ISRAEL’S actions during last year’s Operation Protective Edge were lawful and justified, according to Major-General Jim Molan, who addressed the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies plenum on Tuesday night.
Molan, former commander of Australia’s troops in Iraq, spent a week in Israel in May meeting with politicians, military experts, IDF strategists and soldiers.
“Our aim was to examine Operation Protective Edge and to do an ethical examination to balance the inevitable other reports that were coming through,” Molan told the audience.
Their report concluded that Operation Protective Edge was not a war that Israel sought, but a legitimate conflict necessary in order to defend Israel’s borders and civilians.
Molan argued that Israel went to great lengths to act morally and adhere to the laws of war.
“The laws of armed conflict require that the war you get into be just, and require that you conduct the war once you’re in it in a manner which is just. That does not mean that you inevitably cannot win,” he said.
He explained there are four functions to this end: proportionality, humanity, distinction and necessity – all of which were used to assess Operation Protective Edge.
“Proportionality really has nothing to do with the fact that 2200 Palestinians were killed in Gaza, and only 76 Israelis … But proportionality is to do with the fact that action that is taken is proportional to the military gain,” he explained.
“The great argument that’s been put against Israel by the UN and by everyone else is that look how powerful Israel is – they only lost 76 people. We have lost 2200 Palestinians. Therefore, Israel is in the wrong. And there is something appallingly stupid about that. Nothing in war is fair, but it must be just.”
Molan went on to assert that the “real threat” to Israel now is a nuclear Iran, while an additional threat will be more sophisticated weapons in southern Lebanon.
But he said the threat which worries Israel more than anything else is the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.