The Instigator
Watchman81
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The Contender
Peleus
Con (against)
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The Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip was Justified (3rd attempt)

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/16/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 861 times Debate No: 6944
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
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Watchman81

Pro

Okay, I'll try this debate one more time! Maybe the third time's the charm.

My position is that Israel's decision to launch military attacks in the Gaza Strips against the terrorist group Hamas is justified. Israel's goal is to achieve a
viable peace and to stop the rocket fire. The only way for this to happen is for Israel to destroy as much of Hamas' members and their rockets as possible. It is clearly apparent that Hamas does NOT desire peace with Israel. This is why they continue to launch rockets and break cease - fires. If Hamas would stop their
terrorist acts, Israel would have no need to invade their territory.

The only action Israel can take with regard to Hamas militants is force. The question of proportionality is irrelevant. Any country who is attacked in this manner would do what they needed to do to crush the attackers thereby ensuring the
safety of their citizens. As a matter of fact, Israel has not gone nearly as far as they could have. Israel does everything it can to avoid civilian casualties. If it didn't, there would probably be more than double the amount of civilian deaths.

The fact is, Hamas is known to attempt to maximize the number of civilian deaths by intentionally launching their rockets from areas that are densely populated by civilians in order to provoke a response from Israel that will kill civilians. Since Hamas is not willing to stop the terrorist attacks, Israel has no choice but to retaliate.
Peleus

Con

Thank you watchman, I'm looking forward to this debate.

"My position is that Israel's decision to launch military attacks in the Gaza Strips against the terrorist group Hamas is justified."

This is the main statement of my opponent's argument, which I have the burden of disproving, and he has the shared burden of proving. Justified in my mind says that it's a reasonable response to the actions taken against Israel. Obviously this is in regards to self defence. My opponent believes proportionality is irrelevant. I however believe the complete opposite, proportionality is one of the key area's that must be used to justify Israel's decision to invade Gaza.

Put in more common terms, if someone punches me I can punch them back, because this is a reasonable, proportionate response in self defence. If someone punches me I cannot pull out a 12-gauge shotgun and shoot them in the head, because this isn't a reasonable, proportionate response. I will try and show that Israel's response was in no way proportional.

"Any country who is attacked in this manner would do what they needed to do to crush the attackers thereby ensuring the safety of their citizens."

This is, in fact, completely false. Let me take it to the extreme so we can see how this logic is faulty. If a Pakistani militant came onto American soil, pulled out a gun, and shot an American soldier, do you think this is grounds for American to launch a nuclear strike on Pakistan's capital? Of course not, any act of aggression against a country does not give it the right for unrestrained retaliation against the enemy, especially when that enemy is amongst a civilian population.

"The fact is, Hamas is known to attempt to maximize the number of civilian deaths by intentionally launching their rockets from areas that are densely populated by civilians in order to provoke a response from Israel that will kill civilians"

Firstly if Hamas was trying to maximize civilian deaths, they would simply go around and shoot their population. This is completely false. Secondly the onus is on the invading force to provide that a reasonable amount of civilian casualties occur.

This brings us to the causality count. I don't expect myself and my opponent to agree on a firm number. Hamas claims that 1,300 were killed – with 1152 being civilians. Israel is claiming that 1200-1300 died with 700 being militants, and 250 being civilians (what they think the remaining 250 – 350 are I'm not sure). The only non-governmental body to give a body count is the Palestinian centre for human rights, which puts the death toll at 1284, with 894 being civilians, including 280 children and minors, 111 women. [1][2][3]

The point in all this is that it clearly shows that compared to the deaths of 894 innocent people, in the period from 2001 until 2009, 15 people have been killed by Hamas rocket attacks into Gaza.[4] Let me say that again, 15 people killed over an 8 year period, and in retaliation for this latest attack (not even any previous incursions), 894 civilians were killed in response. Why is the Palestinian life worth less than the Israeli? How can Israel say that it's proportionate to attack and cause 5960% more casualties than the action they are responding to?

