The Long and Short of ‘Proportionality’

At my church last Sunday the Israeli-Hamas conflict was referred to and the need for a “proportionate” response on the part of Israel. Later I commented in conversation that I thought that proportionality was “meaningless.” As is usual enough in impromptu to-and-fros, positions passed each other by shedding little light. I share the fault.

My fault occurred because I was conscious that proportionality was used by some as an anti-Israeli trope designed to keep Israel permanently besieged by its enemies. In that context, it’s akin to Nazi propaganda in my eyes. I’m jaundiced.

I wrote this in QoL in May 2018, when thousands from Gaza (innocent civilians?) urged on by Hamas were attempting to breach the border:

Does anyone with even half a brain not understand that blood would be flowing in the streets if Hamas terrorists managed to get into Israeli towns. I visited Sderot in November 2014. It is the closest Israeli town to the Gaza border. Twenty-eight thousand rockets had been fired at Sderot since 2000. I saw piles of shrapnel kept at a local police station…Barbarians are on their doorsteps and Ms Bishop calls on Israel to be proportionate. What does that mean exactly? Was Churchill proportionate enough for Bishop I wonder. Let me see. If Israel were to ever lose, millions of Israeli Jews would be tortured, enslaved and killed. Do the sums, designer-gowned empty-head!

As you can see, it’s hard for me to be dispassionate. But, of course, out of the context in which it is used to cudgel Israel, proportionality is a civilised and civilising principle. It “forbids attacks in which the expected incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects or any combination thereof would be excess in relation to the anticipated military advantage gained,” as The Hill recently put it.

In general, the rules of war (or, formally, International Humanitarian Law) set out what can and cannot be done during an armed conflict. Rules of engagement for combat forces follow from the rules of war. In a sense, rules of war come down to the avoidance of revenge or vengeance and, speaking for our Western Christian civilisation, to common decency. So, I support proportionality as a principle. And it would have been helpful if I’d said so in my conversation after church. At the same time, I still think it has little or no precise meaning in practice.

Here, clearly, I’m not talking about Hamas, where proportionality has no application; neither in principle nor practice. To call them barbarians is too kind. Those who rape women to death, who burn people alive, who deliberately kill children and babies are monsters not human beings. To think that they even consider operating within any rule of war is plainly ridiculous.

But back to civilised people, specifically to the Israelis. They have a problem. Hamas wants to kill them all. For example an article from its Charter, cites verbatim the canonical hadith of Al-Bukhari (Vol. 4, Book 52, Number 176):

In the last days Muslims will fight with Jews until some of them will hide behind stones. The stones will betray them saying, Slave of Allah, the is a Jew hiding behind me; kill him.

After the latest monstrous attack, Israel intends to destroy Hamas. To do otherwise would leave Israelis hostage to the inevitable next time. And it could be much worse. Is this unreasonable? If anyone thinks it is, they should simply imagine being in a situation in which their lawless neighbours are forever intent on raping, killing and defiling their womenfolk, beheading their babies and perpetrating any other sadistic acts which enter their poisoned minds at any tick of the clock. Okay then, that settled, how many civilian causalities would be proportionate?

As Hamas is adept at using non-combatants as shields – which is against the rules of war, by the way – what should the Israeli military forces do? Give up? Suppose winning the fight would result in tens of thousands of non-combatant casualties? Would that be disproportionate? I reckon if we asked ten people independently about what is proportionate they would come up with ten different answers. That’s why I think proportionality is a principal without much precision in practice. Certainly, in demanding that civilians are not specifically targeted as an end in itself, it guards against outright barbarism. But it says nothing definitive about just how careful an Israeli combatant has to be in a bombed-out building inhabited by terrorists firing weapons while hiding behind civilians.

Was Roosevelt’s response to Pearl Harbour proportionate? Was Truman justified in dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Japan might well have agreed to stop the war, but Truman wanted unconditional surrender. He faced the potential loss, on some estimates, of up to half a million US troops. It’s hypothetical. No one knows. What isn’t hypothetical is the loss of something upwards of 300,000 Japanese civilians, deliberately targeted, but with a military objective in mind. To wit, to end the war on US terms. And, therefore, the death of civilians was proportionate by the rules of war? Or was it? Clearly, people have different views. I have no doubt what the mothers of the US troops at risk would have concluded. Proportionality is not invariant to one’s stake in the game.

