When has war ever been ‘proportional?’
Proportionality in war is a synonym for lethal stalemate, if not defeat.
The purpose of war is to defeat the enemy as quickly as possible with the least number of casualities — and thereby achieve political ends.
So, every side aims to find superior strategies, tactics, weapons, and manpower to ensure as great a disproportionate advantage as possible.
Hamas is no exception.
First, Hamas spent a year planning a preemptive butchery spree inside Israel. Its ruthless murdering focused on “soft targets” like unarmed elderly, women, children, and infants, mostly asleep at a time of peace and holiday.
Second, it sought to collectively shock Israel into paralysis by the sheer horror of decapitating civilians, burning babies, mass raping, and mutilating bodies.
Third, the gunmen took more than 240 hostages back with them to Gaza.
Fourth, all the while Hamas shot rockets into Israel, more than 7,000 in total, and all aimed at civilians.
Not one launch was preceded by dropping leaflets or sending text messages to Israeli civilians to vacate the intended target areas — a protocol often used by the Israel Defense Forces.
The unapologetic aim was to kill thousands of Israelis at random and disproportionately.
In fact, in just the last few four weeks, Hamas has launched more than twice as many rockets into Israel as Nazi Germany managed to launch V-2s into Britain in five months.
Fifth, Hamas sought to create a multibillion-dollar tunnel city beneath Gaza. The labyrinth’s sole purposes were to stockpile weapons and ensure safe havens for terrorists to shoot rockets and regroup after their terrorist missions.
Sixth, the subterranean headquarters of Hamas elites, along with weapons depots, were strategically placed under hospitals, mosques, and schools to “shield” them from Israeli attacks.
The expectation was that the IDF would be hesitant to target such “civilian” and “humanitarian” areas in a way Hamas never would.
Seventh, Hamas forced the civilians of Gaza to remain among the street fighting. They often shot those who resisted. They also killed Gazans who fled the city.
Eighth, Hamas bragged that it could repeat strategies 1-7 endlessly on the supposition Israel would tire, the world would turn against the Jewish state, and it at last could murder enough Jews to end Israel altogether.
Israel in turn seeks its own disproportionate response to defeat Hamas.
First, it seeks to single out and kill the actual Hamas terrorists, and especially the 2,000 or so killers of October 7.
Second, it tries to warn civilians to flee anywhere that Hamas masses. Just as Hamas wants its own civilians killed for propaganda purposes, so Israel seeks to avoid killing them.
Third, by targeting Hamas and warning civilians to keep their distance, Israel does not deny that there will be collateral damage.
But it hopes to convince the world that any civilian deaths are mostly the fault of Hamas and not the IDF.
And to the degree that Gaza City is left in rubble, Israel wishes to remind its enemies that the wages of murdering Jewish infants unfortunately will be a disproportionate response, whose full effects will deter any future attack.
Fourth, Israel understands that a country of 9-10 million is facing a virulently hostile 500 million-person Arab Middle East. The United Nations is on the side of Hamas. A now antisemitic Europe has been hijacked by immigrants from the Middle East. Israel’s sole patron, the United States, is buffeted by a hard-left new Democratic Party that is not a reliable partner.
The result is that Israel still cannot conduct a fully disproportionate war without endangering its source of military resupply in the United States, and a wider conflict with the Islamic world.
And so, the war continues.
Hamas strives for a more disproportionate terrorist agenda to prolong the war. And Israel strives for a more disproportionate retaliation to end it.
The anger arises at Israel mostly because it is Jewish, and thus far its conventional disproportionality is proving more effective than the terrorist disproportionality of Hamas.