Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Gaza 2012: Proportionality and Collective Punishment

November 20, 2012 11:33 am 1 comment

A Grad rocket destroyed this kindergarten classroom in Beersheva, Israel on Dec. 31, 2008. Photo: Avi Ohayon/GPO.

It would be a denial of reality to assume that only a small group of terrorists could be involved in the thousands of documented acts of terror in the past 10 years by Palestinian Arabs. In the seven years since Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, Hamas has launched thousands of rockets directly at civilian populations in Israel. It would be reckless to assume that these acts of terror are isolated, undertaken independently, without the direct involvement of the Palestinian populace and the leadership they opt to elect.

Israel often is portrayed in the media, by Western leaders, human rights activists and the many different organs of the United Nations as inflicting disproportionate and collective punishment on many Palestinians for the deeds of a few terrorists.

Ironically, the prohibition of imposing “collective penalties [punishment] … intimidation and terrorism” that Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention talks about, should be applied in this case to the millions of innocent men, women, and children of Israel that are collectively being punished day-in and day-out by Arab terrorists for “offenses” they never “personally committed.” As to the “terrorism” Article 33 speaks about; it is the Israelis that fight to prevent Palestinian terrorism, and not the other way around.

Interestingly, the British in 1929 thought that collective punishment was a perfectly legitimate measure when inhabitants of Arab villages attacked the Jews. This collective punishment was not merely a single necessary step, but actually an existing ordinance of the British Mandate supported by the League of Nations, in dealing with Arab terrorism:

“Collective Punishments. The Collective Punishments Ordinances were applied to the [Arab] towns and villages whose inhabitants were guilty of participation in the concerted attacks on Jews at Hebron, Safad, Motza, Artuf, Beer-Tuvia, and heavy fines were inflicted.”

Throughout history, Jews were law-abiding, peaceful people defending themselves against Arab aggression. In a 1946 Report, the Anglo-American Committee described its observation regarding Jews living in the land of Palestine:

“The Jew had to train himself for self-defence, and to accustom himself to the life of a pioneer in an armed stockade. Throughout the Arab rising, the Jews in the National Home, despite every provocation, obeyed the orders of their leaders and exercised a remarkable self-discipline. They shot, but only in self-defence; they rarely took reprisals on the Arab.”

Israel’s reaction to Arab aggression is nothing more than a measured, fair response designed “to effectively terminate the attack [s]” by a conglomerate of Palestinian Arab terrorists, supported by Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah, in order to prevent its recurrence.

Palestinian Arabs, by their first use of armed force against Israeli civilians and non-combatant Jews in contravention of the United Nations Charter, constituted prima facie [Latin: on its face] evidence of an act of aggression – aggression being defined by international law as “the most serious and dangerous form of illegal use of force.”

Therefore, the rule of proportionality in this case of continuous aggression needs to be met by Israeli acts that will induce the aggressors to comply with its international obligations. Israel countermeasures need not be the exact equivalent of the breaching act. Judge Schwebel, the former president of the International Court of Justice is quoted saying:

“In the case of action taken for the specific purpose of halting and repelling an armed attack, this does not mean that the action should be more or less commensurate with the attack.”

The perception among Palestinians that politically motivated violence is legitimate and effective is nothing new. From a broader perspective, if the Palestinians are rewarded with political gains following their acts of aggression, it can be expected that other radical groups will also make use of their tactics. Israel will no longer be the main target.

1 Comment

  • Lawrence Kulak

    The Arabs are upset that the Bible proceeded without Yismael replacing Yitzchak in the narrative. Muslims seek to negate the Biblical phrase “Hakol Kol Yaakov v’ Hayadim Yedai Esav” which was just read this past Shabbos, because they cannot accept the dual nature of Yaakov. This is because the Muslims have always been prepared to try to take by force what was not their rightful legacy. The cannot bear the thought therefore, that yaakov, in addition to being a man of simplicity and Torah learning can also be a fierce warrior. This is true of “all Muslims” and not simply the ones who are branded as terrorists or terrorist leaders. And that is why assistanced given to terrorists is a natural and automatic reaction by all Gazans and all Arab Muslims who are associated with Yishmael. Therefore, it is academic when you discuss the issue of collective punishment to conclude that it in fact does and should apply to all the Arab residents who choose to live amongst the terrorists. It is not mere ‘guild by association’ but guilt through connected deeds and ideologies. When an Arab youth goes out and slaughters an entire Jewish family, do we question whether he is a member of Hamas? We simply assume that he is “one of them”. And that is the correct assumption. Apologies in the midst of war are no more than self defeating acts of appeasement.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.

