Winnipeg’s Free Press Rightly Condemns Hamas Terrorism But Demands A Meaningless “Proportional” Retaliation From Israel

In its editorial on October 11 entitled “Responding to terror,” The Winnipeg Free Press laudably condemned the recent Hamas terrorist attack in Israel, writing that the group “more than deserves” the terrorist label given to it by the Canadian government, calling it “reprehensible.”

The editorial continued by addressing those commentators who seek to justify or otherwise explain Hamas’ genocidal attack on Israeli civilians – murdering an estimated 1,200 people, at last count – as a response to Israel’s non-existent occupation of the Gaza Strip, saying that while “Some might choose to use history to try and legitimize Hamas’ actions: it in no way does.”

As Israel buries its dead, discovering unfathomable brutality committed by Hamas against innocent Israeli civilians in southern Israel on October 7, the Jewish State has begun Operation Swords of Iron. While the details and extent of Israel’s goals in the operation are so far unclear, the widespread international support for Israel may soon be challenged as the country’s retaliation against Hamas continues.

Unfortunately, as well as the Free Press framed the issues surrounding Hamas’ attack on Israel, it soon joined the call for Israel to ensure that “retaliation has to be proportional.”

While such a statement may be well meaning, ultimately it fails to recognize the full reality faced by Israel.

Although Hamas’ October 7 attack came 50 years after the Yom Kippur War, when Israel’s Arab neighbours invaded the Jewish state, war has changed dramatically since then. In 1973, Israel fought against a military which was distinct from its civilian population.

But Hamas intentionally embeds itself deeply within the civilian population in Gaza, knowing full well that its actions directly cause injury and death amongst Palestinians, the very people it purports to represent. Its record of using human shields is well documented. Furthermore, Hamas, as an Islamist terrorist organization committed to the total annihilation of Israel as a Jewish State, there can be no possible negotiation or area of common ground to be found.

In light of this incontrovertible reality, there are two facts that the Canadian news media must recognize.

First, while Israel does not target civilians in war, and in fact has been recognized for the extraordinary restraint and care it takes in avoiding Palestinian civilian casualties, there will be innocent Palestinians who die during Israel’s operation. Short of Israel taking no action whatsoever, that sad fact is inevitable. But it is also fully due to Hamas, both its decision to massacre Israelis, and its choice to purposefully hide behind Palestinian civilians.

Second, Israel is left with absolutely no choice but to fight Hamas to the point that the group is no longer in existence, or at the very least, presents any kind of threat to Israel. Anything less than a fatal blow will render Hamas alive, and thus able to grow its stockpile, rebuild, and murder Israeli civilians once again in the future.

What, thus, does a “proportional” response by Israel look like? A massacre of 1,200 innocent Palestinian men, women and children, and the kidnapping of 100 or more innocent Palestinian civilians? Surely that would be widely – and rightly – condemned, and is almost certainly not what The Free Press is trying to suggest.

Rather than demanding that Israel respond in a “proportional” way, the news media must recognize that without striking a fatal blow to Hamas, the group will continue to attempt to murder Israelis for as long as it exists.

Consequently, the most humane decision that Israel can make is to do its utmost to eliminate Hamas’ threat, rather than committing to an unproductive “proportional” response that serves no purpose but to only delay the inevitable, and perpetuate more death of innocent civilians.

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