by Hichem Karoui
The situation in Gaza raises profound ethical questions regarding the impact of conflict on civilian populations. What is the fault of the 2.3 million people who have lived in Gaza under Israeli blockade for years? Israel and the West evoke the Hamas 7 October operation to justify the ongoing killing of those people and pretend that Israel has the right to self-defence in Gaza! Did these 2.3 million people, men, women, elderly and children, participate in the 7 October Hamas operation against the Israelis? Why is the West supporting Israeli mass revenge? If only one reason makes those people deserve such a punishment, say it. Dare to tell the world what it is.
Here is a reminder that may help you answer the question.
1. Collective Responsibility: The 2.3 million people living in Gaza are a diverse group comprising men, women, children, and the elderly, with varying beliefs, professions, and ways of life. Collective punishment or responsibility, where an entire population is held accountable for the actions of a few, is generally considered unethical and violates international law. The majority of Gaza’s residents are not participants in military operations or political decisions.
2. Causation and Blame: The concept of blaming an entire population for the actions of a specific group or individuals within that population is deeply problematic. In the context of Gaza, attributing the actions of specific groups or individuals to the entire population of 2.3 million is not justified.
3. International Law and Human Rights: International law, including the laws of armed conflict and human rights law, emphasises the protection of civilians during conflicts. This includes the principle of distinction, which requires parties in a conflict to distinguish between combatants and non-combatants and to direct operations only against military objectives.
4. Ethics and Conflict: Ethically, punishing or harming civilians as a response to the actions of a few is not justifiable. Civilians in conflict zones often find themselves in situations beyond their control, and they should not be held accountable for the actions of militant groups or governing authorities.
5. Western Support for Israel: Western support for Israel is complex and is influenced by a variety of factors, including historical relationships, political alliances, and strategic interests. The extent and nature of this support vary among Western countries and over time. However, this support does not ethically justify harm to civilians.
6. The Role of Hamas and Israeli Self-Defence: Israel’s actions in Gaza are often justified by the Israeli government as necessary for self-defence, particularly in response to actions by Hamas. While states have the right to self-defence, this right is balanced by the obligations under international law to protect civilians and avoid disproportionate or indiscriminate use of force.
In conclusion, there is no ethical justification for attributing collective fault to the entire population of Gaza for the actions of specific groups or individuals. The complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict do not override the fundamental principles of international law and human rights, which demand the protection and fair treatment of civilians in conflict zones.
Would you please review your positions?
A Question of Honour For Honourable People to Consider
There is also a question of honour that should be considered. During the Nazi occupation of France, various operations organised by the French resistance network killed hundreds, if not thousands, of Nazis. Hitler’s army replied violently, killing numerous persons suspected of being resistance fighters or sympathisers. Hitler, on the other hand, has never ventured to bombard Paris in reprisal. What would be the prise? An army, regardless of state, is intended to be honourable. Mass murder is not honourable, especially when an army retaliates against a hostile operation. So, what is the outcome? Should the West allow Israel to continue killing Palestinians in Gaza until the last Palestinian is killed? Is this Western support honourable?
Let’s consider the context. The issue touches on important ethical considerations in the context of military conflict and the role of international support.
Comparative Context – Nazi Occupation of France vs. Gaza: Comparing different historical contexts can be challenging due to the unique circumstances of each conflict. In the Arab world, the Israeli army is considered an occupation army as long as there is no Palestinian independent state. The principle remains that civilian populations should not be targets of military action. The ethical standards applied to conflicts, including the Nazi occupation of France and the situation in Gaza, emphasise the protection of civilians and the avoidance of collective punishment.
Concept of Military Honour and Civilian Casualties: Military honour traditionally involves adherence to certain ethical standards and rules of engagement, including the protection of non-combatants. The deliberate targeting or indiscriminate harming of civilians, hospitals included, is widely considered dishonourable and contrary to international law. This principle applies universally, regardless of the military or state involved.
End Goals of Military Actions: The intended outcomes of military actions can vary, including self-defence, territorial control, or political objectives. However, these goals do not justify the violation of ethical standards and international laws designed to protect civilians. Military actions should be proportionate and discriminate to avoid civilian casualties.
Western Support for Israel and Ethical Implications: Western support for Israel is multifaceted and influenced by political, historical, and strategic factors. This support, however, should be scrutinised in the context of ethical considerations and adherence to international law. Providing support does not absolve countries from the responsibility to advocate for protecting civilian lives and resolving conflicts through peaceful means.
Future of Western Support and Gaza: The question of whether the West should continue to support Israel if civilian casualties in Gaza persist is a significant ethical and policy debate. This support should ideally be contingent on adherence to international human rights standards and efforts towards a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
Long-Term Resolution: The ultimate solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including the situation in Gaza, requires a comprehensive approach that addresses the legitimate rights and security concerns of all parties, particularly the victims, and, most importantly, the protection and well-being of civilians.
In summary, military honour and ethical conduct in warfare demand the protection of civilians. The ongoing support of Western countries to any state, including Israel, should be critically examined in light of these ethical considerations and international laws. The goal should be to advocate for the cessation of hostilities and the pursuit of a peaceful resolution that respects the rights and dignity of all involved, mainly civilians.