web analytics
October 22, 2014 / 28 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

The Doctrine of Proportionality


Gaza

This article was first published by the Gatestone Institute.

Proportionality in international law is not about equality of death or civilian suffering, or even about [equality of] firepower. Proportionality weighs the necessity of a military action against suffering that the action might cause to enemy civilians in the vicinity.

“Under international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute, the death of civilians during an armed conflict, no matter how grave and regrettable does not constitute a war crime…. even when it is known that some civilian deaths or injuries will occur. A crime occurs if there is an intentional attack directed against civilians (principle of distinction) or an attack is launched on a military objective in the knowledge that the incidental civilian injuries would be clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage (principle of proportionality).” — Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor, International Criminal Court.

“The greater the military advantage anticipated, the larger the amount of collateral damage — often civilian casualties — which will be “justified” and “necessary.” — Dr. Françoise Hampton, University of Essex, UK.

As the Israeli ground incursion into Gaza continues, increased attention will be focused on the notion of “proportionality” in both the number of casualties on both sides and the sophistication of the weapons each side brings to bear. Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg characterized Israel’s operations against Hamas in language that came close to an accusation of war crimes. “I really do think now the Israeli response appears to be deliberately disproportionate. It is amounting now to a disproportionate form of collective punishment.” Even President Obama, who has been a firm advocate of Israel’s self-defense in this instance, told reporters that he “encouraged” Prime Minister Netanyahu to “minimize civilian deaths.”

An Israeli journalist called Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system “unsportsmanlike.” He wondered what FIFA would say “if Germany, with its superior economy and industry, were to replace Manuel Neuer with a bionic goalkeeper… capable of calculating where each Argentine ball will come from, the exact position to stand in and amount of force needed to block it… On the modern battlefield (Israel) is a bionic Germany.”

How unsportsmanlike!

Even among Israel’s friends – and some Israelis – a “yes, but…” response is common. “Yes” Hamas started it; “Yes” Hamas puts military infrastructure in civilian neighborhoods; “Yes” Israel is entitled to self-defense, “Yes” the Israelis warn Palestinians. “But” more than 240 Palestinians have been killed to date and only one Israeli has died directly from rocket fire.

Isn’t that the definition of “disproportionate?” No. It isn’t.

Proportionality in international law is not about equality of death or civilian suffering, or even about firepower returned being equal in sophistication or lethality to firepower received. Proportionality weighs the military necessity of an action against the suffering that the action might cause to enemy civilians in the vicinity. A review of expert opinion – none of which was written in relation to Israel – helps to clarify. [All emphases below added.]

Prof. Horst Fischer, Academic Director of the Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum in Germany, and Adjunct Professor at Columbia University, wrote in The Crimes of War Project:

The principle of proportionality is embedded in almost every national legal system and underlies the international legal order. Its function in domestic law is to relate means to ends… In the conduct of war, when a party commits a lawful attack against a military objective, the principle of proportionality also comes into play whenever there is collateral damage, that is, civilian casualties or damage to a non-military objective… attacks are prohibited if they cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, or damage to civilian objects that is excessive in relation to the anticipated concrete and direct military advantage of the attack. This creates a permanent obligation for military commanders to consider the results of the attack compared to the advantage anticipated.

Exactly as Israel does when it aborts missions after finding civilians used as human shields on rooftops.

About the Author: Shoshana Bryen is Senior Director of The Jewish Policy Center. She was previously Senior Director of JINSA and author of JINSA Reports form 1995-2011.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

6 Responses to “The Doctrine of Proportionality”

  1. Uzi Kattan says:

    The Demonic creatures of Gaza attack civilians and should get no mercy when their civilians are killed.

  2. God Almighty bless, Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanjahu. Israel holds a strong defense with the bravest and best educated soldiers in the world. You defeat your evil enemies and with all your knowledge of living daily with those evil enemies. Save the world from this evilness. Amen

  3. Skid Marks says:

    NO PROPORTIONALITY REQUIRED ! KILL ALL OF ISRAEL’S ENEMIES !

