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Israel, Gaza, and Proportionality

Simply counting the dead does not produce a moral verdict.

· 7 min read
Israel, Gaza, and Proportionality
A column of smoke resulting from the Israeli bombing of the Gaza Strip, March 6, 2023. Photo by Mohammed Ibrahim on Unsplash

With each conflagration in the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Hamas-dominated Gaza Strip, the question of the proportionality of Israel’s response to terrorist activities reemerges. Since proportionality is considered a necessary element in the justification of military action according to international humanitarian law, this question is important. Yet despite the countless commentators, experts, anchors, and analysts offering their impressions, the matter remains deeply perplexing, given that no one ever provides a reasonably clear criterion as to what proportionality entails or how it is to be identified. How then should we think about this in a way that would help to make sense of events?

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