PROPORTIONAL WARFARE? … Israel’s Response to Terrorism
For the first time since the latest Israeli/Palestinian conflict erupted in early July, Hamas held to its side of a (72-hour) cease-fire. Israel had every right to reject this or any cease-fire for at least two reasons: (1) Hamas’ track record of cease-fire violations; (2) Israel had not completely finished their primary objective of destroying the cross-border tunnels and as many weapon sites as possible. In that respect, a cease-fire only benefits the terrorists, giving them the opportunity to move their weapons and use what tunnels are left to infiltrate Israel for their “tunnel vision” resolution of killing Jews.
In last week’s article, we looked at the appalling misuse of Moral Equivalency by Israel’s enemies and by leaders of nations and ethnic groups who shamelessly distort Israel’s right of self-defense by comparing such right to Hitler’s depraved campaign of genocide against the Jews, forever known as the Holocaust. To the contrary, it would be immoral for a country not to take tough measures to protect its citizens.
Last week’s and this week’s Eye of Prophecy articles are just two of several columns written by responsible journalists and commentators who are compelled to refute the twisted logic of so many, whose seemingly main purpose in life is to denigrate and demonize Israel. Whether such reporting has created a more balanced perspective on the volatile issue of Moral Equivalency remains to be seen. However, it does seem that some of the more rational “moderate” leaders have begun to recognize, albeit reluctantly, Israel’s moral right to protect her citizens from indiscriminate and deadly terrorist’s attacks.
But even these so-called moderates won’t let a day go by without promoting a second common component of the Moral Equivalency formula … what might be called a Plan B or a back-up strategy. The second element of Moral Equivalency is that of Disproportionate Response … meaning Israel’s military intervention must be restrained and/or in direct proportion (or even a lesser proportion) to the actions of the terrorists.
For example, US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have advised Israel to use “restraint” in their military reaction to terrorism. Likewise, the majority of national and international leaders, journalists, and social pundits have demanded that Israel not only use restraint, but that Israel’s response be precisely proportional to the terrorist’s attacks. Of course, none of them dare to define or quantify this proportional restraint … how much, how often, how long! Why would they? How could they? To do so would mean acknowledgment that if their own people were attacked in such manner, they would categorically deny the right of anyone else telling them how much retaliation and restraint is enough.
Since this war began, there have been hundreds, if not thousands, of articles written, media discussions via radio and television, and editorialized in general throughout the world. A fairly recent debate head-lined as A Moral dilemma in the Viewpoints section of The Arizona Republic (a newspaper I subscribe to) published on July 27, 2014—about three weeks into the Israel/Hamas war—is a representative cross-section example of world-wide arguments over the nature and extent of Israel’s war-related conduct.
In one corner was journalist Farley Weiss; the headlines on his side of the Point/Counterpoint read, Hamas’ continuous attacks on civilians justify Israeli incursion.
In the other corner sat Bishara A. Bahbah, whose column was headlined, Israel must pull back from invasion that is killing Gaza innocents.
Farley Weiss: “Israel following its 2005 unilateral disengagement from Gaza, thought they were leaving the Palestinian Authority in control but, after winning an election, Hamas took control. The people of Gaza elected in Hamas a leadership committed to Israel’s destruction. Recently the Palestinian Authority unified with Hamas and has kept that unity throughout this Hamas attack on Israel.”
*Note: As I have indicated periodically in past Eye of Prophecy articles, there is no Israeli “occupation” of the Gaza Strip. Even prior to 2005, there were only a few Jewish settlements in Gaza. Then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon closed down all Jewish settlements and relocated those displaced Jews throughout Israel proper. The Palestinian Authority (headed by Mahmoud Abbas headquartered in the West Bank) was forced to relinquish authority to Hamas in the Gaza Strip soon after the Jewish settlements were dismantled. These two quasi-governmental entities claim exclusive right to represent the Palestinians in Israel. Although their differences are legion, the primary distinction is that one (Hamas) is more radical and violent in its ideology and methods; whereas the other (Palestinian Authority) will ostensibly seek diplomatic solutions. However, both agencies have clearly demonstrated a mutual mindset and goal: The destruction or dissolution of the State of Israel.
Bishara Bahbah: “This war has brought to light several observations: This is not a proportionate tit-for-tat war. It is a disproportionate fight between Hamas which lobs what everyone calls “rockets” and what I call oversize Chinese fireworks. Secretary of State John Kerry criticized what Israel’s prime minister described as a ‘pin-point operation’ by stating, ‘It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation.’”