Civilised states should abide by the rules of war despite what uncivilised states do. At the same time, we better not hamstring ourselves or our allies by insisting on unreasonable, untenable and unrealisable measures of proportionality. Then only the bad guys win. Make no mistake, in Israel, that would mean Hamas and many Gazan “civilians” slaughtering the Jews; men, women, children, infants and and babies. No civilised niceties of proportionality would curb their bloodlust.


37 thoughts on “The Long and Short of ‘Proportionality’

  • Katzenjammer says:

    If Hamas still exists next year we will know Israel used the wrong proportion.

  • Peter OBrien says:

    Here’s a mystery. See if you can solve it. Recently a hospital in Gaza suffered a catastrophic explosion and about 500 people were killed. Two parties are helping police with their enquiries.
    On one hand we have Hamas who only a week or so ago deliberately (not indiscriminately) slaughtered over 1200 innocent men women and children, probably in an attempt to forestall some sort of peace accord between Israel and Saudi Arabia. They have a history of using their own people as human shields in order to bring down international condemnation on Israel when it responds to attacks.
    On the other hand we have Israel, which has always bent over backwards to avoid civilian casualties and which provides food water, power, medical support and employment to Gazans on a daily basis. It needs international support to survive and, in cooperation with the US, has held off invading Gaza while talks with middle east leaders including Mahmoud Abbas.
    Those talks have now been cancelled.
    You have to decide which is more likely. Israel risks further alienation by deliberately bombing a hospital, all the while refraining from unleashing hell on the rest of Gaza.
    Or, Hamas decides to do what it has always done, kill its own people, in order to scupper the peace talks.
    You would have to be Inspector Clouseau (or Antonio Gutterez) to indict Israel on the evidence available.
    In my mind the only doubt remaining was whether the Hamas rocket attack on the hospital was a mistake or deliberate.

    • rosross says:

      Israel has often targeted hospitals when it attacks Gaza and ambulances. We have that from international doctors and nurses working there from previous bombings of Gaza.

      No doubt if any of them survive we will hear their stories. And as I have seen from the Ukraine war, there are observers, official and unofficial, tracking missiles and it will not be difficult to prove the source of any which targeted the Christian hospital.

      It really is too easy, and a bit childish, to try to blame everything on Hamas.

      Let us remember the following:

      Israel occupies Palestine not the other way around.

      Israel created the Gaza prison and bombs it regularly to test its weapons.

      Israel refuses justice, freedom and human and civil rights to the Palestinians.

      Israel gave the green light to armed Jewish settlers to shoot Palestinians on sight in other parts of Occupied Palestine. Which they have done. More than 50 dead and two Palestinian villages ethnically cleansed. I would like to see you blame that one on Hamas.

      Israel practices collective punishment and always has done.

      Any reading of Israeli and international human rights groups makes that clear.

      • pmprociv says:

        Given how horrible Israel is, and Hamas should surely have known this, then why did Hamas choose to provoke such a predictable response, at this critical moment, knowing full well its civilians would suffer? Do you really think Hamas thought it was going to “win”? I don’t think that Hamas is as stupid or naive as you might believe.

    • rosross says:

      @Peter O’Brien,

      On a heartening note for those who believe in balanced, factual journalism, even the mainstream media it seems are not swallowing the ‘Hamas did it story.’


      After noting that Israel is blaming the blast on a failed rocket launch by Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), MSNBC foreign correspondent Raf Sanchez quickly pointed out that PIJ rockets don’t tend to do that kind of damage, but Israeli missiles do. He also noted that Israel has an extensive history of lying about this sort of thing.

      “The Israeli military at this point is not providing any evidence to back up its claims that this was a Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket; they are citing intelligence that they have not yet made public,” Sanchez said. “We should also say that this kind of death toll is not what you normally associate with Palestinian rockets. These rockets are dangerous, they are deadly, they do not tend to kill hundreds of people in a single strike in the way that Israeli high explosives — especially these bunker buster bombs that are used to target these Hamas tunnels under Gaza City — do have the potential to kill hundreds of people.”

      “And we should say finally that there are instances in the past where the Israeli military has said things in the immediate aftermath of an incident that have turned out not to be true in the long run,” Sanchez added. “And the one example I’ll give you is that when the Al Jazeera journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh, was killed in the occupied West Bank, the Israeli military initially said that she was killed by Palestinian gunmen, and it was only months and months later that they admitted that it was likely an Israeli soldier who fired the fatal shot.”

