You Can’t Retaliate First!

When I was little, my sister went to my father and told him that I’d hit her. He punished me. I didn’t think it was fair and I told him that she had hit me. He went back to her and asked her if that was true. My sister’s response was, “Yes, but she hit me back!”

I remembered that ridiculous, child’s response tonight as I heard that Hamas was threatening to retaliate for today’s misguided tank shell. What we know is that Hamas has been firing dozens of rockets and mortars at Israel for the last few days. Rumor has it, this is a command of Iran to help divert attention back to Gaza and away from them, the recent ship filled with armaments we intercepted, and perhaps an element of taking away the attention Libya is getting.

Today, Israel fired back into Gaza towards a rocket launcher. It seems the tank shell missed the target (or perhaps hit the target without realizing there were also civilians nearby). There is no argument that this was fired in response to Hamas’ targeting Israeli citizens today and in recent days.

But in a classic move to spread their propaganda, Hamas is now threatening to retaliate. And somewhere in this insanity must be the simple response – you can’t retaliate first!

If you fire rockets and missiles – this is called terrorism and this is called attacking. If Israel responds and targets the rocket launchers as we have been doing – THIS is called a response. It isn’t called retaliation because within the concept of retaliation there seems to be an element of revenge, of getting back.

We aren’t trying to get back at Gaza or Hamas. We are trying to stop the endless, daily rocket fire.

No, Hamas, just no. You cannot call this retaliation – but you can call it by its most obvious terminology – aggression, violent, acts of war, targeting civilians, and most of all – terrorism.

3 Comments on You Can’t Retaliate First!

  1. It’s about time Israel retaliated first – this is the ultimate in Jewish ethics. הבא להרגך, השכם להרגו

    When someone comes to kill you, arise and kill him first.

  2. “you can’t retaliate first”

    Oh, I thought that was a classic. It’s calles “preemptive strike”. I suppose that since mankind had their first doubts about the moral value of war, every war started with a “retaliation”.

    (See “Asterix in Corsica” for more information:”But your great-great-grandfather sold my great-great-grandfather a limping donkex”)

  3. הבא להרגך, השכם להרגו”

    Well, I do not think that this was really THE new idea the torah brought into the world. I think this concept was fairly widespread even before.

    The new concept the torah introduced is the ban of vengence and the necessity for a fair trial with quite restrictive conditions in all cases that are not self-defense or pikuach nefesh.

    And I suppose this means that the din rodef is strictly limited to the acute, immediate danger AND when there is no other way of avoiding it.

    I have ever wondered about this concept since Rabin was killed in the name of “din rodef”. If this concept is that expandable, there is something wrong.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.