  4. Skid Marks says:

    NO PROPORTIONALITY REQUIRED ! KILL ALL OF ISRAEL’S ENEMIES !

  5. Sam Bromley says:

    God is on the side of the Israelis!!! Hamas has sent over 1,705 rockets with the intent of murdering children by the 1,000s. They are just poor shots. Israel protects itself with precision firing of missles at those firing these rockets making sure they hit their target and not kill civilians! FACT! The only problem is, these Hamas cowards strap children onto their backs and place their rockets in the homes of children for the exact purpose for liberals to blame Israel for killing babies! FACT! Israel is saving children by wiping Hamas off the face of the earth!!!!!!!!!!! ISRAEL, GOD CHOSEN PEOPLE!!

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Israel's Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations David Roet, at a UNSC meeting held July 22, 2014 regarding the Palestinian Arab-Israeli conflict.
Israel Attempts to Insert Reason into UN Debate About Middle East
Latest Indepth Stories
Noah and his Family; mixed media collage by Nathan Hilu. Courtesy Hebrew Union College Museum

Myth #1: It is easy to be a B’nai Noach. It is extraordinarily hard to be a B’nai Noach.

Sweden prefers to ignore its own problems and make trouble elsewhere.

The question of anti-Semitism in Europe today is truly tied to the issue of immigration.

256px-Israel-Palestine_flags.svg

Polls indicate that the Palestinians are much more against a two state solution than the Israelis.

Map of Syria-Turkish border area, pinpointing Kurdish border town of Kobani, just taken by ISIS terror forces Oct 7, 2014.

Turkey and Iran the 2 regional powers surrounding the ISIS conflict gain from a partial ISIS victory

Emigration from Israel is at an all-time low, far lower than immigration to Israel from Europe.

Leon Klinghoffer’s daughters: “‘Klinghoffer’ is justified as ‘a work of art’…This is an outrage.”

Do you seriously think that as you kidnap our children we should medically treat and help yours?

Sometimes collective action against the heinous acts of the majority is not enough. The world should not only support the blockade of Gaza; it must enforce the dismantling of Hamas.

The Arab Spring has challenged Jordan with the task of gradual reform with regard to its monarchy.

Israel offered Syria the entire Golan Heights, only to find that the Syrians were demanding MORE!

Israeli hasbara too can be described at best as pathetic, at worst non existent.

A ‘good news’ story from the Nepal avalanche disaster to warm your heart. Take out your Kleenex.

Journalists see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as morality play: Israel=evil; Palestine=innocent

Warsaw Ghetto: At its height, the Nazis walled in some 500,000 Jews within the1.3 square mile area.

While police officers face dangers every day on the job, Jews also face danger in their daily lives.

Carter developed a fondness for Arafat believing “they were both ordained to be peacemakers by God”

More Articles from Shoshana Bryen
Gaza

Proportionality Doctrine:The greater the military gain the greater the justifiable collateral damage

International Security Assistance Force Commander Gen. John R. Allen.

It appears not to have occurred to Condoleezza Rice that Palestinian statehood was incompatible with Israeli security.

The 686 men who expressed their desire to run in Iran’s presidential election were whittled down to 8.

Does Kerry think it would be better for Israel to approach negotiations from a position of precarious poverty?

Neither Secretary of State Kerry nor the president he serves seem to understand Russia’s goals in the Middle East.

The fourth Great War is less ‘Islam against the West’ than it is Sunni expansionists vs. Shiite expansionists.

This is the functional equivalent of agreeing not to swing the wrecking ball after you’ve set the house on fire.

President Obama, perhaps inadvertently, made the case for U.S.-Israel relations grounded in the most fundamental shared values.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-doctrine-of-proportionality/2014/07/20/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: