Sunday, March 5, 2017

Figures Don't Lie But Liars Figure. A Proportionate Response to the Disproportionate Response Claim (Gaza)

1. Introduction of the Issue

Common Claim
It's often claimed that during The Gaza War (2014) Israel used "disproportionate force".  Bernie Sanders made this claim during an interview with Jake Tapper

The Numbers
Sanders mistakenly claimed in an interview a few weeks earlier that about 10,000 people were killed. The two main sources commonly used for casualties during the conflict are Israel and Hamas. Since everyone would agree that Hamas is a Terrorist Organization and therefore intentionally murders innocent women and children, the odds that they would also be willing to lie about the related casualties are proportionately greater than 2,125 to 73. Per Israel, 2,125 Palestinians died during the War and 72 Israelis and one foreigner died. 

What is the Right Question to Ask?
Supporters of the Palestinians tend to try and emphasize the disproportionate casualty statistics and avoid or at least minimize the overall context. This starts and ends with an answer, "Israel used disproportionate force," and misses something more important, the related starting question:

Was Israel justified in its response based on Israeli standards of justice?

Of course you could ask the question using other standards of justice but, as most people would first ask the question using their standard of justice, this article will only ask the question using Israel's standard.

2. Discussion

                      You're Making Things Up Again Bernie

What caused the Israeli response?
In order to answer the basic question of this article, the first question to ask is what caused the Israeli response. Per Wikipedia:
Between 4 and 6 July, a total of 62 rockets were fired from Gaza and the IAF attacked several targets in Gaza.[190][191][192] The following day, Hamas assumed formal responsibility for launching rocket attacks on Israel.[32] Hamas increased rocket attacks on Israel,[109] and by 7 July had fired 100 rockets from Gaza at Israeli territory;
Was Israel justified in making any response of force?
Per UN Resolution 3314 and therefore International Law:

Article 3
Any of the following acts, regardless of a declaration of war, shall, subject to and in accordance with the provisions of article 2, qualify as an act of aggression:
          (b) Bombardment by the armed forces of a State against the territory of another State or the use of any weapons by a State against the territory of another State; 
 Clearly Hamas would meet the definition of "aggression" here. Beyond that, as Hamas was additionally targeting and murdering/injuring/terrifying civilians with this bombardment their actions would be considered by most, and especially Israel, to go beyond mere aggression, all the way to Terrorist Attacks. From Israel's standpoint then, a forceful response was justified.

In comparing the deaths on both sides what is a fair number to use for the Palestinians?

Per Israel 2,125 Palestinians died. Israel estimates 953 Palestinian civilians were killed. Since the 1,172 Palestinian soldiers who were killed were killed while supporting Terrorist Attacks against Israel, Israel would not include them in considering the extent of Israel's military response. Everyone would agree that some of the Palestinian civilians killed were killed by Hamas, either intentionally or accidentally. Fatah estimates that about 10% of the Palestinian deaths were intentionally killed by Hamas and let's guess that another 10% were unintentionally killed by Hamas. That would bring the Palestinian civilian deaths directly caused by Israel to about 762. Per Israel there were 73 Israeli deaths. Most were soldiers but since the soldiers were defending Israel against Terrorist Attacks Israel, by its standards, would be justified in including them in a comparison of fatalities. So the ratio here is about 10 to 1. 

How many casualties did the response PREVENT?
Before measuring how proportionate Israel's response was we need to consider how many Israeli deaths it may have prevented. In total the Israeli response stopped the Terrorist Attacks. Once the Terrorist Attacks stopped the Israeli response stopped. Most countries, including Israel, would accept a far higher ratio than 10 to 1 in order to stop ongoing Terrorist Attacks from a hostile State. 

We also need to consider the risk to Israel, even if relatively small, of the possibility of significantly more casualties. Hamas confessed/boasted that during the War it attempted to strike Israel's nuclear facility at Dimona HAMAS: WE ATTEMPTED TO HIT THE NUCLEAR REACTOR IN DIMONA .

Was Hamas indirectly responsible for some Palestinian casualties directly caused by Israel?
It's generally agreed that Hamas was by:

1. Deliberately launching some rockets from/near civilian buildings.

2. Ordering the general Gazan population not to move to safer areas.

                     The Hamasgous still rules the wasteland

3. Conclusion

In summary a fair consideration of the fatalities to include on each side indicates about a 10 to 1 ratio. From Israel's standpoint this ratio would be within the bounds of a proportionate response due to the following key considerations:

1. The Israeli response was caused by Terrorist attacks.

2. The Israeli response was limited to what was necessary to stop the Terrorist attacks. 

3. The possibility existed of significantly greater Israeli casualties if the Terrorist attacks were not stopped.

4. Hamas was also responsible for some Palestinian fatalities. 

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