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Must Read: Israel’s Doctrine of Proportionality in Gaza by Dore Gold

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Israel’s Doctrine of Proportionality in Gaza – Dore Gold (Los Angeles Times)
(dailyalert.org, Aug. 1, 2014)

The images of destruction in Gaza have caused many to declare that the Israel Defense Forces are behaving “disproportionately” and using excessive force in the Shajaiya neighborhood in Gaza. These accusations have no merit.

Shajaiya was crisscrossed with an elaborate network of underground bunkers and tunnels containing equipment for the manufacture of rockets, storage facilities for rockets and other weapons, and launching sites from which the rockets were fired at Israeli towns.

Israel had three choices in how to deal with Shajaiya:

First, it could have decided that it had every right to use overwhelming force to neutralize the neighborhood with air power, ignoring the question of collateral damage to civilians, much like the Allied bombing campaigns of World War II, or NATO’s three-month campaign against Yugoslavia in 1999, in which 40,000 homes were destroyed. This option was not considered.

Second, Israel could have decided there was nothing it could do, thus allowing Hamas to strike at Israeli population centers with impunity. Such a decision would have granted Hamas a license to kill Israelis, something no Israeli government – or, indeed, any accountable democracy – could do.

Finally, Israel decided to separate, as much as possible, the civilian population from the Hamas fighters and arms in their midst. This required getting the Palestinian population to evacuate potential target areas, by dropping leaflets with evacuation routes, breaking into Hamas radio broadcasts with warnings about specific areas, Arabic-language telephone calls to homes, and text messages to cellphones. An Israeli drone would hover over the area to ensure that residents had left.

Against this Israeli effort, Hamas employed a counter-strategy of trying to prevent civilians from heeding Israeli warnings. On July 8, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called on Gazans to serve as human shields against Israeli air attacks, and Hamas enforcers sought to dissuade civilians from fleeing.


Anyone who complains about “disproportionality” must explain exactly what the IDF should have done to neutralize the terrorist threat while causing less destruction than what occurred.

The writer, who served as Israel’s UN ambassador, is an advisor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

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