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Proportionality is irrelevant

Posted By Obadiah Shoher On January 22, 2009 @ 9:24 am In Judea, Samaria, & Gaza | 6 Comments

Israel’s long-term inaction in face of terrorist attacks is incompatible with the idea of proportionality and restoration of status quo ante bellum. The situation immediately before the Israeli attack on Gaza is still unacceptable for Israel. During the days before the operation, Israel had indeed been struck with dozens of projectiles, but there were no casualties. Inflicting hundreds of casualties on Gazans would certainly be disproportional. Israel could include three years of Kassam attacks in its calculation of proportionality, but that’s both senseless and illegal.

If Israel didn’t counterattack in 2006, 2007, or for most of 2008, then surely the Kassam attacks were not worth a military operation. Some other country could have claimed inability to stop the attacks, but Israel, with one of the world’s strongest militaries, would have had no problem quashing the Palestinian guerrillas. Israeli inaction for three years in the face of rocket attacks has a single explanation in world opinion and the international legal system: the Kassams, as the Palestinians assert, amounted to mere harrassment, and were not a military affair. The issue of proportionality in the Israeli operation in Gaza is similar to a hypothetical nuclear attack on the Vatican for its support of the Nazis: too late. A true proportional response [1] would be striking Gaza, especially government buildings there, the same day that Kassams strike Israel—every day.

If Israeli retaliation against Gaza fails the legal test of proportionality, perhaps the ante bellum would do? Not really. Three years of not responding to Kassam launches created a new status quo, as Israel implicitly accepted being shelled, if at a low level. When you tolerate something for three years, you cannot suddenly change your mind and demand the restoration of a three-years-gone status quo.

Israel must deter the Palestinians from attacking her, but the government made our actions illegal and our response disproportional. Not that we care.

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[1] true proportional response: http://samsonblinded.org/blog/proportional-response-nonsense.htm