Adding tragedy to horror
There can be no justification for the sweeping destruction of civilian life in Gaza, even if the stated goal of defeating Hamas for good is justified. But worse yet, that war goal is incoherent. The Hamas movement cannot be decisively taken off the board by this attack.
The reason laws of war exist is because committing atrocities can be expedient for military victory. The ear-numbing, brain-deafening insistence that Hamas must be defeated at any cost amounts only to war crime apologia. The atrocities remain atrocities.
The strategic incoherence adds tragedy to horror. Yes, the indiscriminate mass murder committed by Hamas on October 7 is unjustifiable and its repetition must be prevented. But the criminal assault on Gaza just ensures there will be plenty of recruits for the next attack of its sort.
The refusal to contextualize or try to understand the brutality of October 7 dovetails with framing the slaughter of Gazans as necessary and preventive: This attack is producing the context nobody will want to hear about next time. So many of us have warned, and continue to warn, that Israel's military domination and inhuman treatment of Palestinians will inevitably lead to brutal and inhuman attacks on Israelis. We warn, not to justify future terror, but precisely to show it is preventable.
Those refusing to see this dynamic, refusing to choose another path, not only dehumanize Palestinians by denying the humanity of their motivations and condoning their mass slaughter, but also condemn Israelis, including civilians, to fear and grief without end.
The grief and fear of the past weeks, the unhinged discourse, the state repression, make it hard to think and even harder to speak. But what was clear before October 7 remains clear today: Israel is on a path that can never offer its neighbors peace, nor its citizens safety.