We have been hearing a lot lately about Israel’s use of “disproportionate force.” I would like to pose the question, What is “‘proportionate force?” Should Israel send unguided rockets into civilian areas of Gaza? Should it dig tunnels into areas near Gazan homes and try to kill and/or abduct the arabs living in the home and surrounding areas? Should its soldiers dress like Hamas “fighters” and try to kill members of Hamas and civilians?
Some have claimed that while Hamas’ methods are lamentable, Hamas basically has no choice since they are fighting a much better equipped force. Hamas does have choices. Its tunnels can lead to military areas, not civilian homes. Its fighters can don uniforms so it will be easy to distinguish civilians from militants. It can store its armaments and weapons in areas other than schools, homes and mosques, and it can fire from less densely populated areas.
Furthermore, Hamas could have used the money and supplies it received to build houses and develop industry to strengthen the economy. However, Hamas, the ruling terrorist entity elected by the population, uses whatever resources it has towards the purchase and manufacture of military supplies and deep concrete tunnels. So Israel blockades Gaza to try to prevent the flow of military equipment and building material.
Moreover, had the Gazans wanted peace, they could have restarted the very profitable agricultural business that existed when the Jews were in Gaza, using the hothouses left by Israel. Their failure to do so and their election of Hamas to lead them shows that their main interest is confrontation, not coexistence.
But let’s get back to the main point, “disproportionate force.” What did the United States do in Afghanistan post 9/11? Did it send a few planes? Did it hold peace process meetings with Al-Qaeda? Did it just ask for an international boycott of Afghanistan?
No. It sent over a hundred thousand troops to Afghanistan to fight the enemy. Do I fault them? Not in the least. When a small group, such as Al-Qaeda or Hamas, attacks a larger entity such as the United States or Israel, they can and should expect that these countries will do all they can to keep their citizens safe. America had had enough of Al-Qaeda’s terrorism and it set out to destroy it. One of a country’s main functions is to protect its citizens. Less is not acceptable. So yes, if a small entity attacks a larger entity it can be expected to feel the full force of the larger entity directed against it. The only example of disproportionate force I can conceive of is the use of nuclear or chemical weapons.
When a country’s citizens are forced to run to bomb shelters every few minutes, totally disrupting their lives and causing untold numbers of new PTSD cases; when people are loathe to step out of their homes for fear that they will be kidnapped or killed by terrorists popping out of a hole; then yes, it’s Israel’s duty to do all it can to end the terrorism.
War is a nasty business. Unfortunately, civilians are often caught in the crossfire and many die as a result. In Afghanistan, for example, although almost 2200 US soldiers have died, the death toll for civilians is over 21,000.
Israel has tried to mitigate civilian deaths by warning residents of an area of immanent attack. No other army has ever done so. With all that, there have been many civilian deaths. The number would have been greatly reduced had Hamas cared enough about the safety and security of Gaza residents to build bomb shelters, rather than tunnels; locate its armaments and tunnels away from civilian facilities; dressed its soldiers in uniforms so they could clearly be distinguished from civilians; shot from non civilian areas; and advised those in danger to leave their homes.
Israel is fighting for its existence. Its enemies include Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorist groups. But let’s not fool ourselves. Those, like Hamas and the other terrorist groups, who want Israel wiped off the map also hate the United States and other freedom loving countries. A less than complete victory by Israel is a victory for terrorists and the forces of evil worldwide.