The Folly of Proportionate Response

Israel has often been accused of disproportionate response to terror attacks coming from Lebanon, the Gaza strip and the West Bank and in some cases, for example after the kidnap of two soldiers to Lebanon by Hezbolla’s in 2006, its response had been quite robust, and justly so. However, the truth is that in the vast majority of cases, Israel is very reluctant to act decisively for fear of causing collateral damage and casualties, upsetting Egyptian sensitivities, bringing on international criticism and law suits and 101 other reasons given as for why it should respond very cautiously, or better still – not respond at all (“Restraint is power”, we hear from leading Israeli politicians, with Hammas’ and Islamic Jihad’s laughter and glee echoing in the background).

So time and again we hear of abandoned shacks, empty smuggling tunnels and all too often just sand dunes and open fields being targeted and attacked, usually in the middle of the night. Everything to ensure that some crate or another is not upset.

The trouble with all this is that proportionate response simply doesn’t work. It leaves Israel’s enemies in full control of the situation, letting them decide when to increase the level of flames, when to reduce it, when to stop exchanges all together and when to start them again at will.

The only response that achieves effective deterrence and puts an abrupt end to this ridiculous cycle, at least for some time, is a totally disproportionate one. And it should be applied with zero tolerance – every launched rocket, every exploding roadside bomb, every anti-tank missile fired at a school bus and every suicide bomber detonating herself on a crowded bus should trigger an immediate, pre-planned and harsh retaliatory attack on several assets close to the heart of terror organisations leaders: headquarters, training camps, weapon production and storage sites and when required, on terrorist leaders themselves, in their own homes.

Past experience proves that when this approach is applied, it is the terrorists themselves who come crawling for a cease fire, usually with the mediation of some interested third party hoping to make some political gains from its involvement. The important thing is – it works, and it does bring precious peace, even if temporary, to Israeli children, farmers, commuters and town dwellers.

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