      CNN’s Clarissa Ward said essentially the same thing.

      “I will say, just based on seeing these rocket attacks many times over the years, that they don’t usually have an impact like that in terms of the size of the blast, in terms of the scale of the death toll and the scale of the damage,” Ward said. “It’s also not the first time, it’s important to add, that we have seen the IDF categorically deny something before being forced to kind of do an about-face after an extensive investigation.”

      BBC foreign correspondent Jon Donnison gave basically the same opinion.

      “It’s hard to see what else this could be, really, given the size of the explosion, other than an Israeli air strike, or several air strikes,” Donnison said from Jerusalem. “Because, you know, when we’ve seen rockets being fired out of Gaza, we never see explosions of that scale. We might see half a dozen, maybe a few more people being killed in such rocket attacks, but we’ve never seen anything on the scale of the sort of explosion on the video I was watching earlier.”

    • rosross says:

      @Peter O’Brien.

      You said: On the other hand we have Israel, which has always bent over backwards to avoid civilian casualties and which provides food water, power, medical support and employment to Gazans on a daily basis.

      Is that sarcasm? Nobody from Gaza goes to work in Israel. Some do from the other parts of Occupied Palestine but not Gaza. Israel puts them in cages for processing, old, young, sick, well, pregnant women and those in labour…..

      Israel allows some food, minimal, some medicines, minimal, and allow water and power for the prison. Well, not for the last week.

      Quote: Nearly 400 children in Gaza – or at least two a day – were denied access to critical healthcare in the West Bank in the first six months of 2023, leaving them without access to life-saving surgery or urgent medication, Save the Children said.

      Quote: Israel used ‘calorie count’ to limit Gaza food during blockade, critics claim The Guardian.

      Is this what you mean by bending over backward to avoid civilian casualties? Dropping bombs on men, women and children, the latter nearly half the population, when they have nowhere to run is surely collective punishment and targeting civilians.

      Quote: The idea that the Israeli arms industry benefits from the occupation through having a captive population it can test new weaponry on is now widely accepted.

      Israel tries out weapons in the West Bank and Gaza and then presents them as “battle proven” to the international market. Pulitzer Center.

  • Dallas Beaufort says:

    Wanting to get to Heaven early is their primary driver.

    • STD says:

      Dallas by inference you are inciting hatred; as the religion of peace is in actual fact the religion of impatience and virginal greed-viceroyalties. Presumably the material intent of Islam is the abolition of any semblances of a virtuous peace, except in an Islamic death. Which in itself brings to life the whole concept of truth- the hypocritical Islamic concept of a virtue that is rooted in vice- talk about having your cake and eating eat- G Wizz.

    • rosross says:


      You overlook the fact that the men, women and children being slaughtered by Israel are prisoners of an occupying force. If they were not and this was happening you could resort to trite comments regarding the religion of most of them. But it is not.

    • STD says:

      Dallas you are brilliant- bang- I’ve just nutted it out. Can you get on the blower to President Biden and instruct him to get Bibi Netanyahu to do a letter drop over Gaza informing Hamas’ die hard young men that paradise is closed until further notice, their are no more virgins left as the infidels have taken them all hostage.

    • rosross says:

      As long as the Gaza prison is a living hell, one imagines many might want to get to heaven earlier. But this is not about Islam, but about freedom from colonial brutality and injustice.

      I do wonder how well any of us would do experiencing three generations of torture as Palestinians have done and for some, 16 years in the hellhole of the Gaza prison.

      I suspect we would be just as desperate and determined to be free. If the Japanese had occupied and then colonised Australia and done to us for 75 years what Israel has done to the Palestinians, despite being a pacifist I suspect I would be fighting with the Resistance and I bet you would be also.

  • en passant says:

    The Hamas-Hezbollah playbook is simple: attack Israel, kill a few, lose a few, have a 3rd party broker a ‘peace’ (think Mussolini, 1938), return to the status quo by keeping in place the constant threat of attritional attacks – infinitely. Repeat regularly.
    This time Hamas has crossed a bridge too far.
    Whatever the cost, Israel will now do whatever it takes to destroy their leadership and as many of their psychopathically brainwashed operatives as possible.
    After the Munich Massacre it took 5-years to eliminate all of the leaders and planners of that atrocity.
    To survive, Mossad must repeat that process indefinitely as you cannot negotiate with barbarians for whom the only outcome is that they just want you dead.