Now we'll get to the alternatives. Quite simply the Middle East problem is a very long and complex one. I and I doubt my opponent is going to pretend there are any easy answers. I think the only reasonable action to take is through diplomacy, which will hopefully lead to a longer stable peace. The common counter argument is that Israel has a right to defend itself. Let me ask you this. If I'm throwing pebbles at a police officer, at what point is he justified in shooting me? I think it's hard to argue that at any stage that extreme action is justified in response. Does that mean do nothing in the mean time? Basically yes.

If Israel can't guarantee a reasonably low number of civilian casualties in response to the actions of Hamas, then yes I do expect it to take no action. The best way is to continue down the diplomatic path and try and find a resolution that way.

This is also simply talking about the casualties, not mentioning the people who have been left in the humanitarian crisis as a result. 400,000 people are now in the situation where they have no running water. Another 35,000 are being sheltered by the UN, with 50,800 homeless.[5] This is directly attributable to the Israeli invasion of Gaza. Why should so many people be put into this situation when the vast majority are innocent Palestinians trying to get on with their lives?

My opponent also blames Hamas for the conflict, for breaking the cease-fire, essentially saying that if they surrendered there would be no reason for Israel to invade. To that I could also respond that if Israel lifted the blockade on the west bank, and moved out of Israel the fighting would stop also, but that doesn't seem any more likely an option. The summary though is this; the killing of a civilian population cannot be justified because of whichever side started the conflict. It could actually be argued that Israel started the whole thing by its creation, but I'm going to have to say this is probably getting off topic, and we'll keep the discussion to the current invasion.

Finally civilian casualties are not acceptable simply because Hamas fighters are sheltering in the same building. I used this analogy in another debate. Imagine if a murderer ran into a school in the United States, and held the classroom hostage. He then begins to fire at the police from out the window. Are the police justified in blowing up the building, hostages and all, in an effort to minimize the police force casualties, ignoring the hostages? I think we can all imagine the outrage if something like this occurred.

In conclusion I'll highlight my main points.

Proportional response is actually key to justify the invasion of Gaza. In no way is the response of 894 civilian deaths, 50,800 homeless and 400,000 people left without running water proportionate to the 15 Israeli deaths caused over an 8 year period by the rockets they are trying to stop.

Therefore, the Israeli invasion was not justified.

The onus is on the attacking force to ensure that a reasonable number of civilian casualties occur, with 894 being killed, 50,800 left homeless and 400,000 people left without running water, I don't think this burden has been met.

Therefore, the Israeli invasion was not justified.

Civilian deaths are not excusable simply because a militant was in the same building. As a result you cannot say that you are minimising civilian casualties when you simply blow up the whole building with a tank shell ignoring in the civilians inside. I'd also state that there have been plenty of other occurrences when there most likely was not any militant force inside at all.

Therefore, the Israeli invasion was not justified.

I thank my opponent for challenging me to this debate; I hope it can be a fruitful discussion.

[1]- http://www.cbsnews.com...
[2]- http://www.news.com.au...
[3]- http://haaretz.com...
[4]- http://en.wikipedia.org...
[5]- http://news.bbc.co.uk...
Debate Round No. 1
Watchman81

Pro

I would first of all, like to thank my opponent for accepting this debate.

My opponent seems to believe that disproportionality is what makes Israel's invasion unjustifiable.

"Put in more common terms, if someone punches me I can punch them back, because this is a reasonable, proportionate response in self defence. If someone punches me I cannot pull out a 12-gauge shotgun and shoot them in the head, because this isn't a reasonable, proportionate response. I will try and show that Israel's response was in no way proportional."

This example is not even close to being comparable to the situation between Israel and the Palestinians. The Israelis are not attacking Hamas for no reason. They are attacking Hamas to prevent further Israeli casualties. It is terrorist groups like Hamas who are responsible for civilian deaths on both sides of this conflict. Hamas INTENTIONALLY targets Israeli civilians, and they also launch these attacks from densely populated civilian areas in order to maximize Palestinian civilian casualties. They do this to create a win/win situation for themselves. If Israel sees that an area has a heavy civilian presence, it has two undesirable options: 1. Not attack for fear of killing civilians (which Israel has done many times). This would mean that the Hamas terrorists live to fight another day while retaining their rocket launchers. 2. Attack knowing that civilians will get killed in the crossfire, thereby awarding PR victory to Hamas. Palestinian civilian casualties are very useful to Hamas because they can then use it to garner sympathy and support among an international audience who usually does not take the time to find the truth in this conflict.