*Note: Obviously Bahbah quoted Kerry’s sarcastic suggestion to prove his point that the death of Palestinian “civilians” would not be occurring at all; if, in fact, Israeli was accomplishing their “pin-point” selective bombing of terrorist’s targets. And, of course, Bahbah capitalized on Kerry’s unwarranted comment by slinging his own version of the proportional war mentality prevalent throughout the world. It appears that Kerry conveniently overlooked the numerous civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan caused by “pin-point” selective targets of American missile strikes that went awry, resulting in several friendly fire casualties and/or death of Iraqi and Afghan civilians.
By no stretch of the imagination am I criticizing the US military mistakes during the Iraqi War and the still ongoing conflict in Afghanistan. In fact, our military does everything possible to prevent civilian casualties, no less than Israel does. In fact, Israel goes much farther than does the United States. They announce ahead of time to the civilian population exactly where the strikes will take place, with enough time for the civilians to evacuate.
Moreover, if these rockets launched by Hamas are only “Chinese firecrackers” then I’d hate to be hit by a “real missile.” Fact: These rockets can inflict substantial damage. Fact: The main problem for Hamas is not the firepower of the missiles, rather it’s their “aim.” Fact: Even when their aim is accurate, often their target structures are empty or the missile lands just far enough away to preclude serious damage or casualties.
I believe there are two other significant factors: (1) the ability through almost daily practice (both drills and actual rocket attacks) of the Jews to seek shelter in just the few seconds allotted to them before the missile strikes. (2) The periodic intervention of God, perhaps through angels, to protect his people, the Jews. Scripture and history is replete with events in which God chooses to miraculously rescue his people (both Jews and Christians). Why the Lord doesn’t do this all the time is a question that will never be answered this side of eternity. Except to say that one day all evil will be eradicated and Jesus Christ will rule and reign with complete justice, righteousness, and peace. Until that time, we must concede to his perfect plan and perfect timing in execution of that plan.
Bahbah: “This war waged by a Middle East democracy had killed more than 800 people and wounded about 5,000 Palestinians. On Israel’s side, at least 35 soldiers were killed in addition to three civilians.”
*Note: At the time of this Eye of Prophecy article, the Palestinian fatalities are a little over 1,900; with the Israeli death toll of 64 soldiers and three civilians. Did you catch his phrase: “This war waged by a Middle East democracy.” As though the war was started and unilaterally carried on/out by Israel. Yet, the unfairness of Bahbah’s statement is endorsed by numerous journalists, broadcasters, and heads of state … especially ambassadors to the United Nations.
Farley Weiss: “It is as astonishing as it is disheartening to hear the frequent criticisms directed to Israel’s response. Many have called on Israel to exercise either proportionality or restraint despite the unyielding and indiscriminate missile attacks on it civilians. Which brings the question: Should a nation defending itself do so in a manner where its casualties are expected to equal those against whom they retaliate … or condemned simply because its capability to administer punishment exceeds that of the belligerent who initiated the hostility? Of course not! Only the intellectually dishonest would suggest that a nation whose children are kidnapped and murdered may respond to their murderers only ‘moderately.’ Especially, when but for the response many more of their children would be murdered.”
More Proportional Pros and Cons
One of the morally and intellectually absurd indictments against Israel for violation of Palestinians rights and/or disproportionate retaliation also extends to the United States for not equally providing a high-tech deterrent system to the “governing authority” in Gaza … meaning Hamas. This convoluted logic referred to Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system (the US heavily contributed to the design and funding of Iron Dome).
Listen to the words of UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay: “They have not only provided the heavy weaponry which is not being used by Israel in Gaza but they’ve also provided almost $1 billion in providing the Iron Dome to protect the Israelis from rocket attacks. But no such protection has been provided to Gazans against the shelling.” Surprisingly, she makes two allowances: that Israel is not using “heavy weaponry” provided by the US against Gaza and also that Israel is, in fact, being subjected to rocket attacks (from Gaza).
But these concessions are rendered meaningless by her preposterous demand that Gaza be supplied with equivalent protection. It’s not enough that the Israelis provide advance warning of terrorist targets to allow Gazan civilians to flee harm’s way. Ms. Pillay (and others that share her twisted views) demand equal opportunity funded protection for Gaza, which obviously includes Hamas.
