Personal tools
 
Views

Debate: Israeli military assault in Gaza

From Debatepedia

Jump to: navigation, search

[Digg]
[reddit]
[Delicious]
[Facebook]

Was Israel's 2008/2009 military bombing and invasion of Gaza justified?

Background and context

On December 19th, 2008, a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza ended without renewal, and Hamas increased rocket attacks on Israel.
On December 27th, 2008, Israel launched an air bombing campaign against Hamas targets, but which killed hundreds of Gazan civilians as well. On January 3rd, Israel launched a ground invasion of Gaza. Throughout this period, around the world, newspapers, leaders, and experts expressed opinions for and against Israel's military strikes in Gaza. Multiple questions frame the debate: Was the military operation necessary and justified as a means of self-defense? Did Israel have no other choice but to launch a large-scale military assault? Were diplomatic or economic means available or exhausted? Is the existence of Hamas, and its anti-Israel mission, intolerable for Israel and its long-term security? Were there significant ties between Hamas and Iran that could further justify Israel's actions? Will Israel's actions feed more extremism and terrorism?
Did Israel's actions dash the hopes of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, or did the operation actually improve these prospects?

Was the attack on Gaza proportional to the rocket strikes? Did Israel kill an unacceptably larger number of civilians than Hamas killed Israeli civilians? Is "proportionality" a fair criteria? Would Israel be justified in using "disproportionate" means because the Hamas regime is avowedly out to destroy Israel?

Who is to blame for initiating the conflict? Was Israel's blockade of Gaza to blame? Or was this a just response to Gaza's rocket attacks? Was Israel an "occupying power" with special responsibilities to uphold the welfare of Gazans? Did the blockade shirk these responsibilities? Or did Gaza's rocket attacks invalidate these concerns?

Contents

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]

Peace process: Did Israel's assault improve or worsen the peace process?

[Add New]

Pro

  • Israel need not work with the illegitimate Hamas regime "Defending Israel's Operations in Gaza". Aisha - "Isn't Hamas the democratically-elected government in Gaza? Why is Israel trying to overthrow it? Hamas promotes itself as the legitimate power in Gaza. In reality, Hamas is at its core a terrorist organization that refuses to renounce violence or recognize Israel's right to exist. Hamas is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union. [...] Hamas came to power in Gaza through a violent coup against the Palestinian Authority government. [...] Since Hamas refuses to live in peace with Israel, the Israeli government has no choice but to seek Hamas' replacement."
[Add New]

Con

  • Hamas was democratically elected; Israel must make peace with them If Hamas was an authoritarian regime, Israel could possible attempt to get rid of it and make peace with the Palestinians in Gaza separately. But, because Hamas was democratically elected, any efforts by Israel to destroy them will be seen in Gaza as an effort to destroy the Palestinians and their democratic will. This would not enable any long-term peace with the Palestinians. Therefore, a long-term peace depends on working with Hamas, rather than attempting to destroy them.


[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Self-defense: Were Israeli strikes a legitimate means of self-defense?

[Add New]

Pro

  • Israel has a right to determine how best to uphold its security. While there can be debate as to whether Israel's Gaza assault achieved its objectives of securing the nation overall, there can be no debate that Israel has the right to defend itself as well as the right to determine how best to do so. While it is easy for countries and foreigners to state their opinions about Israel's security interests and how its actions may or may not fullfill them, Israel's right to make that judgement for itself must be respected. In addition, it is probably true that only Israelis themselves can fully understand their own interests, take heart of direct threats to their lives, and develop appropriate security imperatives.


