IDF Appoints Legal Advisor for Cyber Warfare

June 23, 2013

2 min read

When thou drawest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it. … And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it. (Deuteronomy 20:10-12)

NATO Meeting in Tallinn, Estonia (Photo: Estonia Foreign Ministry, Wiki Commons)
NATO Meeting in Tallinn, Estonia (Photo: Estonia Foreign Ministry, Wiki Commons)

The bible outlines the laws of war: when to fight and why, against whom and how.  It admonishes first to offer peace to a potential enemy and attack only if refused.  It does not, however, address the issue of cyber warfare, a technology not known in biblical times.  As such, the IDFhas appointed a legal advisor to help determine legal boundaries of cyber warfare.

The job of this advisor, an army major who has been fulfilling the role informally for some time now,  will regulate cyber warfare activities based on an examination of international law, according to the IDF.

[box type=”shadow” align=”aligncenter” ]Learn more about Israel’s self defense needs in this eye-opening video about Israel’s legitimate defense needs. [/box]The army has not released much information about its cyber activities, and some are concerned that cyber warfare may result in great harm to civilians.  The appointment of a legal advisor may help alleviate some of these concerns.

As of now, there is no official international standard for cyber warfare, no “rules of engagement.”  The Tallinn Manual on International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare, which was put together by a team of researchers and legal experts in the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence in Estonia, while not an official document yet, is the closest thing to international law available.  The manual states that civilian targets, such as hospitals, dams and nuclear power stations, must be avoided.  Hackers, however, may be considered legal targets.  Dr. Eviatar Matanya, head of Israel’s National Cyber Headquarters, says “[The manual] has a great importance as a starting point for future discussions on the subject.”

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