Israel kidnappings, collective punishment: Israel is too quick to punish innocent Palestinians for monstrous crimes committed by other Palestinians.:
by William Saletan // Slate
Israel is seething. On Monday, searchers found the bodies of three Jewish teenagers who were kidnapped and murdered on June 12. On Tuesday, protesters in Jerusalem chanted “Death to Arabs” and tried to attack Arabs on the street. Thirty-five thousand people endorsed a Facebook page calling for revenge. Then, on Wednesday, another boy was abducted and killed. This time, the victim was Palestinian.
We don’t yet know who killed this boy. But one thing is clear: The mentality at the heart of terrorism—the willingness to punish many people for the sins of a few—has infected Israel.
Jewish teaching, like Muslim and Christian teaching, forbids deliberate or reckless harm to innocent people. But Israel has long faced terrorist threats on all sides. From bitter experience, it has developed a doctrine of tit for tat, hitting back hard to discourage its enemies from striking again. Together, the terrorism and the reciprocity have led to a policy of limited collective punishment.
One example is Israel’s presumption of geographic responsibility. Under rules announced two years ago by its military chief of staff, attacks in various parts of Israel will result in retaliatory strikes on the nearest enemy, regardless of who staged the attack. If Israel is hit in the south, it will strike Hamas in Gaza. If Israel is hit in the north, it will strike Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Another example is Israel’s tradition of demolishing the homes of suspected Palestinian criminals. It doesn’t matter whether the suspect has been convicted, who owns the home, or who else—parents, siblings, children—lives there. The point, according to the spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is to “disincentivize attacks.” According to Israel’s highest court, the perpetrator “should know that his criminal acts will not only hurt him, but are apt to cause great suffering to his family.”
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