Next, is a more balanced editorial view of the issues:
Read with me an excerpt of an editorial written by Richard Kemp for The Gatestone Institute on-line news site, published August 3rd. Kemp’s article was written generally to expose the incessant unfounded indictment of Israel’s conduct in this war, and specifically to counter biased inflammatory comments disguised as interview questions from a reporter who asked an Israeli IDF spokesperson: “So are you going after innocent civilians or is it incompetence Colonel Lerner?”
Richard Kemp replied: “To suggest that military incompetence is the only explanation for civilian deaths other than deliberate mass murder reveals a breathtaking but unsurprising ignorance of the realities of combat. Although rarely allowed to complete so much as a single sentence (Kemp is referring to interviews of Israeli military and political officials), Israeli attempt to explain IDF targeting policies are inevitably dismissed as laughable fabrication.”
*Note: If someone is going to argue for a proportionally conducted war, then why don’t reporters express some measure of gratitude that Israel allows far more interviews of their officials than does Hamas or the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank? In fact, at great risk, a handful of responsible journalists have leaked information that Hamas has threatened reporters if they write anything whatsoever negative about Hamas’ conduct in this war.
Kemp goes on to say: “The truth is very different. The IDF has developed the most comprehensive and sophisticated measures to minimize civilian casualties during attacks against legitimate military targets. Mandatory multi-sensor intelligence and surveillance systems to confirm the presence or absence of civilians precede attacks on every target from the air. Text messages, phone calls and radio messages in Arabic warn occupants to leave. Air-dropped leaflets include maps showing safe areas. When warnings go unheeded, aircraft drop non-lethal explosives to warn that an attack is imminent … When pilots use laser-guided munitions they must have pre-designated safe areas to divert the missiles in flight should civilians suddenly appear.”
I’ve noticed one glaring irony of Israel’s morally proportionate strategy to prevent Palestinian civilian casualties: Hamas also has time to remove themselves and their weapons. Thus, neither the terrorist nor their weaponry is taken out … mission failed. Not entirely: There is one less building or area from which to launch terrorist’s missiles. Yes, that also includes Palestinian homes, but Hamas frequently uses these homes and their own people who live in the houses to store weapons and launch rockets from the roofs and backyards of these dwellings. It’s also apparent that Hamas terrorists are not always at the place where they store their weapons; however, the civilians that occupy those homes or shops or mosques wouldn’t dare remove the weapons without Hamas’ permission. Hence, sometimes the mission is accomplished by taking out a missile launcher or two.
Of course, mistakes happen. Surveillance and intelligence is never 100% guaranteed. It is a known and morally acceptable premise of war: Civilians are killed in battle. I certainly am not making light of civilian death and injuries during war. It is, indeed, tragic. But what army on the face of the earth would simply lay down their arms and refuse to defend their country because their enemy suffered civilian casualties?
In fact, both terrorist organizations like Hamas and governments that support such terrorism, like Iran, classify all of their targets (primarily Israelis) as soldiers. In this warped view, there is no distinction between civilian and military personnel. Evidently, this enables them to rationalize any and all terrorist strikes against innocent people. Both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have made public statements that the three kidnapped and murdered teenage boys were soldiers! (These brutal killings was the catalyst that started this current conflict). None of these boys were in the IDF; in fact, two of them were not old enough to be drafted.
Now a quote from another of Israel’s critics, Eugene Robinson. “First is the tremendous loss of human life. It matters that civilians are in the line of fire between Israel and Hamas—even if, in some instances, it seems clear that Hamas put them there … But while it is not possible to specify an exact number of acceptable Palestinian casualties, that number has clearly been surpassed.” (Italics for emphasis).
A personal observation: Although I staunchly back Israel for several reasons, not the least of which is God’s unconditional support of the Jews and Israel, I will listen to the rhetoric of those who chastise and even condemn Israel; if, in fact, their arguments are rational and half-way logical—which they rarely are. Often, human viewpoint morality is in the eye of the beholder, which is why I enclose my own views in the context of God’s absolute truth found in the Bible. I will hear out Israel’s critics; primarily to see how they explain their world-view.
But what Robinson and many others like him are saying, is anything but logical or reasonable. To wit: If he’s going to adamantly insist on more proportional conduct from Israel by asserting that the number of Palestinian casualties, “has clearly been surpassed,” then he is morally and rationally compelled to give a precise number of those casualties. Otherwise, his argument is guilty of begging the question without so much as a hint of a possible answer … how many are too many? Is it 500 Palestinians killed, 1,000, 1,250, or 1,500? Whenever that “unknown” number is reached, does that mean that Israel has a moral obligation to stop what they’re doing, even though their military objectives haven’t been met? If the ratio between Israeli dead and Palestinian dead reaches a predetermined gap, is Israel required to send its troops home; thereby, allowing Hamas to continue attacks through tunnels and by continually firing rockets into Israel to even the score?
