In its recent invasions of Lebanon and Gaza, Israel once again has showed how willing it is to disregard morality and collectively punish thousands of innocent people. Israel certainly has a right to defend itself (i.e. targeted strikes against Gaza militants and Hezbollah guerillas are morally justifiable), but what right does Israel have to:
1) Punish all of Gaza's residents with sleep depriving sonic boom? Several press reports have detailed the Israel Defense Force's use of sonic booms over the last two weeks to terrorize the civilian population in Gaza. I would like to know the utility such an action has in fighting terrorism.
2) Bomb Gaza's only power plant? According to the New York Times, "after the damage to the power plant, most Gazans get only six hours of electricity a day, at unpredictable times, so refrigeration of food becomes a problem. So does water supply, because many Gazans use electric pumps to get their water, and there are similar problems with sewage treatment." What crime have these Gazans committed that warrants such punishment?
3) Keep 4,000 people, some of them needing urgent medical attention, waiting in stifling heat to enter their own country? According to the New York Times, "two more Palestinians died Tuesday on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing while waiting in the heat to cross back into Gaza. According to Egyptian officials speaking to news agencies, two teenagers died: a boy, 18, from heatstroke and a girl, 19, who had recently undergone surgery in Egypt. The Rafah crossing has been closed for two weeks, and some 4,000 people are waiting there, according to the United Nations. The Red Cross said 578 of those waiting were “urgent humanitarian cases.” Israel has offered to let them into Gaza through a different crossing, Kerem Shalom, which means going through Israel. But the Palestinian Authority has refused, saying there is an international agreement allowing direct travel between Gaza and Egypt."
4) Destroy homes and force evacuations? According to the New York Times, "Like many of the people here [in Gaza], mostly poor farmers, the Edbarys have heeded the Israeli call to evacuate their homes to escape the fighting and are sleeping in United Nations schools in nearby Rafah...the Israeli incursion into the airport and its neighborhood, with tanks and armored bulldozers and artillery, destroyed some of the narrow roads and made it difficult if not impossible for farmers to get to their fields or to bring in food."
5) Kill innocent civilians? According to Reuters, "Israel killed at least 34 civilians on Saturday, including 15 children, in air strikes meant to punish Lebanon for letting Hezbollah guerrillas menace the Jewish state's northern border...An Israeli missile incinerated a van in southern Lebanon, killing 20 people, among them 15 children, in the deadliest single attack of the campaign launched by Israel after Hezbollah captured two of its soldiers and killed eight on Wednesday.Police said the van was carrying two families fleeing the village of Marwaheen after Israeli loudspeaker warnings to leave their homes. Many of the bodies were charred and broken.Other raids on north, east and south Lebanon killed 14 people and wounded 37, security sources said.At least 103 people, all but four of them civilians, have been killed in Israel's four-day-old assault, which has choked Lebanon's economy and prompted tourists and foreigners to flee."
All of the above actions by Israel are clear evidence that the county is engaged in a disproportionate response to any attacks on its soil. The rockets fired by Gaza militants and Hezbollah have not injured or killed nearly as many innocent Israelis in recent weeks or recent years. In fact, four Israeli civilians have been killed by Hezbollah bombs this week, and, according to the New York Times, "Palestinians in Gaza fired several thousand mortar shells and rockets from 2001 to 2005, killing 12 Israelis — 8 of them in Israel and 4 in Gaza, the Israeli military said…Since the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, the Palestinians have fired about 700 rockets at southern Israel, causing injuries and damage, but no deaths."
Israel’s obvious intention is to punish the civilian population in Gaza and Lebanon, apparently in the hope that they will cease to support militants in their country. This intention is made clear by Israel's actions: recent press reports have noted how Israel has broadcast messages in Gaza over load speakers that asked Gazans if their punishment was worth electing Hamas. Apparently the Israeli government has learned nothing since it came into existence -- that is, for fifty years Israel has used an iron fist to deal with its hostile neighbors and for fifty years they have seen terrorism and resentment against it grow, not subside. It is time for Israel to try a new approach and allow UN peacekeepers in the region. With U.S. backing, they have consistently rejected peacekeepers in the region; it makes one wonder whether they really want peace at all.