Monday, August 18, 2014
Tick. Tick. Tick. It’s starting to feel a bit routine. If it’s Monday, it must be time for the ceasefire--to be extended? To be extended after some missiles are fired into Israel? Not to be extended? Not to be extended, with missiles fired, Israel responding, then reinstated? To be unilaterally extended? Unilaterally breached?
Who knows. And who knows which variation will come with tonight’s midnight deadline. Or maybe it will be a whole new scenario that no one has yet thought of.
It’s a hell of a way to live, particularly for those in the South or those from the South that would like to return home. Basically a terrorist organization gets to decide whether we have war or peace. If it is war, they get to decide how intense it is. We are not supposed to defeat them if they just shoot a few missiles at our civilians.
In the name of “proportionality,” we are supposed to just respond in kind. Because we have invested in protecting our civilians, we are judged to be poor sports or, worse, war criminals, if many more of them die because their leaders invested in missiles and tunnels aimed at us rather than in building a society.
This despite the fact that in the laws of international war, proportionality has nothing to do with comparative firepower or comparative death tolls. The doctrine of proportionality has to do with using only that force necessary to achieve a legitimate war objective.
Destroying missile-launching sites and tunnels designed to kill and maim civilians is a legitimate war objective. Whether or not Israel’s use of force was proportionate to accomplishing that objective is a matter of legitimate inquiry. Discussion of comparative firepower and comparative deaths is simply digression at best, undermining of Israel’s ability to defend itself at worst.
Israelis are all for Gazans having a thriving society. Build airports, seaports, resorts, industry. It would only be good for them and for us. But they cannot have open borders and free ports and airports as long as Hamas or others would use such assets to rebuild tunnels and replenish missile supplies. Estimates are that 40% of Gaza’s budget, primarily aid from the world, went toward infrastructure for war against innocent Israelis rather than for building Gaza as supposedly intended by the donors.