"This is, in fact, completely false. Let me take it to the extreme so we can see how this logic is faulty. If a Pakistani militant came onto American soil, pulled out a gun, and shot an American soldier, do you think this is grounds for American to launch a nuclear strike on Pakistan's capital? Of course not, any act of aggression against a country does not give it the right for unrestrained retaliation against the enemy, especially when that enemy is amongst a civilian population."

Taking it to the extreme is what defeats my opponents argument! Israel has shown considerable restraint in this conflict. Hamas had been launching rockets into Israel LONG before Israel ever retaliated! And Israel did nothing that would come close to a nuclear attack. Of course a Pakistani soldier shooting an American soldier does not warrant a nuclear attack on Pakistan. But that is not even close to what is happening here. The idea that "any act of aggression against a country does not give it the right for unrestrained retaliation" is absurd. Israel's acts are NOT unrestrained and the blood of the Palestinian civilians that die is on the heads of Hamas. As I stated before, any other nation would take similar action. Israel is the only nation that is expected to tolerate terrorist attacks with a smile. This is completely unfair and ridiculous.

"Firstly if Hamas was trying to maximize civilian deaths, they would simply go around and shoot their population. This is completely false. Secondly the onus is on the invading force to provide that a reasonable amount of civilian casualties occur."

My opponent has completely missed the point here. Hopefully, I have adequately explained this earlier, but I will do so again in order to get the point across. Hamas WANTS Palestinian civilians to die at the hands of the Israeli forces in order to get sympathy for their cause. This is why they intentionally launch their rockets from parks, schools, and houses.

"Now we'll get to the alternatives. Quite simply the Middle East problem is a very long and complex one. I and I doubt my opponent is going to pretend there are any easy answers. I think the only reasonable action to take is through diplomacy, which will hopefully lead to a longer stable peace."

I wish this statement were true, but history has shown that it is not. It takes an incredible amount of naivete to expect that Hamas can be reasoned with. Their charter calls for nothing less than the destruction of Israel. Since Israel does not want to be destroyed, it has no other choice. Israel was able to make peace agreements with Egypt and other Arab nations, but Hamas' ultimate goal is the destruction of Israel. It is not possible to reason with them on this point.
Peleus

Con

I argue now that my opponent has accepted the premise that Israel's attack in response to the actions of Hamas must be proportionate. He has done this by trying to explain away my points and saying that Israel is not committing actions as bad as I described. By trying to argue that it is a proportional response, he accepts the premise it must proportional too be justified.

Let me lay out the bare facts. Assuming that this invasion must be a proportional response to be justified.

Israel suffered 15 Casualties over 8 years, a further 3 civilians in the conflict.

Palestinians in retaliation suffered 894 civilian casualties, 50,800 people were left homeless, and 400,000 in a humanitarian crisis without running water.

I can't seriously think that my opponent believes in any way this is a proportionate response to the terrorist attacks on Israel. What makes a Palestinian life worth less than an Israelis? Why should Israeli be able to punish the lives of 400,000 people in response to the death of 18 of their citizens?

Further more my opponent has tried to simply blame Hamas for all of the casualties, simply saying it's their fault. In response to that I'll make a few points.

Firstly my opponent has not argued against the fact it's the attacking force's responsibility to ensure that only a reasonable number of civilian casualties occur, clearly not what has happened in this invasion. If Israel wishes to defend itself by attacking Hamas the onus is on it to ensure that it doesn't do so while blowing up multiple innocent civilians for it to be justified.

Secondly my opponent simply maintains that because Hamas member is in the area of a civilian, it is his fault if the civilian dies. This is fairly ridiculous to say. Let me give you an example. A Hamas member is seen launching a rocket and run's into a nearby apartment complex known to hold approximately 500 civilians. Israel has three choices. They can either move into there with ground forces, tracking down the militant or capturing him. They can leave him to fight another day because they think the risk to their men is too high. Finally they could drop a 2000 pound bomb onto the building, guaranteeing that they do kill the militant, but also 500 civilians in the process. By your logic, the 500 civilian casualties is the fault of the single Hamas member running into the building, and no moral blame can be assigned to the Israeli commander simply because he is attacking a militant.

