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Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel addressed the United Nations General Assembly.

Benjamin Netanyahu UN General Assembly
Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the UN General Assembly.
 
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Gaza 2014: Proportionality and Collective Punishment

July 10, 2014  |  Eli E. Hertz

On June 12, 2014, coinciding with the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers, Hamas intensified its barrage of rockets and has steadily expanded not only its actions, but its radius as well, aiming as far north as the suburbs of Haifa and as deep as the holy city itself, Jerusalem.

It would be a denial of reality to assume that only a small group of terrorists could be involved in the numerous of documented acts of terror by Palestinian Arabs. In the nine years since Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, Hamas has launched countless rockets directly at civilian populations in Israel. It would be reckless to assume that these acts of terror are isolated, undertaken independently, without the direct involvement of the Palestinian populace and the leadership they opt to elect.

Israel is often portrayed in the media, by Western leaders, human rights activists and the many different organs of the United Nations as inflicting disproportionate and collective punishment on many Palestinian Arabs for the deeds of a few terrorists.

Ironically, the prohibition of imposing "collective penalties [punishment]  intimidation and terrorism" that Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention talks about, should be applied in this case to the millions of innocent men, women, and children of Israel that are collectively being punished day-in and day-out by Arab terrorists for "offenses" they never "personally committed." As to the "terrorism" Article 33 speaks about; it is the Israelis that fight to prevent Palestinian terrorism, and not the other way around.

Interestingly, the British in 1929 thought that collective punishment was a perfectly legitimate measure when inhabitants of Arab villages attacked the Jews. This collective punishment was not merely a single necessary step, but actually an existing ordinance of the British Mandate supported by the League of Nations, in dealing with Arab terrorism:

“Collective Punishments. The Collective Punishments Ordinances were applied to the [Arab] towns and villages whose inhabitants were guilty of participation in the concerted attacks on Jews at Hebron, Safad, Motza, Artuf, Beer-Tuvia, and heavy fines were inflicted."

Throughout history, Jews were law-abiding, peaceful people defending themselves against Arab aggression. In a 1946 Report, the Anglo-American Committee described its observation regarding Jews living in the land of Palestine:

"The Jew had to train himself for self-defense, and to accustom himself to the life of a pioneer in an armed stockade. Throughout the Arab rising, the Jews in the National Home, despite every provocation, obeyed the orders of their leaders and exercised a remarkable self-discipline. They shot, but only in self-defense; they rarely took reprisals on the Arab." Israel's reaction to Arab aggression is nothing more than a measured, fair response designed "to effectively terminate the attack [s]" by a conglomerate of Palestinian Arab terrorists, supported by Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah, in order to prevent its recurrence.

Palestinian Arabs, by their first use of armed force against Israeli civilians and non-combatant Jews in contravention of the United Nations Charter, constituted prima facie [Latin: on its face] evidence of an act of aggression - aggression being defined by international law as "the most serious and dangerous form of illegal use of force."

Therefore, the rule of proportionality in this case of continuous aggression needs to be met by Israeli acts that will induce the aggressors to comply with its international obligations. Israel countermeasures need not be the exact equivalent of the breaching act.Judge Schwebel, the former president of the International Court of Justice is quoted saying:

"In the case of action taken for the specific purpose of halting and repelling an armed attack, this does not mean that the action should be more or less commensurate with the attack."

The perception among Palestinians that politically motivated violence is legitimate and effective is nothing new. From a broader perspective, if the Palestinians are rewarded with political gains following their acts of aggression, it can be expected that other radical groups will also make use of their tactics. Israel will no longer be the main target.
 
 
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