Huh? Israel was attacked by peoples seeking that state's destruction who are governed by an organization dedicated to Israel's obliteration. (Hamas leader Nizzar Rayyan--killed in an air strike--was quoted saying "Israel is an impossibility. It is an offense against God.") As Sigmund, Carl and Alfred says, "There is no such thing as a ‘disproportionate response’ to calls for genocide."
Others address the measure of proper proportionality, which I may explore in a later post. The issues here are actions and intent: the central distinction of our era is that terrorists target unarmed civilians (or use them as human shields), while those that battle terror spend lives and treasure to minimize collateral damage to innocents.
Five recent columns apply that principle to the Gaza conflict:
Charles Krauthammer in Friday's Washington Post:
Some geopolitical conflicts are morally complicated. The Israel-Gaza war is not. It possesses a moral clarity not only rare but excruciating.Malanie Phillips in the December 30th Spectator (U.K.):
Israel is so scrupulous about civilian life that, risking the element of surprise, it contacts enemy noncombatants in advance to warn them of approaching danger. Hamas, which started this conflict with unrelenting rocket and mortar attacks on unarmed Israelis -- 6,464 launched from Gaza in the past three years -- deliberately places its weapons in and near the homes of its own people.
This has two purposes. First, counting on the moral scrupulousness of Israel, Hamas figures civilian proximity might help protect at least part of its arsenal. Second, knowing that Israelis have new precision weapons that may allow them to attack nonetheless, Hamas hopes that inevitable collateral damage -- or, if it is really fortunate, an errant Israeli bomb -- will kill large numbers of its own people for which, of course, the world will blame Israel.
For Hamas, the only thing more prized than dead Jews are dead Palestinians. The religion of Jew-murder and self-martyrdom is ubiquitous. And deeply perverse, such as the Hamas TV children's program in which an adorable live-action Palestinian Mickey Mouse is beaten to death by an Israeli (then replaced by his more militant cousin, Nahoul the Bee, who vows to continue on Mickey's path to martyrdom).
At war today in Gaza, one combatant is committed to causing the most civilian pain and suffering on both sides. The other combatant is committed to saving as many lives as possible -- also on both sides.
The vast majority of Gazans who have been killed were Hamas terrorists. According to today’s UN figures, 364 have been killed of whom only 62 were civilians. Israel has been targeting only the Hamas infrastructure and its terror-masters, as detailed here. While some civilian casualties are unfortunately inevitable, Israel is clearly attempting to minimise them. It is Hamas which deliberately targets Israeli civilians when it fires its rockets and detonates its human bombs specifically at Israeli civilian targets. It is Hamas which deliberately turns its own civilians into targets by siting its rockets and other military equipment under apartment blocks and in centres of densely crowded population. Hamas tries to kill as many Israeli innocents as possible; Israel’s military operation is conducted solely to defend its people against such attack and is designed to minimise the loss of civilian life in Gaza. To draw an equivalence between the two is obscene.Alan Dershowitz in the January 2nd Wall Street Journal:
The claim that Israel has violated the principle of proportionality -- by killing more Hamas terrorists than the number of Israeli civilians killed by Hamas rockets -- is absurd. First, there is no legal equivalence between the deliberate killing of innocent civilians and the deliberate killings of Hamas combatants. Under the laws of war, any number of combatants can be killed to prevent the killing of even one innocent civilian.Jeff Jacoby in the January 1st Boston Globe:
Second, proportionality is not measured by the number of civilians actually killed, but rather by the risk posed. This is illustrated by what happened on Tuesday, when a Hamas rocket hit a kindergarten in Beer Sheva, though no students were there at the time. Under international law, Israel is not required to allow Hamas to play Russian roulette with its children's lives.
The proximate cause of the fighting in Gaza was the sharp increase in rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli civilians after Hamas refused to extend its tenuous cease-fire with Israel past Dec. 19. But the deeper cause was the transformation of Gaza into an Iranian proxy and terrorist hub following Israel's reckless "disengagement" in 2005. Israelis convinced themselves that ethnically cleansing Gaza of its Jews and handing over the territory to the Palestinians would reduce violence and make Israel safer. It did just the opposite.Victor Davis Hanson Friday on The Corner:
In 2000, Israelis had similarly believed that a unilateral retreat from southern Lebanon would deprive Hezbollah of any pretext for continuing its war against the Jewish state. But far from extinguishing Hezbollah's jihadist dreams, it inflamed them.
The hard truth is that no matter how much Israelis crave peace, they cannot achieve it through concessions and compromises and "road maps" -- not when their enemies view such overtures and agreements as signs of weakness, and as proof that terrorism works. For 60 years, Israel has had to contend with the hostility of its neighbors and the heavy costs of war; its yearning for peace is understandable. But there will be no peace without victory, and no victory without fighting for it.
When should Israel stop? When they think there is a good chance the rockets will stop -- and not until then. That will happen only when the message seems to be getting through to Gazans that they might better jeer rather than cheer rockets launched from their empty lots and rooftops, given the retribution that will inevitably follow, despite the promulgation of phoney doctrines like proportionality and the tired old game of "hood on -- I'm a scary rocket launcher"/"hood off -- I'm a scared civilian victim of Israeli aggression".See also various IDF videos (alternative here and here).
(via The Corner, MaxedOutMama, David Rivkin)