  • cbattle1 says:

    Peter Smith: I am curious as to the origin of your current views. I ask this because I tend to view an event happening today as being a new link added to a very long chain of cause and effect; the first link of that chain existing somewhere in mythology. To some an event is the cause of an effect, but to others it is the effect of a cause. Perhaps, viewed from a cosmic perspective, the imagined chain of historic cause and effect is not linear, but the end is somehow joined to the beginning, forming a circle, and therefore there is no beginning or end.
    What I have written above may well be seen as the idle musings of someone high up in his ivory tower, but there is truth to be found in the honest self-examination of our beliefs and prejudices. It should come as no surprise that we consider “good” those people whom we identify with, and inversely, consider “bad” those people whom we disidentify with; our old primordial tribal social structure manifesting itself. Nor should it come as a surprise that a child growing up in Gaza would identify with the stories told by his or her grandparents of their flight from their homes to the situation where they are now, and of their longing to return. The toast, “Next year in Jerusalem” applies as much to the Palestinians, as it did to the Jews.

    • Paul W says:

      A very interesting view. There are at least 2 answers:
      1. Personal safety: Since Peter visited Sderot, he could easily have been kidnapped or killed by terrorists. By contrast, if he had been visiting Gaza, he might still have been kidnapped or killed especially if he expressed an unpopular opinion. His danger from Israel would be minimal. There is on this personal level no reason for him to prefer the Palestinian tribe.
      2. Truth value: If stories told by Palestinians are not true or less true, he would be preferring liars. Jerusalem is of course the Jewish capital and was never anyone else’s.

      • Peter Smith says:

        I’ll go with your two answers Paul W and go with this as well:

        I wonder cbattle1 whether the kind of analysis you describe would ever get you (anyone) off the fence. I have read enough about the beginnings of Israel as a state in 1948 to know that much went on before and before that. How many old battles and grievances do we want to revisit. Some very complex events preceded Hitler.
        Part of my view is the very dim view I have of Islam. To me it is an evil creed. Violence, discrimination and intolerance are preached (they are not historical accounts) in its very scripture. That’s why Muslim countries are at the bottom of the league of prosperity and human rights. (Imagine how much better Persia would be without the mullahs.) That’s why so much terrorism comes out of Islam. Nothing wrong with the people when they’re born.
        Part of my view is the simple, and self-evidently true, proposition that if the Israelis disarmed they would be slaughtered; if the Palestinians disarmed there would be peace. The truth of the matter is that if any Palestinian leader accepted a fair peace proposal from Israel he would be killed. Even Abbas would be killed if he set foot in Gaza.
        Part of my view is that whatever has gone before we have to be able to distinguish between outright barbarity and common decency. If Israeli were to spawn the kind of monsters who breached its borders I would take a different view. Got to be able to spot the bad guys. Otherwise, we will all be in trouble.

        • rosross says:

          Peter Smith, you said: Part of my view is the very dim view I have of Islam. To me it is an evil creed.

          And you are entitled to your opinion. However, is it wise to dismiss principles of justice, human rights, rule of law, democracy and common human decency because you believe Islam is an evil creed?

          Is it wise to condemn a religion and all of its followers for the actions of a few? Would you do that when Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist fanatics resort to barbarism?

          This is why principles developed and why we need them, so we can apply them equally and not be seduced into mindless hatred of some.

        • STD says:

          Peter if I may.
          The home invasion that occurred in Israel (illegal immigration) of recent, tells us a lot about Islam- one thing is for certain, that we in the West and of Judeo-Christian culture and values and in particular peaceful civilisation can do without the service’s of Palestinian sympathetic immigration and Islam in general.
          Maybe Albanese and his progressive mate’s could take up my well mannered generous offer of giving all Australian’s both first and second nations a voice on their corporate immigration policy- I’m sure he would win a lot of Yes’s for the No case.
          Peter Islamic immigration has been a humanitarian disaster where ever it occurs and has been ever thus since Muhammad’s first foray in Mecca that led to Medina. Islams central problem is that it is unwilling to accomodate peaceful co existence, excepting under subjugation and the threat of an unenlightened very Queer sense of merciful diversity.
          Lastly Peter, we send our soldiers overseas to protect our culture and values from this type of threat, while we simultaneously import this so called moderate threat to our own shore’s.
          And as you would well know Peter that the Koran specifically tells all Adherents, to never befriend the infidels(US) ,by inference every Muslim be it face value moderate’s or Islamic weekend foot soldier’s (cultural ordered(lefty)-extremists) do not like us one little bit- Peter, and you wonder why our veterans of this conflict are cerebrally suiciding themselves in droves. We are truly governed by an elite that has a hypocritical moral compass at best and no insight whatsoever-truly’appalling’.
          And finally Islam truly possesses a very queer definition of martyrdom-intentionally murdering or holding hostage innocence-unarmed elderly men and women, innocent children and their mothers and their babies both in utero and post-partum, as well as unarmed fully grown adult men. If that is Allah’s definition of martyrdom and MANHOOD they are indeed in need of every mercy to save them from the fires of hell ( however you define those fires)
          In light of what Hamas has done the West should apply the brakes immediately .Say no to Mufticulturalism.
          Do we really need this middle eastern crap here in Australia and if so, Why?

    • rosross says:

      The issue for many Israel right or wrong supporters is one which cannot be reasoned and to which critical thinking cannot be applied.

      Even if we put history aside and deal with the last 15 years since the Gaza prison was created by Israel, there is no doubt the provocation from the Israelis has been huge. If it were Jews imprisoned in Gaza the reaction would be very different. Can anyone imagine Jews being subjected to what Palestinian Muslims and Christians in Gaza have experienced for 15 years?

      Some analysts have written about the fact that not only was Israel instrumental in the creation of Hamas as a foil against the PLO but it has also funded Hamas and those in power in Israel have said, they need Hamas. And they do. Hamas can be dismissed as a terrorist group but the Palestinian Resistance to occupation cannot.

      The word play has been ongoing and generally effective but the more violent Israel is in terms of punishing the people it subjugates, the more those words become flimsy shadows, clearly seen as lies.

      Israel hopes the world will ignore its occupation and continued colonisation of Palestine and that talking about Hamas will lead people to forget that Hamas is a part of the Palestinian Resistance and the only reason the Palestinians resist is because they are occupied. Israel’s goal to rid Palestine of all non-Jews is impossible to achieve and the more blood it spills the more people around the world turn against the Israeli colonial State, including many Jews.

      Just as Arab is used as a euphemism for Palestinians and the West Bank as a euphemism for Occupied Palestine so Hamas is used as a euphemism for the Palestinian Resistance.

      The reality of Gaza, despite it being recognised as the world’s largest open-air prison, including by a UK Prime Minister, is denied.

      Quote: Gaza, meanwhile, has been under siege since 2007. The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem has documented a situation of “nearly inhumane conditions” in which 60% of the population faces food insecurity, access to electricity is restricted to a few hours a day, 96% of the water is contaminated, and Israeli buffer zones constrict the permissible areas for farming and fishing. As Israeli officials have stated the aim to be the weakening and overthrow of Hamas, the International Committee of the Red Cross has determined the siege to be “collective punishment” in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. – Source Common Dreams.

    • rosross says:


      I would find the mindless bigotry depressing except for the fact that more Jews are fighting for justice for the Palestinians, particularly in the US. They have the power to end the atrocities of the Israeli State.

      I had one Jewish American friend write today and say: surely never again applied to everyone!

  • rosross says:

    I fail to see how anyone can assess this terrible conflict without taking into account 75 years of violent provocation by Israel and its continued colonisation of Palestine.

    We all know if 2 million Jews were locked in a prison and treated as Israel treats those in Gaza there would be outrage.

    In the months before the attack by the Palestinian Resistance, Israel was throwing Palestinians out of their homes and handing those homes over to Jewish settlers. The settlers were also conducting murderous pogroms against the Palestinian Muslims and Christians. How is that not provocation?

    It is not as if Israel did what Australia did in regard to the native people of the land it colonised and they then turned on them. That would be an entirely different matter and utterly to be condemned where Israel would be the victim.

    I can only repeat, if Israel as the occupier and coloniser, and brutally so, is the innocent victim then the application of principles says the Germans were the innocent victims as occupiers of France and Poland.

    It also says that the French and Polish Resistance were, like Hamas, terrorists instead of people fighting to free themselves from occupation.

    And it says the Jews who decided to fight to their deaths in the Warsaw Ghetto were terrorists as the prisoners in Gaza are said to be by Israel.

