Like Shooting Fish in a Barrel
Heartbreaking. That's the only word I have for the most recent round of Israeli-Palestinian violence. As I write, Israeli F-16s have retaliated for Hamas-initiated rocket fire on innocent Israeli suburbs. The death total at the moment: 225 Palestinians killed (400 injured), 1 Israeli dead from rockets. While we can debate about what constitutes the just use of force and the morality of eye-for-an-eye retaliation, the sheer imbalance here is overwhelming. Israel possesses the fourth strongest army in the world, is a nuclear power, and is far and away more powerful than the Palestinians and their Arab neighbors combined. The Gaza Strip is one of the world's most densely populated areas, called the largest penitentiary in the world: over 1.5 million Palestinians live enclosed here--they cannot come or go at will. For Israeli jets to bomb Hamas strongholds in Gaza is to guarantee the death of scores of innocent Palestinian bystanders, who, through no choice of their own, live all around the militants. The death of these noncombatants, by anyone's standards, is not just. The Gazans--Muslim, Christian, radical, moderate--have nowhere to go: they are surrounded by Israeli military and cannot leave their tiny enclave. Their water and power are turned on and off at the whim of the Israeli military. Their sources of food and medicine are extremely limited. Gazan Palestinians are desperate and theirs is a humanitarian crisis. What Hamas has done is not justifiable, particularly when it targets innocent civilians. But what the Israeli Defense Force and its jets are doing right now is tragic and unjustifiable as well. It's like shooting fish in a barrel.