Falk, O., Targeted Killings, Law and Counter-terrorism Effectiveness. Does Fair Play Pay Off?, 2021

This book examines the permissibility and effectiveness of targeted killing in campaigns against terror.

Targeted killing has become a primary counterterrorism measure used by several countries in their confrontation with lethal threats. The practice has been extensively used by the US in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, and by Israel in the West Bank and Gaza. Several studies have already explored the difficult balance between achieving security while maintaining the liberties and rights of a country’s civilians. This book goes a step further by seeking to examine whether maintaining those liberties by complying with legal standards and minimizing unintended deaths can be more effective for national security.

Using targeted killing applied by Israel, in particular, as well as the United States during the first decade of the twenty-first century as case studies, this book explores that question and ultimately assesses whether compliance with legal standards can strengthen a state in its campaign against terrorism and thus provide stronger security. The book focuses on civilian-related criteria, hypothesizing that minimizing civilian casualties will maximize effectiveness in an asymmetric war setting. The conclusions are not limited to a specific tactic or theater, and if adopted might have far-reaching implications for how asymmetric warfare is strategized.

This book will be of much interest to students of counter-terrorism, law, Middle Eastern studies, and security studies.