s Frames of War to think through the ways in which ‘frames of law’ have come to structure our apprehension of targeting and war today.
The paper is being published in a special issue on ‘war/law/space’ that I’m co-editing with my dear friend and colleague Michael D. Smith. The special issue is out later this month but for now the EPD blog has some info and links to all of the other papers. More on all of this soon and I’ll post our introduction to the special issue with more links, info and commentary in the next couple of weeks.
In the meantime, Mikko Joronen (School of Management, Tampere, Finland) has published a very interesting paper on the 2015 Israeli war on Gaza: “Death comes knocking on the roof”: Thanatopolitics of Ethical Killing During Operation Protective Edge in Gaza’ (full read: here).
While my paper was in press, US legal scholar (and former military lawyer) Michael Schmitt and military lawyer John Merriam published two papers on the very same topic as my Frames of Law paper (click here and here). Not surprisingly, they have a very different take on things and their papers argue that the Israeli military not only abide by the law but go beyond it in terms of the restrictions they place on the use of force. Schmitt and Merriam have unparalleled access to the Israeli military lawyers because of who they are: they’re friendly faces that the Israeli military can trust. All of this requires a full post, which I’ll get to soon.
I welcome any comments or criticisms of my paper: do get in touch if you have any.