The “Proportionality” of Israel’s Self-Defense

As usual, the outbreak of fighting between Israel and Hamas has brought forth accusations about the IDF’s use of “disproportionate” force. Most of these criticisms are rooted in a misunderstanding of the doctrine of proportionality, which does not require an army to ensure that an enemy’s losses are somehow “proportionate” to its own. Marc LiVecche explains:

[T]he doctrine of proportionality has at its core the requirement to calculate gains and losses, [that is], determining when a particular use of force—whether a weapon or a tactic—is likely to produce more harm than good.

Proportionality does not mean that an assaulted nation can only take precisely that weight in flesh that has been taken from it. It has the right to be sure the enemy’s capacity and resolve to try and take more flesh in the future has been humbled. There are limits to this, and it seems pretty clear that Israel is doing an appropriate job in keeping them. . . . Meanwhile, Hamas’s attempt to kill anything Jewish without regard for combatant status continues. That their rockets kill Arabs—both inside Gaza and in Israel—doesn’t seem to matter to them. Israel appears to take greater pains in preventing Palestinian civilian deaths than Hamas does.

It should also be remembered that Hamas can make it all stop in an instant, they need only renounce the violence and credibly stand down. To riff on the old truism, if Hamas were to lay down its arms, there would be no more violence. If Israel were to lay down her arms, there would be no more Israel. In proportion to that fact, Israel should continue to fight accordingly.

Read more at Providence

More about: Hamas, IDF, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Laws of war

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy