Israel Report

April 2001         



A Proportionate Response to Violence

JINSA Report Number 187
April 18, 2001

Now it is clear that Israel had notified the US that it would not be staying in Gaza EVEN BEFORE Secretary Powell made his statement calling for that withdrawal. We're not going to waste time parsing the facts, then. We're going to parse the philosophy.

"The hostilities last night in Gaza were precipitated by the provocative Palestinian mortar attacks on Israel,"
Mr. Powell said. Fine. For too long, the US has treated causes of and responses to violence as if they were equal. In fact, we remember not too long ago when another National Security Advisor to another President said there was a "blessing" in Palestinian violence because the parties would then understand the need to negotiate their differences. Shalhevet's mother didn't need that lesson. So, on balance, it is a good thing when the Secretary of State of the United States understands that provocative violence is not a blessing.
"The Israeli response was excessive and disproportionate."

No it wasn't.

There is nothing excessive about the IDF using military force against military targets that have mortared towns in sovereign Israeli territory or targeted Israel's civilian population. In fact, short of a nuke on Gaza City, it is hard to think of an Israeli response that would be disproportionate to continuing warfare that targets civilians. Palestinian militias, police, security services and Praetorian Guards need to know that they will be hit back and hit hard. A pro-active Israeli military policy in Gaza, aimed at the Palestinian military apparatus is quite fair and corresponds to the reality of the situation. We wouldn't tolerate from Mexico or Canada what Israel has tolerated from its neighbor, and we drop bombs on Baghdad for far less than what Israel has taken from the PA.
"We call upon both sides to respect the agreements they've signed."
Too late.

The big joke this morning is Arafat suggesting that he will "withdraw recognition" of Israel. Signed agreements are only as good as their signatories' honor or the penalties imposed for their abrogation. The Hitler-Stalin Pact, the ABM Treaty, the Dayton Accords, the MTCR and the Chemical Weapons Convention are all moot. The Israeli-Palestinian agreements were obviated by Yasser Arafat's failure to implement them. The Covenant wasn't changed, incitement and hatred are political staples of the PA, the terrorist infrastructure has grown along with the military buildup. At some point, before yesterday, Israel ceased to be bound by what Arafat was never bound by.

"There can be no military solution to this conflict." Quite the opposite. It appears that there can be no negotiated solution to this conflict, and not because Israel didn't try. If we've learned one thing over the past eight years, it is that the Palestinians won't be talked, cajoled or bribed into giving up their belief that Israel should disappear and that blood is honorable, whether they shed their own or someone else's.

If the Palestinians think they can shoot their way to a Palestinian state from the Jordan to the Mediterranean, the IDF is there to tell them otherwise. It may not be a "solution to the conflict," but it will do until there is one.

©2001 - The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA)
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