Come on now, I think we can agree that with any targeting of a militant force the number of civilian casualties must be taken into account, and you cannot simply lay all following moral consequences of the following action at the feet of the enemy for simply being in a location at the time.

This goes back to my example of a murderer taking hostages inside a building and the police blowing up the building in response. You can assign partial blame to the murder for taking the hostages, but you cannot excuse the action of the police for killing everyone inside.

"Israel's acts are NOT unrestrained"

I would agree that the actions were not unrestrained, because almost by definition that would mean almost anyone in Gaza would have been killed, however the question is can this action be justified? Is this action that they are committing worth the gain that comes from it?

At killing 894 people, 50,800 left homeless and 400,000 without water, I say no it's not worth the gain, cannot be justified as self defence because it's not proportionate.

I'd also state that Hamas tactics, like it or not, aren't designed to TRY and kill Palestinian civilians. It's designed to try and stop Israel attacking. I fully admit this and understand why they are attacking this way. Israel is one of the largest military forces in the world and Hamas simply cannot take it on toe to toe, which leads to the tactics we see. This is the same with terrorism and any guerrilla warfare action out there. Unfair as it is, it works for a reason, and that is that the civilian casualties that result are unacceptably high. Does this mean a nation should ignore the civilian casualties it will cause out of frustration? Of course not.

Knowing this, does not change the fact that that it IS unjustifiable. It does not change the amount of innocent civilians killed, and the amount of people left homeless.

My opponent also claims that Israel is doing this for peace. If it brought about this noble aim it may go a long way (but not quite) the price paid by those civilians. Has it though? How successful has this action been? Was it worth the price?

Well, unfortunately not, Hamas are still launching rockets, Israel is still being attacked. How many more incursions and civilian lives must be lost before this military option brings peace?

"It takes an incredible amount of naivete to expect that Hamas can be reasoned with."

My opponent also says that this is because Hamas is unwilling to negotiate at all, however this attack came off the back of a relatively successful ceasefire where the amount of rockets fired dropped by 98% compared to the 4.5 months before it. Clearly this shows that Hamas will negotiate as long as everyone is getting a fair trade at the table. Military options aren't the answer, and aren't the only options as my opponent tries to suggest.

The Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip was not, and can not be justified.
Debate Round No. 2
Watchman81

Pro

My opponent seems to think that I have accepted his premise that Israel's counterattacks must be proportional in order to be justified. I have accepted no such arguments. I merely responded to the arguments he gave as they were completely irrelevant to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. My argument was that even if proportionality is a factor in determining whether or not the attack was justified, my opponent's arguments are still fatally flawed since the examples he used were much to extreme. The truth is that Israel must react with decisive military force when it is attacked. Whether or not it is proportional has no bearing on whether or not the attack is justified. If we were to follow my opponent's logic, then the Allied powers in World War II would have been in the wrong due to the fact that they used overwhelming force against the Axis powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan. Wars are never fought proportionally. The side that launches decisive attacks is the side that is victorious.

"Firstly my opponent has not argued against the fact it's the attacking force's responsibility to ensure that only a reasonable number of civilian casualties occur, clearly not what has happened in this invasion. If Israel wishes to defend itself by attacking Hamas the onus is on it to ensure that it doesn't do so while blowing up multiple innocent civilians for it to be justified."

This all sounds nice, but is nearly impossible to practice if Israel wants a decisive victory against Hamas. Furthermore, who gets to decide what a "reasonable" amount of civilian casualties are acceptable? The majority of Palestinians killed were members of Hamas. In comparison, the number of non combatants is pretty small. What is disturbing is that it is supposedly Israel's responsiblity to minimize civilian casualties, but no one says anything of Hamas' attempts to maximize civilian casualties. As I stated in my previous argument, Hamas has clearly used civilians as human shields. If Israel didn't show the self restraint they currently do, FAR more civilians would be dead. It is Hamas who should be held responsible for any civilian deaths as they are the ones who perpetuate this bloody conflict.

