tel aviv graffiti

Icon

writing on the walls of the white city.

Israel's "Disproportionate Response”

The problem is that the concept of “proportionality” is an overly simplistic way of judging Israel’s response. Yes, the collateral damage is much higher and number of civilian casualties are probably much higher too (I say probably because aside from old ladies and children, no one can really tell the
difference between a Hezbala terrorist and a civilian).
Proportionality also isn’t a meaningful concept in war – when you’re at war, especially if you’re Israel, you’re there to win. You’re not there to take unnecessary risks and handicap yourself so that your response will be closer-aligned to the military inferiority of your attacker. I think what has many of Israel’s critics smarting isn’t the idea of proportionality, but the idea of punitiveness.

The notion that Israel is doing the amount of damage we’re doing in order to punish the Lebanese people for tolerating/supporting Hezbala or in order to use these civilians as sacrificial lambs to send a warning to Syria and Iran are distasteful military objectives and there is definitely defensible argument that it’s just not worth the cost.

However, there are other problems that need to be considered here. Problems that aren’t readily obvious from the images broadcast on CNN. Those who are responsibly devoted to the quality of the discourse must consider these facts before jumping to the “disproportionate response” conclusion.
I will outline some of these problems here:

1. Hezbala’s objective is to transport the kidnapped soldiers to Iran in order to prevent Israel from rescuing them. I don’t think I need to go into the consequences to a Jewish soldier of winding up in captivity in Iran (but let’s just say that there are things much worse than death) or the danger Israel faces by allowing terrorists to use kidnapping Israeli soldiers as a means to their ends.
Israel needed to block the exits – despite the apparent extremity of this course of action. And the IAF did it in a way as to minimize casualties. They called the airport in advance and warned them to evacuate. They took out runways, not the airport itself. Bridges were bombed specifically at times when the traffic was as light as possible and leaflets were dropped warning civilians in the area to evacuate ahead of strikes on Hezbala infrastructure.

2. Hezbala deliberately sets up their rocket launchers inside civilian areas. The bombs dropped by Israeli planes have cameras on them. The tapes are shown at IDF spokespan’s press briefings nearly every day. If you saw where they put the  launchers, you might feel sick with rage. This is a terribly difficult problem,
however given that those rockets are aimed at Israeli towns, it is Hezbala giving the IAF the ultimatum “our civilians or yours” – any pilot who sees 15 rockets pointed at Haifa has to bomb them regardless of what is near the launcher, or he may as well go to Haifa and take out an apartment block himself.


3. Israel has no choice but to try to eliminate Hezbala. This is where you might want to bring in the idea of proportionality: Options. They have many, we don’t. If Hezbala would stop attacking Israel’s northern border and give back those two soldiers, they could live out the rest of their days without seeing another IDF uniform.
We, on the other hand are out of options. Past prisoner swaps have led to more attacks. Withdrawal from territory has led to more attacks. We have no way of incenting peace, and so the only available option is to remove Hezbala’s ability to fire rockets at Israeli towns and cities.

This is a war that Hezbala started. Hezbala holds a full hand of cards when it comes to ways to end it. We have one. How disproportionate.

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Filed under: Israel

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