    The only conclusion to be reached with irrational and biased positions, from people who are clearly intelligent generally, is that mass psychosis is at work. The inability to rationally assess such a situation is the result of unconscious forces at work, as so well described by Carl Jung.

    How else can anyone ignore the reality of 75 years of brutal subjugation of Palestine and continued colonisation of the land and dispossession of its native people? How can anyone ignore the fact that Israel has always used collective punishment, in itself a war crime and targeted civilians?

    It is documented fact that Israel tests its weapons on the Gaza prison where people have no place to run and where nearly a half are children. How can that not be seen as the terrible provocation and war crime that it is? The IDF has called these attacks, mowing the lawn. How can anyone of conscience not be revolted by such a description of the bombing of trapped civilians?

    The siege of Gaza, keeping them on life support as the IDF describes it, where men, women and children die because of malnourishment, disease and a lack of medical care. How is that not guaranteed to turn people mad and fill them with hatred for their tormenters?

    If we apply principles of justice, rule of law, democracy, human rights and common human decency it is impossible to not conclude that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians represents the greatest colonial crime in modern history, certainly by any nation claiming to be a Western democracy.

    I have long believed that many who support Israel do not do so because they actually support Israel but because they hate and fear Islam so much they are irrational on the issue. No doubt it has been ever thus with some humans, for the mind, in the grip of fear can be turned to accept the most terrible of things. History shows us that clearly.

  • Botswana O'Hooligan says:

    “What did the Romans ever do for us” springs to mind as the above arguments go back and forth, and then a few others including the Ottomans come to mind, and then of course some of my forbears who took a canter into Beersheba to meet them (Turks) could be held to task, the Balfour Declaration perhaps, then the UN resolution 181. One might opine that apart from the Romans etc. the Poms tried to do the right thing, also the UN when the partition was to take place in 1948. The moslems who don’t in fact follow the religion of peace openly state that the Jews shouldn’t exist so maybe many of us could have a slight bias in favour of Israel. As for the protests etc. in the countries including ours that took moslems in without let or hindrance those buggers protesting are biting the hands that fed them for they should have left their mores and grievances behind and embraced a new life here. Sadly, most of them didn’t.

  • rosross says:

    Peter, I am not sure why you keep repeating things which have been shown to be unreliable as reports at best or simply untrue.|

    You said: Here, clearly, I’m not talking about Hamas, where proportionality has no application; neither in principle nor practice. To call them barbarians is too kind

    You said: . Those who rape women to death, who burn people alive, who deliberately kill children and babies are monsters not human beings.

    The claims of rape were made by the Israelis who provided no proof. The young German woman who was said to have been raped and killed was later found in a Gaza hospital, clearly taken there by the Palestinian fighters. Hopefully she was not in the Christian hospital just bombed in Gaza and will live to tell her story.

    Quote: An Israeli woman who survived the Hamas assault on settlements near the Gaza boundary on 7 October says Israeli civilians were “undoubtedly” killed by their own security forces.

    “They eliminated everyone, including the hostages,” she told Israeli radio. “There was very, very heavy crossfire” and even tank shelling.

    She also said the Palestinian fighters treated them humanely. She said this on Israeli radio and while the interview can be found and has been transcribed it is not available on the official radio site. Not surprising.

    The woman, 44-year-old mother of three Yasmin Porat, said that prior to that, she and other civilians had been held by the Palestinians for several hours and treated “humanely.” She had fled the nearby “Nova” rave.

    A recording of her interview, from the radio program Haboker Hazeh (“This Morning”) hosted by Aryeh Golan on state broadcaster Kan, has been circulating on social media.

    The claims of beheaded babies has not been proven, came from a radical settler who advocates killing all Palestinians and since then the journalist who got the story from the IDF, has since retracted and apologised for saying it, as have a number of journalists.

    If these actions are those of monsters not humans, what does that make Israelis who have regularly bombed Gaza to test their weapons, a known fact, and who are now unleashing genocidal slaughter on men, women, children and babies again?

    As to rules of war between a heavily armed occupier and coloniser and the very poorly armed occupied and colonised, just what are they?

    • pgang says:

      That’s some top-notch victim shaming.

      • rosross says:

        Israel is the occupier and has all the power and therefore cannot be the victim. There have been Israeli victims of course, but generally anyone who maintains brutal occupation and continued colonisation is creating situations of violence and cannot be deemed to be an innocent victim.