I do give him credit for acknowledging that Hamas deliberately puts Gazan civilians in harm’s way. But it’s that very concession that causes his logic to crumble like a house of cards. Meaning, how is it possible for Israel to strike back at the very terrorists who initiated this conflict, if there are civilians in front of and all around the Hamas fighters and their weaponry? With that mentality, Israel has no right whatsoever to fire a single shot or launch a single rocket at a building that clearly houses terrorists and their weapons.
Other Examples, Questions
Just a quick World War II example: Not only did the Allies recognize the obvious fact that civilians in Germany, Japan, and Italy would be unavoidable collateral casualties during all of the air and ground campaigns; they sometimes deliberately struck targets that were mostly civilian … with the rationale that the civilians were by and large in complete support of their troops and military endeavors. Thus, there was no warning before some of the most devastating attacks in the annals of warfare, ancient or modern: The Allies Carpet bombing of Dresden, Germany, of Tokyo, and the Atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki which brought an end to WW II.
What nation would order its military to stop firing until more of their own soldiers or civilians were killed to proportionally equalize the body count of their enemies. To, thereby, satisfy the demands of not only their enemies, but even their friends who suggested or implied that a more balanced casualty rate would make a just war even more just!
This is particularly true when it’s exceptionally challenging to differentiate between soldiers and civilians in the first place, such as in Iraq and in the Gaza Strip. The enemy doesn’t wear uniforms now days. For example, what terrorist would answer a question put to him by an Israeli soldier, “Are you Hamas or a civilian?” With the absurd answer, “I’m a terrorist; you can shoot me now.”
According to reliable sources/reports from both the Israelis and objective journalists and reporters who are not taking sides, more than half of the Palestinian fatalities have been young men who were clearly or ostensibly fighting for Hamas. This is in direct contradiction to Hamas reports that over 90% of Palestinian casualties have been civilians.
But the very fact that it’s tough for not only Israel but even the Palestinians themselves to differentiate between a true neutral unarmed civilian and a terrorist who has a civilian day job and by night fires missiles into Israel, makes it morally irresponsible to condemn Israel for a single civilian casualty. Should Israel do as much as is reasonably and practically possible to avoid “civilian” casualties? Of course they should. AND THEY DO!
Just a couple of days ago in one of his many news conferences, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu felt compelled to defend attacks against his nation’s conduct in the Gaza war. He said that his country’s actions were “justified” and “proportional.” According to USA Today,” he showed footage of Hamas firing mortars and operating from tunnels in civilian areas of Gaza near schools and mosques.”
Such a shame that Israel (or any nation whose cause of self-defense is objectively obvious to the whole world) must defend herself against a constant barrage of accusations that she is waging an unjust or disproportional war … all the while defending herself against a volley of deadly attacks from an immoral terrorist group.
Three thousand years ago under King David’s reign, Israel was the greatest nation on the face of the earth. And once again Israel will (soon) be the most prominent nation on earth, under the reign of none other than Messiah Jesus. Not because the Jews are innately better than anyone else, for God loves you, me, and all of us equally, including the Arabs!
Listen to the words of Moses just before the Hebrews were to enter the Promise Land so long ago, the same land that is now Israel … the same land that has been given to the Jews in perpetuity forever and ever. “After the Lord your God has done this for you, don’t say in your hearts, ‘The Lord has given us this land because we are such good people!’ No, it is because of the wickedness of the other nations that he is pushing them out of your way. It is not because you are so good or have such integrity that you are about to occupy their land… (Deuteronomy 9: 4-5).
But Moses also told the Hebrews (Jews), “The Lord did not set his heart on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other nations, for you were the smallest of all nations! Rather, it was simply that the Lord loves you, and he was keeping the oath he had sworn to your ancestors… Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commandments. But he does not hesitate to punish and destroy those who reject him” (Deuteronomy 7: 7-10, italics for emphasis). Indeed, God disciplined even Israel for her many sins by removing his protection; thus allowing Israel’s enemies to subjugate the Jews for most of 2,500 years.
God IS love, but he is also holy and just. All those who spiritually reject God’s love demonstrated by the awesome salvation provided to anyone who believes and receives his Son, Yeshua, have sentenced themselves to everlasting separation, Jew and Gentile alike, from El Elyon … The Most High God. (See John 3:18 & 3:36 … in fact, read the entire third chapter of John!)
