Is Israel’s operation to find kidnapped teens a war crime? | The Times of Israel   ‘A dozen Israeli human rights organizations say IDF actions constitute collective punishment, but legal experts disagree’

12 days into this massive dragnet for the three kidnapped teenagers and now accusations of war crimes and the use of disproportionate force have been levelled against those carrying out the rescue operation. In the circumstances, might the term collective punishment really be a valid one? Or is it an unavoidable consequence of attempts being made to retrieve these boys from what is a most parlous situation?

As usual, it all rather depends on which side of the fence you happen to be. The searchers and those backing their efforts see things one way while others, the searched, may well adopt a far different attitude.

Quite where the rest of the world stands on the matter is open to much interpretation and guesswork.  And therein lies the root of the problem.

There is, as yet, no consensus about how to handle incidents such as this one and the vast number of others that have taken place down the years. There is only action and reaction; a piecemeal process whereby nothing of consequence ever materialises and no provision is made for finally ending a conflict left for far too long without remedy or resolution.

But why has there never been a consensus, why no universally agreed procedure to deal with something that has been with us now for what seems like forever?

The reason for this is not that hard to fathom.Too many disparate viewpoints abound on the subject, a multitude of agendas, prejudices and political considerations contend with each other for dominance.

Unless one all-encompassing and united directive can be invoked in instances where anything of a questionable or overtly aggressive nature is experienced, the final chapter of this long and sorry saga is only ever likely to be written in innocent blood and the tears of infinite sorrow.

How then are we to close the book on conditions as volatile and unstable as those which have existed in the region for decades? – ‘ for those of us with better things to do.’