This past weekend, after Hamas launched hundreds of rockets at Israel, the IDF countered with carefully targeted airstrikes—and received the usual condemnations for responding “disproportionately,” mostly from those utterly ignorant of the laws of war or simply committed to libeling the Jewish state at all cost. David French sets the record straight:
Hamas . . . uses civilian facilities for military purposes, tries to blend its fighters in with the civilian population, and uses civilians as human shields. [But] nations have a right to defend themselves, and that right of self-defense is not abrogated when an opponent fights dirty. . . .
Whenever Israel responds to Hamas, you see much misuse of the term “proportionality,” as if there is something inherently wrong with using more-powerful weapons to destroy a less-powerful foe. There is not. Under the law of war, “proportionality” doesn’t mean responding with similar force. It means avoiding attacks when the expected harm “incidental to the attack” would be “excessive in relation to the military advantage anticipated to be gained.” To take an example, if you know a sniper is in a building, and you can destroy the building without destroying the city block, then you use force against the building, not the entire block. . . .
But rather than recognizing this legal reality, the international community subjects Israel to two separate anti-Semitic double standards. First, [Hamas’s] attacks against its civilian population are rationalized and justified to an unprecedented extent. . . .
Second, the world then holds Israel to a standard of military restraint that it applies to no other military force on the planet. If Israel used American rules of engagement or applied American military doctrine, the devastation in Gaza would be orders of magnitude greater than anything we’ve seen [since Hamas took control of the territory in 2007]. The George W. Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations have been far more aggressive . . . than Israel in responding to terror. . . . Yet, with isolated exceptions, we’ve done so under self-imposed rules of engagement that are stricter than the law of war requires.
More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, IDF, Laws of war