Ethics in Gaza

A country subject to rocket attacks from across its border has a right to defend itself, even if its own actions provoked the attacks, and the attacks themselves are relatively ineffective. But a right of self-defense does not mean a right to do anything that can be construed as a defensive act, regardless of the cost to civilians.

MELBOURNE – Is Israel’s military action in Gaza morally defensible?

Different answers to that question are possible. Some depend on answers to prior questions about the founding of the state of Israel, the circumstances that led to many Palestinians becoming refugees, and responsibility for the failure of earlier efforts to reach a peaceful solution. But let us put aside these questions – which have been explored in great depth – and focus on the moral issues raised by the latest outbreak of hostilities.

The immediate trigger for the current conflict was the murder of three Jewish teenagers in Hebron, on the West Bank. Israel, blaming Hamas, arrested hundreds of its members in the West Bank, though it has never explained the basis of its accusation.

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