Gastbeitrag von Maor Shani
I’ve decided that it’s time to systematically refute the “disproportionate reaction” argument once and for all and build the case for Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza. I hope you have the energy to read and that you would find my arguments convincing enough.
1. Let’s first understand the context – Israel left the Gaza Strip in August 2005 and does not constitute an occupying force in that area. There is currently only one Israeli soldier in Gaza – his name is Gilad Shalit. He was kidnapped by Hamas from Israel’s territory in 2006 and since then no one has heard from him.
2. The Gaza Strip since the summer of 2005 is a non-state region taken hostage by a militant radical Islamist group. Since Hamas ultimately fights for the destruction of Israel (take a look at its Charta to verify), Israel should not negotiate with Hamas, and it is in fact obligated to refrain from any contact with the organization. That includes closing the crossings between the Gaza Strip and Israel. While this would be justified, Israel continues to provide services and resources to the Palestinians in Gaza despite the fact that it is being ruled by a hostile entity.
2. Hamas has fired more than 6,000 rockets on Israeli civilians in the last 3 years, while having no official excuse like “fighting the Israeli occupation”, which has ended in 2005. Israel, unlike what many Israeli spokesmen like to say, does not have the right to defend its citizens from those rockets – it must defend its citizens from any external threat on their lives and their daily routine. Again, it is not a right- it’s a duty.
3. After establishing that Israel must act against Hamas – let’s review the conditions of the latter’s actions: Hamas is not an official state’s army, but an internationally recognized terror organization. Its people are civilians in Gaza, operating within a civilian population. The rockets are held in storage within civilian private and public places, and are often launched from these areas directly at Israeli communities.
4. If Israel is to attack Hamas, as an act of self defense, it becomes clear that there will be civilian casualties on the Palestinian side. They are clearly, however, not the target. Not only that the Israeli army does not aim at attacking civilians, it also invests milliards of dollars in developing and purchasing technologies that will minimize civilian collateral damage and will allow an accurate hit on military-terrorist targets. In fact, the Israeli army makes more efforts to refrain from civilian casualties than any other army in the world, and that is why Palestinian civilian casualties in Israeli military actions have constituted so far less than 5% of the total number of casualties.
5. A common accusation that comes even from those who do understand all the above is that Israel attacks the Palestinian terrorists “disproportionately”. For instance, in the current war against Hamas it is given that Israel has killed more than 300 Palestinians, while only 4 Israelis died from Hamas’ rocket attacks on Israel. Here I would like to make three points:
5.1. Proportionality is not measured by the outcome but rather by the intention. Every single rocket Hamas fires on Israel is meant to cause civilian casualties. However, Israeli air and ground attacks against Hamas are meant to cause as less damage as possible to civilians, and as much damage as possible to the terrorists. The optimal result for Israel would be 100% Palestinian militant casualties, while Hamas’ optimal result is 100% Israeli civilian casualties.
5.2. 6,000 rockets Hamas fired on Israelis can result in dozens of thousands of Israeli civilian casualties. This is not the case not because Hamas doesn’t want to target so many Israelis – but simply because Israel protects the potential victims. People in the city of Sderot, near the border with Gaza, which is being attacked by Hamas for almost 8 years now, are sitting in shelters and protected areas when Hamas fires rockets on the city. They go to school with protection from rockets, play in secured playgrounds, and receive a 15 seconds alarm before a rocket is about to explode. This point should be as clear as possible – there were “only” 4 dead Israelis from Hamas’ rockets in recent days because all the people who live in the range of the rockets (around half million people now) sit in shelters and are protected when Rockets are being launched.
5.3. Israel response, it can therefore be said, is indeed disproportionate. A proportionate response, if that’s Israel’s aim, would be to fire 6,000 rockets directly at civilians in Gaza. If these civilians sit in Shelters like their Israeli counterparts, there would be much less Palestinian casualties. This is of course not the case – Israel does not target civilians, since its aim is not to “get even” with the Palestinians – but to remove the threat of Hamas on Israeli civilians, a threat that has made the life of half million Israelis unbearable for such a long time.
6. In conclusion, I would like you to ask yourself, how is it that in Israeli attacks on Hamas’ headquarters in Gaza there are civilian casualties? What are civilians doing in a place from which rockets are being fired? And why aren’t they protected by Hamas the same way that Israeli citizens are protected by Israel when rockets explode? When you understand the answer to these questions, you will understand the reason for civilian casualties in the current war.