Israel Has A Right to Defend Itself — This Is Not Defense

JB Shreve
4 min readMay 19, 2021


The violence in the newest round of conflict between Israel and Hamas is escalating out of control. This morning official counts say more than 219 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli airstrikes. Several Hamas leaders are included among the dead, but civilians make up a far greater portion of the deaths in Gaza. At least one hundred Palestinian women and children have so far been killed by Israeli strikes. One Israeli airstrike on Saturday wiped out a family of ten, including two adults and eight children. A surviving infant was pulled from the rubble. More than 1,500 Palestinians have been wounded in the violence to date.

Smoke rises after Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City, the Gaza Strip, Palestine, Wednesday, May 12, 2021.

On the Israeli side of the violence, Israel has reported twelve deaths in the conflict, including two children. Hamas has fired 3,750 rockets toward Israel. Among that total, 550 did not make it out of Gaza territory. Ninety percent of the remaining count was brought down by the Iron Dome Defense System in Israel. While no deaths are acceptable, Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli military have accepted the recent fight because it is a fight that Israel can win.

Palestinian factions launch a large batch of rockets from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, on May 11, 2021. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib

In the face of mounting death totals and airstrikes over the last ten days, the Biden administration repeated the cold, detached, and incoherent American political mantra that encapsulates American policy in the Middle East — “Israel has a right to defend itself.” President Biden has repeated the line ad nauseam since the start of the recent round of violence as if there was nothing else to say or consider on the matter. In the new President’s defense, it is the same statement echoed by every American President of either party since Ronald Reagan. The acknowledged right of Israel to defend itself extends to boundaries unparalleled to any other US ally in the modern age. Israel’s brazen provocations and overreach and the cold imbalance of power and casualties in the conflict are empowered by decades of relentless US silence.

On Monday, as President Biden reiterated the calloused policy statement toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the US also vetoed an official United Nations call for a truce between Hamas and Israel. The language of the UN statement included a condemnation of Israeli violence against the Palestinians. It was the third time the US vetoed the UN Security Council statement in the past week. That move also was nothing new. The US has vetoed no less than 45 United Nations statements deemed too harsh toward Israel over the decades. The greatest of America’s allies is apparently also deemed the most sensitive in American policymakers’ eyes, incapable of handling rhetoric that condemns its blatant overreach.

Meanwhile, also on Monday, the Biden administration confirmed a report that the President approved the sale of $735 million in precision-guided weaponry to Israel. The US is not merely standing idly by while Israel bombards the Palestinians. The US is literally offering a financial incentive to Israel’s role in the violence. The rationale and timing of that reported aid approval are based upon one priority — Israel has a right to defend itself.

Many words are routinely used to encapsulate and define the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Apartheid. Terrorism. Imperialism. Another word that should be added to the iconic terms that describe the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the word — disproportionate. The tired statement that Israel has a right to defend itself ruthlessly disregards the disproportionate levels of military and financial aid, political power, and freedom of movement that Israel possesses against the Palestinians. Clearly, the people and nation of Israel have a right to self-defense. This is not self-defense. A death total of more than 18 to 1 and a civilian death total of 25 to 1 are not indicative of self-defense. These are statistics of ruthless oppression brutality empowered by US policy, disregard, and weaponry.

Israeli air strikes on residential buildings and towers in Gaza City, on May 12, 2021. At least 35 people were killed in Gaza and five in Israel as tensions have escalated in the region.

Recognizing Israel’s right to self-defense and the nation’s obligation to uphold a standard of humanitarian consideration when its military launches airstrikes on one of the most densely populated pieces of land on the earth are not mutually exclusive expectations. Similarly, we can recognize Hamas as a brutal regime that often utilizes terrorism without also disregarding the plight of the Palestinian people who have no hope for escape from this perpetual conflict. Nothing legitimizes Hamas, like Israeli missiles landing on Palestinian homes and families.

The US should stop standing on the hollow and hypocritical standard of Israel’s right to self-defense regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That standard is outdated by facts, reason, and simple humanitarian morality. The hear no evil, see no evil foreign policy standard of successive US administrations when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is helping this tragedy escalate to new heights.



JB Shreve

Current events. History. International relations. Global crisis/chaos.