State Refuses to Declare Protective Edge a 'War'
The State Attorney on Tuesday called for the Supreme Court to reject calls within the Knesset to classify Operation Protective Edge as a "war," a move being urged so as to increase state compensation for damages.
The operation has already seen 67 Israeli soldiers and citizens killed and has been the longest such operation in Gaza, but in the State Attorney's letter to the Supreme Court it is claimed that declaring it a war does not change the matter of compensation.
"Declaring a war does not in itself lead to the giving of compensation or financial assistance to residents of the state who were injured in the armed conflict," wrote the State Attorney. "Accordingly, even the lack of a declaration of war does not hold relevance (to the issue of compensation)."
"The topic of granting compensation as either direct or indirect war damage is dealt with in the law, and the declaration of war is not needed in order to decide on giving compensation," continued the letter.
The State Attorney noted that the state acted to ensure that Mas Rechush (Property Tax) would be used to compensate individuals and businesses who have their property damaged by rocket attacks during the operation.
Important for compensation or not?
Likewise, the government voted last month to provide funds for front-line businesses located near the Gaza border in response to loss of income.
However, businesses not located in the Gaza area that are experiencing financial losses due to the operation - either due to a loss of manpower after workers were called up for reserve army duty, or because revenues have been cut over fears of rocket attacks - are not included in the compensation.
A key argument behind the call for a declaration of war is that such a move would allow businesses not in the immediate environs of Gaza to be financially aided for losses incurred during the operation. The State Attorney's letter did not directly address this particular question.
In closing, the State Attorney wrote about the Second Lebanon War, stating "the decision to term the campaign in 2006 a 'war' was at the symbolic and ceremonial level, enacted under the residual authority of the government, and did not have any budgetary or legal meaning."
In addition to the question of declaring the operation a war, another request has surfaced calling on the government to declare Gaza "enemy territory." Such a move which would see Israel stripped of responsibility for damage to civilian areas and casualties.
The Security Cabinet has also been debating two proposals, one to establish a funding and assistance program for veterans of Protective Edge, and one to launch a special rebuilding project for Gaza belt communities under heavy fire.