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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Israel has to respond 'disproportionately' to rockets on Sderot

In yesterday's Wall Street Journal, Bret Stephens did a brilliant job of showing why Israel's only real option in Gaza is a 'disproportionate' one (Hat Tip: Israpundit):
The more vexing question, both morally and strategically, is what Israel ought to do about Gaza. The standard answer is that Israel's response to the Kassams ought to be "proportionate." What does that mean? Does the "proportion" apply to the intention of those firing the Kassams -- to wit, indiscriminate terror against civilian populations? In that case, a "proportionate" Israeli response would involve, perhaps, firing 2,500 artillery shells at random against civilian targets in Gaza. Or should proportion apply to the effects of the Kassams -- an exquisitely calibrated, eye-for-eye operation involving the killing of a dozen Palestinians and the deliberate maiming or traumatizing of several hundred more?

Surely this isn't what advocates of proportion have in mind. What they really mean is that Israel ought to respond with moderation. But the criteria for moderation are subjective. Should Israel pick off Hamas leaders who are ordering the rocket attacks? The European Parliament last week passed a resolution denouncing the practice of targeted assassinations. Should Israel adopt purely economic measures to punish Hamas for the Kassams? The same resolution denounced what it called Israel's "collective punishment" of Palestinians. Should Israel seek to dismantle the Kassams through limited military incursions? This, too, has the unpardonable effect of resulting in too many Palestinian casualties, which are said to be "disproportionate" to the number of Israelis injured by the Kassams.

By these lights, Israel's presumptive right to self-defense has no practical application as far as Gaza is concerned. Instead, Israel is counseled to allow goods to flow freely into the Strip, and to negotiate a cease-fire with Hamas.

But here another set of considerations intrudes. Hamas was elected democratically and by overwhelming margins in Gaza. It has never once honored a cease-fire with Israel. Following Israel's withdrawal of its soldiers and settlements from the Strip in 2005 there was a six-fold increase in the number of Kassam strikes on Israel.


It would seem perverse for Israeli taxpayers, including residents of Sderot, to feed the mouth that bites them. It would seem equally perverse for Israel merely to bide its time for an especially unlucky day -- a Kassam hitting a busload of schoolchildren, for instance -- before striking hard at Gaza. But unless Israel is willing to accept the military, political and diplomatic burdens of occupying all or parts of Gaza indefinitely, the effects of a major military incursion could be relatively short-lived. Israel suffered many more casualties before it withdrew from the Strip than it has since.

Perhaps the answer is to wait for a technological fix and, in the meantime, hope for the best. Israel is at work on a missile-defense program called "Iron Dome" that may be effective against Kassams, though the system won't be in place for at least two years. It could also purchase land-based models of the Phalanx Close-In Weapons System, used by the U.S. to defend the Green Zone in Baghdad.

But technology addresses neither the Islamic fanaticism that animates Hamas nor the moral torpor of Western policy makers and commentators who, on balance, find more to blame in Israel's behavior than in Hamas's. Nor, too, would an Iron Dome or the Phalanx absolve the Israeli government from the necessity of punishing those who seek its destruction. Prudence is an important consideration of statesmanship, but self-respect is vital. And no self-respecting nation can allow the situation in Sderot to continue much longer, a point it is in every civilized country's interest to understand.
Read the whole thing - the last line is a killer (especially for those with a feel for American history).

In the long term, there is no way to give the residents of Sderot a normal life other than having the IDF be in Gaza. We've seen that time and time again. But IDF casualties don't have to be higher if we're willing to put a priority on protecting our soldiers instead of the willing human shields that protect the terrorists. The Geneva Convention allows us to do that. And Hamas doesn't fight like a conventional army.

Of course, that's something that the Olmert-Barak-Livni junta will never do, and that's why there's so much opposition to going into Gaza on anything other than a very short-term basis. The choices Olmert leaves us are - God forbid - to let civilians die in Sderot (eventually - it's just a matter of time) or to let soldiers be killed in Gaza (almost a certainty if an invasion happens and the IDF prioritizes protecting 'civilians' who are acting as human shields). That's a Hobson's choice if I ever heard one, but one that is going to have to be made if we are to have any chance of giving Sderot peace and quiet. Alternatively, we might 'evacuate' Sderot like we did with Gaza, and wait to see where we are attacked next. Olmert might like that option better.


At 11:44 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 11:45 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Israeli governments have since the original Lebanon War, become risk averse in terms of casualties. Here's the historical irony: a country that at independence lost 1% of its Jewish population under dire straits is now unwilling to risk a single casualty under conditions of both qualitative and quantitative superiority over the enemy.

The enemy has noticed this Israeli sensitivity and has taken full of advantage of Israel's lack of interest in using her military might to improve the quality of living for her citizens. Indeed, the very first impulse among Israeli elites these days is to buy time by surrendering to the enemy's demands.

No self-respecting country can continue down that road and Israel can't. Sooner or later, something will have to give.

At 1:28 PM, Blogger VinceP1974 said...

I think you know what the answer is.

One day the Jewish people will have to make a choice.. either they choose to live or choose to die. It's not your fault. Pure evil is fighting against you ... it has no rules.. it will never stop.

Hold onto your faith in G*d and take strength in knowing fighting evil is not evil and do what you have to do. And when it is done, show the world, the Jewsish people choose to live.

At 4:24 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Disproportionate force must be used. There is no other choice.

This war has not been allowed to have been won since its start by the arabs more than 60 years ago. Unless and until the military victory is complete and uncontested, political solution will not be possible.

Political solution that does not involve capitulation to the losers. Israel needs to dictate terms. Not negotiate. 'Palestinians' need to understand that they are being dictated terms of their surrender, and that failure to accept them will result in the rapid and intense prosecution of a hot shooting war. One in which they are going to lose. Badly.

A sensible leadership would immediately examine the options, see no way out, and start negotiations.

The 'palis' do not have sensible leadership. They never had. Looking at the arab world, they never will either.

The only way to end the violence decades from now is to cause enough pain that the leaders of today finally agree to a peace. It doesn't matter if their honor is preserved, they lost that decades ago. They have shamed themselves with their duplicity and cowardly attacks on civilians, and their undeclared hot war.

Respond in kind with *massive* and disproportionate force.

Israel needs to send a message. A very clear message.

Not a surgical strike. The tumor has metastasized and the only way to save the patient immediate high amuptation, not biopsy.

Until Israel gets a leader with the balls to do this, and not a lefty peacenik, clueless enough to believe that 'palis' really want peace, this bloodshed will continue.

Either win the war, lose the war. Defecate or get off the can already Israel.

At 4:33 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


I would argue that the aversion to casualties goes back to the Yom Kippur War, although it clearly intensified after "Operation Peace for Galilee."


Exactly my point. I think we have to make that choice now. The problem is that the moonbats currently in power may choose to let the rest of us die, God forbid.


I'm still waiting to see that leader. I used to think it might be Yaalon. But I saw an article by him over the weekend that has given me pause. I will try to find the time to blog it.

At 11:35 PM, Blogger VinceP1974 said...

"Exactly my point. I think we have to make that choice now. The problem is that the moonbats currently in power may choose to let the rest of us die, God forbid. "

Aint this the truth! And not just in Israel but everywhere. I'm basically hopeless, I dont see any way that things will be turned around unless there's a history-changing amount of violence to force a resolution.


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