[Add New]

Con

  • Israel's Gaza assault was "aggression" not "self-defense" under i-law "Israel’s bombardment of Gaza is not self-defence – it’s a war crime". Times Online. January 11, 2009 - "ISRAEL has sought to justify its military attacks on Gaza by stating that it amounts to an act of “self-defence” as recognised by Article 51, United Nations Charter. We categorically reject this contention. [...] The rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas deplorable as they are, do not, in terms of scale and effect amount to an armed attack entitling Israel to rely on self-defence. Under international law self-defence is an act of last resort and is subject to the customary rules of proportionality and necessity. [...] The killing of almost 800 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and more than 3,000 injuries, accompanied by the destruction of schools, mosques, houses, UN compounds and government buildings, which Israel has a responsibility to protect under the Fourth Geneva Convention, is not commensurate to the deaths caused by Hamas rocket fire. [...] Israel’s actions amount to aggression, not self-defence, not least because its assault on Gaza was unnecessary. Israel could have agreed to renew the truce with Hamas."
  • Israeli assault may actually increase support for Hamas Haaretz Newspaper: "In all likelihood, the current war will not lead to an Israeli victory. In such a case, Israel will have to forget about its objective of capturing the Gaza Strip. Such an outcome will help to consolidate the legitimacy of the Hamas movement, and all the efforts of Israel to eliminate that fundamental pillar of resistance will produce the reverse result. In such a scenario, Israel will be compelled to sign a ceasefire agreement."


[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Proportionality: Were Israeli strikes proportional to the Hamas attacks?

[Add New]

Pro

  • Gaza assault rightly preempts Hamas' existential threat to Israel Hamas has stated that its objective is to destroy Israel. Such an existential threat goes beyond simply Hamas' rocket attacks, as it portends much more destructive attacks in the future. This justifies defensive attacks from Israel that go beyond responding merely to the Hamas rockets, and even justifies Israeli efforts to fully demobilize or destroy Hamas.
  • Hamas is not a "victim" of "excessive" Israeli force "Defending Israel's Operations in Gaza". Aisha - "[...]Given the Palestinian fire power and their willingness to use it, it is clear that the charge of "excessive force" is simply the latest incarnation of the Palestinian strategy of 'victimhood.' Terror groups fire indiscriminately at innocent Israelis and then complain of excessive or disproportionate force when Israel fires back. But according to internationally accepted laws of war, Israel is permitted to respond with the force necessary to end the conflict."


[Add New]

Con

"Israel’s bombardment of Gaza is not self-defence – it’s a war crime". Times Online. January 11, 2009 - "The killing of almost 800 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and more than 3,000 injuries, accompanied by the destruction of schools, mosques, houses, UN compounds and government buildings, which Israel has a responsibility to protect under the Fourth Geneva Convention, is not commensurate to the deaths caused by Hamas rocket fire.
For 18 months Israel had imposed an unlawful blockade on the coastal strip that brought Gazan society to the brink of collapse. In the three years after Israel’s redeployment from Gaza, 11 Israelis were killed by rocket fire. And yet in 2005-8, according to the UN, the Israeli army killed about 1,250 Palestinians in Gaza, including 222 children. Throughout this time the Gaza Strip remained occupied territory under international law because Israel maintained effective control over it."
  • Israel's severe response damages nation's moral stature. Israel ruthless attack on Gaza and the massive civilian casualties it has inflicted has severely damaged the nation's moral stature in the world. This moral deficit will cause problems for Israel in its future engagements in the world.


[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Civilians: Who is in the right in regards to civilian casualties?

[Add New]

