In recent years, Israel has been accused of using 'disproportionate force' against terrorists who openly vow to destroy her.
While international law on warfare is complex, one thing is clear: Proportionality does not require a nation at war to use the same weapons as its enemy, nor simply to keep that enemy at arm’s distance.
When a state is attacked, it has the right not only to defend its citizens, but also to prevent the attacker from repeating the act—and in fact to defeat that enemy decisively.
Any notion, which some critics of Israel seem to harbor, that a nation must defend itself using weapons equally as effective—or ineffective—as those of its enemies is absurd.
While warfare inevitably creates civilian casualties, Hamas increased deaths and injuries to its people by using them as human shields.
Beneath the populous Gaza City neighborhood of Shajaiya, for example, Hamas created a warren of underground bunkers and tunnels where its rocket-making equipment, weapons-storage facilities and rocket-launching sites were hidden.
Hamas also embedded military command headquarters there. In order for Israel to fight back against missiles built, aimed and shot from this neighborhood,
Arab civilians were endangered, and no doubt many died unnecessarily.
Hamas’ mingling of terror forces with civilians was meant to enhance its public relations leverage against Israel, but this strategy—which itself is a war crime—no doubt dramatically increased the Palestinian death toll.
The IDF used tactics uncommon in modern wars to protect innocents from harm. In fact, even after Israel warned Arab civilians of impending attacks, it sent drones overhead to ensure that occupants had left their buildings.
Israel took these precautions not because they are required by international law—they are not—but because the Jewish state is a bastion of humanitarian values, unlike its Islamist enemies, who frequently claim they love death as infidels love life.
In fact, Israel’s scrupulous prevention of civilian deaths has been emulated by the United States in its battles against ISIS in Iraq.
U.S. Air Force General Peter Gersten recently revealed that Americans seeking to take out terrorists embedded in civilian areas of Mosel were now using the “knock on the roof” technique invented by Israel.
About the IDF’s conduct in Gaza, U.S. General Martin Dempsey, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in November 2014, lauded Israel for taking “extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties.”
When a nation is fighting barbaric terrorists who target civilians with their weapons and then thrust their own citizens in harm’s way—as Hamas and ISIS do—it’s almost impossible to avoid civilian deaths.
Clearly it is the terrorists who are to blame for committing war crimes and using disproportionate force.