The notion of proportional response stems from misunderstanding. Punishments are only statistically proportional.

Years in prison is clearly disproportional to the harm a particular tax evader does to society. Shooting a petty thief who tries to escape from prison is out of proportion to his crime. The concept that no one should be singled out for prosecution is wrong. In practice, societies always use punishment to drive home an example to criminals. Not all offenders can be caught, and not all offenses can be feasibly investigated. Societies punish to discourage repetition statistically. Crime must be statistically unprofitable. A single offense for which the offender is sentenced must wipe out his profits from a string of offenses. When only a few members of his trade are routinely caught, such as happens with tax evaders, one harsh exemplary punishment discourages other takers.

The concept of statistical punishment is clear in the Bible: thieves have to restore two to five times the particular damage. They are not caught every time they steal, and an absolute tit-for-tat punishment would make their trade profitable.

When only a few instances of the particular crime can be feasibly prosecuted, sentences have to be notably disproportional to discourage those not yet caught.

The other factor is statistical justice. Societies cannot achieve absolute justice. Tightening the rules of evidence lets many criminals escape on technicalities. Then they harm innocent people.

It is not good to let ten criminals go to avoid punishing a single innocent person. Ten criminals will harm dozens of innocents.

The acceptable ratio of wrong sentences depends on the severity of the crime. The more harm an acquitted criminal might inflict, the less society can afford to spare him on a technicality. A wrongly acquitted tax evader will be scared into paying taxes, but a wrongly acquitted murderer will murder again, and a spared terrorist will kill many more. Heinous crimes call for loose rules of evidence. Sentencing innocents is unavoidable if society wants to protect the majority.

Individual punishment works only inside groups, and so the Bible says children bear no guilt for their parents. Among nations, individual judgment is impossible, and so the Bible judges nations as single bodies. Israel cannot put every Lebanese villager on trial to establish his connection to the guerillas.

The standards of guilt are different in peacetime and war. Merely tolerating criminals is not a crime. Tolerating and hosting people whose goal is killing Israelis is a capital offense.

Individually disproportional retaliation is reasonable and ethical. Ben Gurion explicitly formulated the Israeli doctrine of disproportionate response, and it served Israel well for decades. It terrified our enemies and proved efficient at prevention. Disproportionate retaliation cannot prevent major wars, just like punishment does not discourage high-stakes crime. Harsh retaliation discourages volunteers from joining the guerillas and the population from supporting them.

Stop inventing proportional responses. Just be efficient.