In both Gaza and Mullativu, militants embedded within civilian populations were bombed at great human cost. What makes these cases different? In short, I’d say the difference is proportionality. Many civilians died in Sri Lanka, but a decades long war was ended. They died for a proportional military objective. In Palestine, however, many civilians died for the Israeli’s to find some tunnels and slow down some mostly ineffective rocket fire. That was not, in my opinion, a military objective proportional to killing so many civilians, destroying so much infrastructure and collectively punishing a population they already held under siege.
Similarities And Differences
The cases of Israel and Sri Lanka are somewhat similar. Both countries faced a military/terrorist threat embedded in a civilian population. The difference, however, is in proportionality. Essentially value for violence. In Sri Lanka attacking and finishing the LTTE was proportional to ending the 30 year civil war once and for all. In Palestine, bombing has killed thousands of people, mostly civilians, destroyed infrastructure ranging from electricity to water and sewage and produced … not even nearly an end to that conflict, probably an aggravation.
Meanwhile Israel continues to besiege Gaza, keeping people from getting in or out and restricting access to fishing, agriculture and trade. The Israeli assault on Gaza has not been proportional to the gains. In the whole conflict Israeli has incurred three civilian casualties. It’s hard to say that the conflict was proportional at all.
As awful as it is, there has been very little value for violence in Gaza. The conflict hasn’t ended and Hamas is stronger if anything. Israel is still hemming those people into a tiny strip of land and periodically ‘mowing the grass’ by killing them every few years. I’d say that they’re military action isn’t proportional at all, even in the face of a terrorist threat. It’s also not proportional in the sense that destroying tunnels is worth destroying so many lives.
In reality, the only just war is one that ends. Israel isn’t fighting to end the war, to end Hamas and certainly not for the eventual citizenship of Gazans. It’s just an instinctive lashing out against troubling but mostly managed terrorism to the detriment and collective punishment of people already isolated and denied sovereignty and basic rights.
That, in my opinion is the difference between the fighting in Sri Lanka and Gaza. Both tragedies, but the actions by Israeli were not, in the language of ‘lawful’ war, proportional at all.