Current day month ye@r *


  • Arts and Culture Features Opinion Playwrite Iddo Netanyahu: ‘Hitler Always Talked About Peace’ (INTERVIEW)

    Playwrite Iddo Netanyahu: ‘Hitler Always Talked About Peace’ (INTERVIEW)

    Late Friday night, on November 13, I was headed for bed when an ominous news bulletin flashed across my computer screen – something about a shooting in Paris. It wasn’t long before the “small number” of shootings and casualties began to double and triple and quadruple. The locations of attacks seemed crazily disorganized, and the tweets and videos became more and more horrifying. It was a long night for many stunned observers. We tried to understand what was happening, and […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Theater BDS Gives Belgian-Jewish Actress New Lease on Life in Tel Aviv

    BDS Gives Belgian-Jewish Actress New Lease on Life in Tel Aviv

    In an interview with the Israeli site nrg on Wednesday, Belgian-Jewish stage actress Noemi Schlosser recounted immigrating to Israel after her career in Europe was destroyed by BDS. Schlosser said she had enjoyed success in Belgium and international acclaim until she was targeted by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement for her pro-Israel stance during Operation Protective Edge — last summer’s war against Hamas in Gaza. She described watching the theaters where she performed go from packed to nearly empty over a short period of […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports In Israel for Champions League Soccer Match, Chelsea Manager Says Team Not Worried About Security Situation

    In Israel for Champions League Soccer Match, Chelsea Manager Says Team Not Worried About Security Situation

    The manager of the Chelsea Football Club said on Monday that he is looking forward to playing in Israel this week against Maccabi Tel Aviv, in spite of the security situation, Israeli news site nrg reported. Jose Murinho, who is already in Israel with his team to compete against Maccabi in the Champions League soccer match, was  asked whether he was worried about the current wave of Palestinian violence sweeping the country. “I have no worries at all regarding the security situation, and neither do […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Opinion In the Middle East, ‘The Tail Wags the Dog’ (REVIEW)

    In the Middle East, ‘The Tail Wags the Dog’ (REVIEW)

    Blaming the West has become the most pervasive method of teaching for many Middle East studies departments, which are becoming the heart of pop-culture academia. Efraim Karsh, a distinguished professor of Middle Eastern studies at Bar-Ilan University and professor emeritus at King’s College London, in his latest book The Tail Wags the Dog: International Politics and the Middle East, dispels this myth. “Britain’s ‘original sin,’ if such was indeed committed, lay not in the breaking up of Middle Eastern unity but […]

    Read more →
  • Features Spirituality/Tradition With Popularity and Sales up, ‘Mensch on a Bench’ Has Much to Smile About

    With Popularity and Sales up, ‘Mensch on a Bench’ Has Much to Smile About – The Mensch on a Bench is so much happier now than he was a year ago. Look carefully and you will notice that, whereas the previous Mensch had a decidedly worried look, this latest version of the popular Hanukkah toy is flashing an exuberant grin. Is the erstwhile Mensch smiling because he expects to be in some 100,000 homes by year’s end? In truth, the change in visage was suggested last year by the “sharks” on ABC’s Shark Tank […]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Adam Sandler Updates Famous ‘Chanukah Song,’ Includes Hulk Hogan, David Beckham and Scarlett Johansson in Latest Version

    Adam Sandler Updates Famous ‘Chanukah Song,’ Includes Hulk Hogan, David Beckham and Scarlett Johansson in Latest Version

    Actor Adam Sandler unveiled a new version of his famous “Chanukah Song” on Saturday, adding a slew of Jewish celebrities to the ditty’s updated lyrics. The comedian — who released the original song about being Jewish during Christmas in 1996 — performed the latest version of the comedic track during the New York Comedy Festival at Carnegie Hall. Marvel Comics creator Stan Lee, actor Jake Gyllenhaal and “the two guys who founded Google” are among the famous Jewish celebrities now in the line up. Sandler also included lyrics about Star Wars‘ Princess […]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Famed Israeli Violinist Itzhak Perlman to Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

    Famed Israeli Violinist Itzhak Perlman to Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom – Famed Israeli violinist Itzhak Perlman will be among the 17 recipients of America’s Presidential Medal of Freedom next week. He is the fourth Israeli to receive the highest civilian honor in the US. “A native of Israel, he came to the United States at a young age and was introduced to Americans broadly when he appeared on the ‘Ed Sullivan Show’ in 1958. Mr. Perlman made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1963 when he was 18,” a White House […]

    Read more →
  • Features Spirituality/Tradition Don’t Think Israel is a Luxury Destination? Check Out These 6 Spots

    Don’t Think Israel is a Luxury Destination? Check Out These 6 Spots – While Israel is a common destination for cultural and religious pilgrimages, travelers seeking the best hotels, fine dining, and upscale relaxation less often find themselves in the Holy Land. Yet in recent years, the country’s burgeoning tech scene has attracted a business crowd accustomed to ritzy accommodation. Besides, the permanent summer of Tel Aviv and Eilat makes them prime destinations for European vacationers. Israel’s populace managed to tame the swamps and irrigate the desert — so going luxury should […]

    Read more →