Al-Akiti of Oxford University and author at Living Islam prohibits targeting Israeli civilians, permits attacking soldiers in times of no recognized cease fire in Palestine

Fatwa, posted 4.22.2010, from United Kingdom, in:
Religious Authority: 
Afifi Muhammad Akiti

Question: Regarding targeting civilians, since Israeli women are compulsory members of the Israeli army, does this mean that they fall into the category of women who fight and that makes them legitimate targets in the case of [the conflict in] Palestine?

Answer: If it is said: "I have heard a scholar say that 'Israeli women are not like women in our society because they are 'militarised'. By implication, this means that they fall into the category of women who fight and that this makes them legitimate targets but only in the case of Palestine."

We say: No properly schooled jurists from any of the Four Schools [four Sunni school of legal thought, see glossary] would say this as a legal judgment if they faithfully followed the juridical processes of the orthodox Schools; for if it is true that the scholar made such a statement and meant it in the way you've implied, then not only does this violate the well-known principal rule: "It is not permissible to kill their women and children if they are not in direct combat", but the supposed remarks also show a lack of sophistication in the legal particulars. If this is the case, then it has to be said here that this is not among the majority, about which one can afford to agree to disagree, since it is outright wrong by the principles and the rules.

Let us restate, as our jurists have succinctly summarised its rule of engagement: a soldier can only attack a female or (if applicable) child soldier (or a male civilian) in self-defense and only when she herself (and not someone else from her army) is engaged in direct combat. (As for male soldiers, it goes without saying that they are considered combatants as soon as they arrive on the battlefield even if they are not in direct combat - provided of course that the remaining conventions of war have been observed throughout, and that all this is during a valid war when there is no ceasefire.)

Not only is this strict rule of engagement already made clear in our secondary legal texts, but this is also obvious from the linguistic analysis of the primary proof-texts used to derive this principal rule. Hence, the form of the verb used in the scriptures...denotes a direct or a personal or a reciprocal relationship between two agents: the minimum for which is one of them making an effort or attempt to act upon the other. The immediate legal implication here is that one of the two can only even be considered a legitimate target when there is a reciprocal or direct relationship.

In reality [w