27 December 2008 - The Gaza War is a Just War
It’s been a while since I blogged regularly here, due to my involvement in the McCain election effort (sigh), the launch of my book, and my third year of law school in general. But when I saw the headlines this evening, I knew it was probably time to crank things up again, in time to fight the ritualistic hatred that is roused every time Israel exerts its right to defend its citizens according to international law.
The Gaza War is a just war. It is a war to defend Israeli lives and Israeli sovereignty against attacks targeting Israeli territory and Israeli civilians. It is a war against a terrorist organization—Hamas—that has violated international law in its aggression against Israel, in its repeated attempts to kill as many Israeli civilians as possible, and in its treatment of Palestinian civilians living in Gaza.
Hamas brought this war upon itself. In the very recent past, it marked the end of a truce with Israel by firing rockets at Israeli border towns. Hamas and other terror groups encouraged or tolerated by it have also launched thousands of rockets at Israel over the last three years. They have kidnapped an Israeli soldier and refuse to permit visits from the International Red Cross; they have tried to kidnap others.
There are already protests from the usual crowd about “war crimes” and “baby killers,” as well as claims that Israel is trying to wipe out the Gaza Palestinians as a follow up to its ongoing blockade. Following the pattern we have seen in the past, these cries will increase in their shrill intensity until an atrocity occurs—or until one is manufactured for the cameras—an international opinion begins to shift.
Israel should avoid killing civilians if possible—for moral reasons first of all, and also because it is imperative that Israel stay on the right side of international law. But the most important thing Israel must do is maintain a clear strategic objective. If the goal is to end Hamas as a threat, ground troops will be needed. This is not a war that can be won from the air. The Lebanon experience cannot be repeated.
As for the critics: they are right insofar as they insist that Israel do its utmost to protect innocent human life. But that applies on both sides of the border, and it does not extend to Israel doing nothing or giving in to Hamas’s demands. In this war, the more important critics to watch will be those who do not say anything—those who are no friends of Israel but who tacitly hope Israel destroys Hamas.