Pro

  • Israel strikes military not civilians targets, unlike Hamas Al Jazeera interview of Gary Grant on January 5th, 2009 - "[Al Jazeera]: Surely the killing of civilians is against international law and the targeting of populated areas where you know that civilians are going to die is against international law. [...] [Gary Grant]: Even if you target your action at military sites, civilians are inevitably going to get killed...these need to be contrasted with the actions of Hamas where every single rocket is designed to attack civilian populations, so every single act of Hamas in firing these rockets is clearly an illegal act without any legal justification."[3]
Steve Hunegs. "Editorial counterpoint: The justice of Israel's actions". Star Tribune. January 6, 2009 - "At its crux, Hamas targets civilians. Israel, on the other hand, conducts its operations exercising all due care to limit civilian casualties. Hamas terrorists, however, set up their headquarters and store weapons in private homes, schools, colleges and mosques. Both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit have blamed Hamas for provoking the Israeli attack on Hamas targets embedded in civilian areas."
  • Civilians were killed because Hamas locates rockets amid civilians "Israel's Gaza Defense". Wall Street Journal. December 29th, 2008 - "Israel's air assault has resulted in more Palestinian casualties, but that is in part because Hamas deliberately locates its security forces in residential neighborhoods. This is intended both to deter Israel from attacking in the first place as well as to turn world opinion against the Jewish state when it does attack. By all accounts, however, the Israeli strikes have hit their targets precisely enough to do significant damage to Hamas forces -- both to its leadership and, on Sunday, to the tunnels from Gaza to Egypt that Hamas uses to smuggle in weapons and build its growing army."
  • Israel has fewer deaths because of warning systems and hospitals Israel invests significantly more in stable buildings that do not crumble when subjected a blast, in warning systems for incoming rockets, and invests in an extensive and modern network of hospitals and emergency response teams. This, and the fact that Israel does not use civilians as shields for its weapons, helps lower the number of civilian casualties as compared to in Gaza.
[Add New]

Con

  • Precision Israel attacks were never possible in crowded Gaza Akiva Eldar wrote in Haaretz: "The tremendous population density in the Gaza Strip does not allow a 'surgical operation' over an extended period that would minimize damage to civilian populations. The difficult images from the Strip will soon replace those of the damage inflicted by Qassam rockets in the western Negev. The scale of losses, which works in 'favor' of the Palestinians, will return Israel to the role of Goliath."[5]
  • Israel's use of white phosphorous in Gaza was a humanitarian crime. The use of white phosphorous by Israel to shield its military movements in Gaza was a humanitarian crime, as the chemical causes serious health problems to civilians that inhale it. And, by all accounts, the chemical was inhaled by many Gazan civilians.
  • All Israelis serve in military; Hamas rockets have military target. Many say that Hamas' rocket attacks indiscriminately target Israeli citizens. Yet, all citizens in Israel must serve in the military. In a sense, this means that the entire Israeli population is a legitimate military target for Hamas.[6]
[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Ceasefire: Is Hamas to blame for breaking the cease-fire?

[Add New]

Pro


[Add New]

Con

  • Israel was never committed to ceasefire, consistently violating it Isreal has killed 50 civilians in the so-called ceasefire period.
[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Blame for conflict: Who is to blame as the primary cause of the conflict?

[Add New]

Pro

  • Hamas caused blockade/conflict by adopting terrorism Ephraim Sneh. "Why Israel Is Bombing Gaza". Washington Post. January 1, 2009 - "In January 2006, rule over Gaza passed to the Hamas government under Ismail Haniyeh. Instead of bringing investors to Gaza, the Hamas government brought the guerrilla-warfare trainers of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. [...] In June 2007, in a brutal and bloody military coup, Hamas took control of Gaza and soon killed or chased out the leaders of President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement. Gaza became nothing less than a military base for Iran. [...] The Hamas takeover is what in effect locked the gates of Gaza and forced its residents to suffer."
  • Hamas could have ended blockade by simply recognizing Israel "Israel gambles in Gaza". USA Today. December 30, 2008 - "Hamas says its missile fire is justified. It contends that Israel is behaving like a capricious jailer to Gaza's Palestinians. Besides controlling air and sea access, Israel won't open border crossings into Israel with any consistency — as a result, Palestinians don't have access to the regular trade and jobs that can make their economy viable. Palestinians in Gaza live in dire and growing poverty. All of that is true, but Hamas could change the situation in an instant simply by credibly recognizing Israel's right to exist."
  • Israel is not an "occupier" and responsible for Gazans Shlomo Dror, spokesman for Israel's coordinator of government activities in the territories, said in 2007, "We regarded the area as the seed of a Palestinian state. But now Hamas rules there, we disengaged, and now we have nothing to do with it. [...] with the abolition of the military government in Gaza and in light of the current security situation, the State of Israel bears no responsibility to take care of the various interests of Gaza residents."[7]