"Secondly my opponent simply maintains that because Hamas member is in the area of a civilian, it is his fault if the civilian dies. This is fairly ridiculous to say. Let me give you an example. A Hamas member is seen launching a rocket and run's into a nearby apartment complex known to hold approximately 500 civilians. Israel has three choices. They can either move into there with ground forces, tracking down the militant or capturing him. They can leave him to fight another day because they think the risk to their men is too high. Finally they could drop a 2000 pound bomb onto the building, guaranteeing that they do kill the militant, but also 500 civilians in the process. By your logic, the 500 civilian casualties is the fault of the single Hamas member running into the building, and no moral blame can be assigned to the Israeli commander simply because he is attacking a militant."

It is against the Geneva conventions to use civilians as human shields. Terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah are known to use civilian shields as weapons against Israel. My opponent seems to excuse the acts of these terrorists in favor of blaming Israel for defending themselves. Israel actually did move ground forces into the Gaza strip and a lot of Hamas members were killed by the IDF soldiers, but civilians were still caught in the crossfire. Sending in ground troops does not guarantee the civilians will not be killed. The first option of leaving the militant to fight another day is obviously a very undesirable option, but it is one that Israel has taken many times. Israel cannot afford to do this often, however, as this will only encourage Hamas members to use shields more often.

Here is a link of a Hamas leader admitting to the usage of civilians as human shields.

"Come on now, I think we can agree that with any targeting of a militant force the number of civilian casualties must be taken into account, and you cannot simply lay all following moral consequences of the following action at the feet of the enemy for simply being in a location at the time."

When the enemy intentionally hides among civilians in order to get them killed, then the blood of those civilians is on his head. This is common sense.

"This goes back to my example of a murderer taking hostages inside a building and the police blowing up the building in response. You can assign partial blame to the murder for taking the hostages, but you cannot excuse the action of the police for killing everyone inside."

Again, this is a ridiculous analogy. This is a war. Hamas is dedicated to the utter destruction of Israel, not some random murderer.

"I'd also state that Hamas tactics, like it or not, aren't designed to TRY and kill Palestinian civilians. It's designed to try and stop Israel attacking. I fully admit this and understand why they are attacking this way. Israel is one of the largest military forces in the world and Hamas simply cannot take it on toe to toe, which leads to the tactics we see. This is the same with terrorism and any guerrilla warfare action out there. Unfair as it is, it works for a reason, and that is that the civilian casualties that result are unacceptably high. Does this mean a nation should ignore the civilian casualties it will cause out of frustration? Of course not."

If my opponent looks at the link I posted, he will see that it IS designed to kill Palestinian civilians. As I stated before, using human shields creates a win/win situation for Hamas. If Israel restrains itself, the the Hamas member lives to fight again. If Israel attacks, the civilians will die thereby awarding a PR victory to Hamas. In answer to my opponent's question, no Israel should not ignore civilian casualties. The thing is, Israel DOESN'T ignore civilian casualties. It does everything it can to minimize the amount of civilian casualties.

"My opponent also says that this is because Hamas is unwilling to negotiate at all, however this attack came off the back of a relatively successful ceasefire where the amount of rockets fired dropped by 98% compared to the 4.5 months before it. Clearly this shows that Hamas will negotiate as long as everyone is getting a fair trade at the table. Military options aren't the answer, and aren't the only options as my opponent tries to suggest."

Right. And who was it that broke the cease fire? Hamas. Who is it that always breaks the cease fire? Hamas. My opponent's argument shows a lack of understanding of what Hamas' as well as other Islamic terrorist organizations' actions are driven by. They are driven by a religious belief that requires them to kill Jews and Christians and conquer the rest of the world for Islam. The reason Hamas cannot be reasoned with is because they do not desire peace. They desire to see Israel destroyed.

Here are some excerpts from Hamas' charter.

"There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors."

"Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it."

If the Palestinians desired peace, Israel would be more than willing to negotiate peace. However, when Islamic extremism is still prevalent, peace is not possible because these people do not want to negotiate. They want destruction. Because of this and other reasons, Israel's invasion of the Gaza strip was more than justifiable; it was necessary.
Peleus

Con

Peleus forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
Watchman81

Pro

Watchman81 forfeited this round.
Peleus

Con

Peleus forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Peleus 8 years ago
Peleus
True, but it was challenged to me, so I thought I'd accept it.
Posted by Demosthenes 8 years ago
Demosthenes
Peleus you need a hobby my friend.

This debate is never going to end.
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