Likewise, those who physically persist in their diabolical determination to destroy God’s chosen people and usurp control over the land promised to the Jews, must pay the price. There are hundreds of Scripture passages that dramatically depict the utter ruination of peoples and nations who dare to defy the true and living God by seeking to destroy the descendants of Abraham.
Israel was selected by God because they were God’s choice to bring blessings to all nations of the earth, through a Jewish Messiah. If anyone has a problem with that, then they need to take it up with God.
Just a little while before this article was to be posted (which now makes the article a little longer than anticipated!), I discovered the following story from one of my news sources. It’s an amazing example of what was said earlier in this article; that the Lord sometimes intervenes to protect … in this case, his special treasure and possession, Israel. Although the aforementioned Iron Dome has met or exceeded expectations, it is not a perfect system. It cannot intercept ALL incoming rockets/missiles nor does it hit its target 100% of the time. Estimates are 80-90%, if an intercepting Iron Dome missile is launched at all.
From several Israeli (in the Hebrew language) press sources, reports have surfaced of Hamas missiles miraculously changing course in mid-flight. One of the Iron Dome Commanders recently witnessed the “hand of God” divert an incoming rocket from a densely populated area of Tel Aviv.
These are his words: “A missile was fired from Gaza. Iron Dome precisely calculated (its trajectory). We know where these missiles are going to land down to a radius of 200 meters. This particular missile was going to hit either the Azrieli Towers, the Kirya (Israel’s equivalent of the Pentagon) or a central Tel Aviv railway station. Hundreds would have died. (Note: During my trip to Israel in 2006, I drove near all three of these locations … they, indeed, have a high concentration of people during the day).
“We fired the first (interceptor). It missed. Second (interceptor). It missed. This is very rare. I was in shock. At this point we had just four seconds until the missile lands. We had already notified emergency services to converge on the target location and had warned of a mass-casualty incident.
“Suddenly, Iron Dome (which calculates wind speeds, among other things) shows a major wind coming from the east, a strong wind that … sends the missile into the sea. We were all stunned. I stood up and shouted, ‘There is a God!’ I witnessed this miracle with my own eyes. It was not told or reported to me. I saw the hand of God send that missile into the sea.” (Italics for special emphasis).
Another Newsflash: Yesterday, just a short time after time ran out on the 72-hour cease-fire, Hamas fired more rockets into Israel, wounding two Israelis … one seriously.
Things to Ponder
Has anyone not heard of nor remember the mighty Exodus of God’s chosen people from Egypt? Especially the splitting of the Red Sea?
“Then Moses raised his hand over the sea, and the Lord opened up a path through the water with a strong east wind (Exodus 14:21, italics for mega-emphasis).
There is no defense system created by or known to man which can rival God’s personal defense of his people. Moreover, there is no defense scheme strong enough or a military mighty enough to achieve a (righteous) victory in war unless the true and living God is on their side. Yes, God does take sides. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalms 33:12).
“Tell everyone about God’s power. His majesty shines down on Israel; his strength is mighty in the heavens. God is awesome in his sanctuary. The God of Israel gives power and strength to his people. Praise be to God!” (Psalms 68: 34-35).
I’m compelled to repeat from last week’s Eye of Prophecy article, entitled Moral Equivalency:
Scripture is replete with prophetic promises that God in the last days would once again protect Israel from her enemies, and even fight for her. That day began in 1948 and was fully ratified in the Six-Day War of 1967. I suppose people could debate Moral Equivalency issues in the context of the Israeli/Palestinian ongoing conflict ad infinitum. Who’s right, who’s wrong; what’s right, what’s wrong? How much (self-defense) is enough? Israel … whose land is it?
The Bible is very clear as to who’s right and who’s wrong; what is just and what is unjust. Whose land it is because the Lord himself gave it to one people, and only one: The descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
According to Scripture, the time of debate is over.
Now it’s a matter of choice. From God’s perspective, it’s always been a matter of free will choice. Spiritually: To choose God’s marvelous plan of salvation through his Son, Jesus Christ, that will determine a person’s eternal destiny. Morally: To at least recognize, if not support Israel, chosen by God to bring salvation and blessing to the whole earth.
As one reader succinctly commented on last week’s Eye of Prophecy article: “I, for one, plan on being on the right side in this ultimate conflict.”
How about you? Care and dare to take sides?