        As to ‘shaming’ I have not heard facts called that before. I realise the facts are inconvenient but when we ignore them we are doomed to a world of fantasy and lies.

        These facts from independent journalist Jeremy Hammond, who does think the Gaza hospital bombing could have been a Palestinian error, also make it clear that Israel has form in bombing hospitals and medical centres.

        What I was referring to was rather Israel’s prior history of attacking hospitals in Gaza.

        On January 15, during “Operation Cast Lead” — (which was from December 27, 2008 to January 18, 2009, not January 8 as I’d mistakenly typed in this morning’s newsletter) — Israel attacked the Al-Wafa Hospital, the Al-Fata Hospital, and the Al-Quds Hospital.

        A UN investigation headed by a self-described Zionist found that in each instance the attacks were totally without military justification.

        My book Obstacle to Peace: The US Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict documents those and other Israeli war crimes during “Operation Cast Lead” in meticulous detail.

        Of course, the book also documents war crimes by Palestinian militants during that operation, such as indiscriminate rocket attacks by Hamas and Islamic Jihad into Israeli territory, as well as errant rocket strikes that landed inside Gaza.

        As I mentioned in this morning’s newsletter, despite numerous international investigations into Israel’s “Cast Lead” operation, there was not a single documented case of Palestinian civilians being killed by Israeli forces because Hamas was using them at the time as human shields.

        My book also covers “Operation Protective Edge” in 2014, although in far less detail (since to do the same treatment as “Cast Lead” would have required a separate book).

        During that operation, from July 11 to 17, Israel repeatedly struck the Wafa Rehabilitation Hospital in the absence of military justification.

        On July 21, Israel attacked Al Aqsa Hospital, once again in the absence of any military justification.

        On August 1, the Abu Youssef al-Najjar Hospital came under “relentless Israeli fire throughout the day”, according to Amnesty International.

        Coming to yesterday’s attack on Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City, which a WHO official described as “unprecedented in scale” and is reported to have killed hundreds of people, Israel claims that a misfired rocket from Islamic Jihad was responsible.

        The evidence I have seen so far, including video footage posted to Twitter, supports Israel’s claim. I am therefore inclined to believe at this point that Islamic Jihad is responsible for this atrocity, but I await investigation and analyses from independent sources before drawing a conclusion.

        Israel has nevertheless been responsible for other recent attacks on health care amounting to war crimes. The WHO official also said, “We have seen consistent attacks on healthcare in the occupied Palestinian territory.” So far, he said, there have been 51 attacks against healthcare facilities in Gaza, resulting in the 15 health workers killed and 27 injured.

  • cbattle1 says:

    There is a lot here to unpack, but argument is futile when tribalism is at the core of our identity; which football team do we want to win?
    Some facts are relevant: Jews did well living in Muslim dominated lands; the same can not be said about Christendom, for example when the Moors were overthrown by the Christians in Spain, and then there is the long history of pogroms, ghettoization, etc. in Christian Europe.
    The great Christian reformer Martin Luther wrote “The Jews and their Lies”, and no less than Henry Ford Sr. wrote “The International Jew – The World’s Foremost Problem”, which drew heavily on “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”. To be fair, Ford’s book (highly unlikely that he had the time to write it) does not attack Jews, but the perceived influence that Jews have had in finance, the press, the professions, etc., in the Western countries. And I am thinking it is that influence which is at the core of such passionate support for Israel, via the mass-media that has long been broadcast from Hollywood. What is the history of pro-Muslim and pro-Arab influence/propaganda in the West?
    It was said by the Zionists that Palestine was “a land without people, for a people without land”! Is that not the “terra nullius” argument in the truest sense of the phrase?
    I should think that the Palestinians would gladly throw away their weapons if they could be guaranteed a right to return to their homeland, including the Palestinian diaspora living in refugee camps in the surrounding countries or in other situations abroad.

    • David Isaac says:

      ‘A land without a people for a people without a land’ – a perfect piece of lying propaganda

      ‘terra nullius’ – I still don’t know!

      The parallels between the Palestinians and the Aborigines are quite poignant. Both are losing the struggle to hold onto their homelands against a settler-led invasion. Australia has plenty of space to park the defeated but real estate is scarce in the Levant. Both are fighting a public relations battle in the hope of improving their lot, but are currently losing.