[Add New]

Con

  • Israel caused conflict by terrorizing Gaza with blockade Rashid Khalidi. "What You Don’t Know About Gaza". New York Times. January 7, 2009 - "As the [de facto] occupying power, Israel has the responsibility under the Fourth Geneva Convention to see to the welfare of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip. [...] Israel’s blockade of the strip, with the support of the United States and the European Union, has grown increasingly stringent since Hamas won the Palestinian Legislative Council elections in January 2006. Fuel, electricity, imports, exports and the movement of people in and out of the Strip have been slowly choked off, leading to life-threatening problems of sanitation, health, water supply and transportation. [...] The blockade has subjected many to unemployment, penury and malnutrition. This amounts to the collective punishment — with the tacit support of the United States — of a civilian population for exercising its democratic rights."
Maher Najjar. "Fire and Water in Gaza". Washington Post. November 27, 2007 - On Sept. 19, the Israeli government declared the Gaza Strip "hostile territory" and authorized steps to punish its civilian population. It decided that every Qassam rocket fired into Israel would carry a price tag: cutting the supply of electricity and fuel that Israel sells to Gaza. This assumes that disrupting civilian life in Gaza will have positive political results for Israel.
Gaza's 1.5 million residents have been living with collective punishment for some time. We have endured years of border closures, aerial attacks and military operations -- measures Israel has always explained as militarily necessary. But now, Israeli politicians claim it is legitimate to deprive all of Gaza's civilians of basic needs.
Israel controls Gaza's borders and the movement of all people and goods. Since Hamas came to power in June, Israel has tightened its siege. It has banned raw materials for manufacturing and construction; only basic foodstuffs are permitted into Gaza, and exports have been halted. Gaza's economy is suffocating: Since June, 85 percent of its factories and 95 percent of its construction projects have been paralyzed. More than 70,000 people have lost their jobs. A million and a half people are locked in a pressure cooker in one of the world's most densely populated areas. Stripped of the ability to travel, receive goods or engage in productive work, Gaza's residents have become dependent on Western and Islamic aid organizations.
  • Israel indiscriminately targeted Gazan civilians in blockade. According to Hebrew University international law expert Yuval Shani, "It is my opinion that in this situation, and given the question marks regarding Israel's status in Gaza and Gaza's long-standing dependency on Israel, cutting off its water and electricity supplies would be equivalent to a direct attack on a civilian target, especially given that the motive for doing so is one of collective punishment, which is, in itself, a problematic motive."[8]
  • Israel failed its responsibilities as an occupier of Gaza By controlling Gaza's borders, trade, electricity and water, Israel has remained an "occupying" force over Gaza. By international law, this requires that Israel uphold the humanitarian interests of Gazans. The blockade clearly violated this obligation and was a major cause of the conflict.



[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Iran: Were Israel's Gaza strikes valuable in its efforts to contain Iran?

[Add New]

Pro


[Add New]

Con

  • Attacking Gaza distracts Israel from Iranian threat Israel's main strategic threat is Iran. By attacking Gaza, Israel distracted itself from containing the Iranian threat. Furthermore, Israel's attack has helped bolster Iran's case in the region against Israel.
  • Gaza assault bolsters Iran's radical message against Israel "Divided on Gaza.". Washington Post. December 30, 2008: "Israel's offensive gives Iran and its allies a way to pressure Egypt, Jordan and other Arab "moderates." Like the Lebanon war of 2006, Israel's battle with Hamas in Gaza is producing a schism among Muslim states. Iran and its ally Hezbollah in Lebanon have joined Hamas's Damascus-based leadership in calling for a new intifada, or uprising, against Israel -- and also against the governments of Egypt and Jordan, which are accused of silently supporting Israel's air attacks."


[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section up]

Pro/con resource

[Add New]

Pro


[Add New]

Con


See also

External links

Problem with the site? 

Tweet a bug on bugtwits
.