Bombardment of Gaza Continues;So Do the Rockets (Updated)
The Israeli bombardment of Hamas sites in Gaza continued today:
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israel bombed a mosque it claimed was used to store weapons and destroyed homes of more than a dozen Hamas operatives Friday, but under international pressure, the government allowed hundreds of Palestinians with foreign passports to leave besieged Gaza.
Israel has been building up artillery, armor and infantry on Gaza’s border in an indication the week-old air assault against Gaza’s Hamas rulers could imminently expand with a ground incursion. At the same time, however, international pressure is building for a cease-fire that would block more fighting.
as didthe rocket attacks on Israeli cities from the Palestinian side:
A rocket barrage hit the Israeli city of Ashkelon early Friday. Two rockets hit apartment buildings, lightly wounding two Israelis, police said. Sirens warning Israelis to take cover when military radar picks up an incoming rocket have helped reduce casualties in recent days.
The military said aircraft destroyed the three rocket launchers used to fire at Ashkelon.
I don’t have a solution to the problems between the Israelis and Palestinians; I wish I did. I don’t think that the resolution is as simple as Hamas stopping the firing of rockets and mortars into Israeli territory; for one thing, I don’t think that Hamas has that much control over the situation. When as many munitions pour into anywhere as they’ve poured into Gaza for as long as they have, asserting control over every rocket and every mortar is a daunting task.
I don’t think, as some apparently do that the mere ineffectiveness of the rocket attacks is any sort of excuse for them. For one thing, they provide practice and if the guys firing the rockets get ahold of more potent weapons the Israeli body count is sure to go up. The Israelis must respond in proportion to their risk rather than in proportion to their losses.
I honestly don’t think there’s a solution to the larger picture at all in the sense of an engineered solution that everybody is happy with. But let’s try a thought experiment. Let’s say that the Palestinians stopped firing rockets and mortars into Israeli territory and Israelis no longer had anything to fear from Palestinian suicide bombers. What would happen next?
Contrariwise let’s imagine that the Israelis pulled back to the 1967 boundaries. What would happen next?
In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal Alan Dershowitz makes the same point I did above:
The claim that Israel has violated the principle of proportionality — by killing more Hamas terrorists than the number of Israeli civilians killed by Hamas rockets — is absurd. First, there is no legal equivalence between the deliberate killing of innocent civilians and the deliberate killings of Hamas combatants. Under the laws of war, any number of combatants can be killed to prevent the killing of even one innocent civilian.
Second, proportionality is not measured by the number of civilians actually killed, but rather by the risk posed. This is illustrated by what happened on Tuesday, when a Hamas rocket hit a kindergarten in Beer Sheva, though no students were there at the time. Under international law, Israel is not required to allow Hamas to play Russian roulette with its children’s lives.
The emphasis is mine.
That’s basic just war theory.