      Israel has a chance to consolidate Gaza into its territory and it will do so with the connivance of the USA under the influence of AIPAC. The senseless killing is so far not worse than the bombing of Dresden or the invasion of Iraq, to name but a few of many far worse atrocities. Israel is very committed to securing a viable homeland for the Jewish people. Would that other European countries were similarly single-minded.

  • cbattle1 says:

    It is interesting to read the Koran, where it is favourably acknowledged that the Jews are “the people of the Book”, but then it explains that they had fallen to arguing among themselves, and thus lost their status in the eyes of God. Shlomo Sands, an Israeli academic, wrote in his book “The Invention of the Jewish People”, that the historical facts would suggest that the Jews living under repression in Byzantine Palestine (Jews were forbidden to pray on the Temple Mount), had welcomed the Islamic forces as liberators, and acknowledged Mohammed as their Messiah, leading to mass conversions to Islam! That may be a bit far-fetched, but if it was true, that would mean that the Palestinians are the original Jews! What irony that would be!

    • rosross says:

      The concept of original anything is ridiculous going back thousands of years. We are all original to Africa but are not going to claim it.

      In a modern world, a Western democracy which Israel claims to be, should have equality for all citizens, cannot be an apartheid State and cannot brutally occupy and colonise others.

      Israel’s behaviour is not just a travesty of democracy it is a travesty of Judaism.

  • Homer Sapien says:

    There are no rules in war.

  • Occidental says:

    You must all realise that the issue of proportionality is not relevent to the participants in war, but to third parties. Proportionality is the test third party observers apply to conflict. Two blokes are having a fist fight, one knocks the other to the ground, and then kicks him in the head. It is the kick that sends him to gaol. In a fight participants quickly lose any concept of proprtionality. In a war proportionaIty can only ever be exercised by a state that is not under pressure. Clearly at the moment the only actor that can exercise restraint is Israel, by virtue of the fact that it is not under existential or serious threat. Whether it chooses to is a matter for its government.
    But a failure to exercise proportionality will motivate third parties some of those third parties include Hezbollah and perhaps Fatah, but much more importantly it includes nuclear engineers in Pakistan, Iran, and even possibly Russia. It includes billionaires in the middle east. It includes not just middle east governments but any country with large Muslim populations There are many who support Israel, but Israel’s hand can not be strengthened, it is already so strong. On the hand Hamas’s hand can be strengthened, and perhaps this is the point of the attack in the first place. Hamas probably wants an apocalyptic Israeli response. Whether Hamas gets the benefits it hopes for, only time will tell.

  • pgang says:

    Peter it might be worth resurrecting the article in Quadrant that explained how this contemporary Jew hatred in Palestine was a Nazi invention. By inference, the useful idiots ‘standing with the Palestinians’ are actually standing with the Final Solution.

    • rosross says:

      Yes, Israel’s Final Solution for Palestinians to make the land inhabited purely by Jews. Beats me how that stands on any count of justice.

      I fail to understand how, even if the Palestinians did regain control of their land, that represents a threat to all Jews. Most Jews do not live in Israel, never did and never will so how are they at risk?

      And even if every Palestinian went home, a large minority of them are Christians. That gets ignored. It is bizarre that so many Christians, well, in name if not in thought, support Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, when that treatment also applies to Christians.

  • Jack Brown says:

    The laws of war discussed in a church should still be based on “to love your neighbour as yourself”.

    • rosross says:

      Totally agree Jack Brown. The foundation of Christianity must, by its nature, totally oppose Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and its demand that Jews must remain in total control.

  • David Isaac says:

    Well that would be interesting to have a look at.

    From 1933 there was active cooperation between Germany and the Zionist movement to encourage German Jews to migrate to Palestine. Under the Haavara or transfer agreement there was .a mechanism which allowed much of the emigres’ capital to be transferred to the Holy Land, albeit in the form of German manufactured goods. There was even a commemorative medal struck with the swastika on one side and the star of David on the other. It was a controversial programme amongst the German leadership and there may well have been a faction acting to impede the Jewish takeover.


  • Roger Franklin says:


    I have just caught up with this, er, discussion and I must say there are posters who should be ashamed of peddling asinsight so many cliches, furphies and misrepresentations.

    The Huns weren’t so bad because they aided Jewish emigration and — golly gosh! — even let them convert their wealth to German trade goods!

    Israel “tests” weapons on Gaza civilians. Really?

    All this just 11 days after Hamas’ very own Einsatzgruppen did their worst.

    Thread closed before any more otherwise sensible people make further dills of themselves

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