Rob Goldston

The Next Phase

Soon after the October 7 attack, Hamas politburo member Ghazi Hamad said that the Palestinian nation was “proud to sacrifice martyrs.” I don’t see pride in the eyes of the Gazans who have lost family members in this war. I see loss.

Speaking as an American Jew, I see a war to prevent Israeli citizens from suffering the ghastly attacks that Hamas says it plans to repeat over and over as fully justified. 1,200 murdered Israelis is equivalent, on a proportional basis, to 41,000 Americans or 14 9/11 attacks. What nation would take the risk of a repetition of such an attack?

The next question is, how is this war being conducted? Hamas’s murder of non-combatants and its use of Gazan civilians and Israeli hostages as human shields most certainly violate international law.

On our side, far-right members of the Israeli government have said that protection of Gazan civilians should not be a priority and that humanitarian aid for Gazans should be restricted, even that Gazans should be “encouraged” to emigrate. These would constitute violations of international law. It is hard to judge, from two oceans away, if they represent, or infect, how the IDF is conducting the war. I hope not.

The number of deaths of Hamas fighters reported by Israel is about ⅓ of the total death toll reported by Gazan authorities. This is similar to the estimated, but deeply regrettable, ratio when ISIS was defeated in Raqqa and Mosul. Whatever this gruesome calculus tells us, there is no question that the international community finds the death toll in Gaza unacceptable. I don’t know what G-d thinks any more than anyone else, but I am certain that G-d is crying because G-d’s children are killing one another.

I conclude from these troubled considerations that in the next phase Israel, with support from the United States and others, must provide safe shelter and abundant humanitarian aid for Gazan civilians. This is a minimum in the eyes of the international community, and perhaps more importantly, in the eyes of G-d.

About the Author
Rob Goldston is a professor of Astrophysical Sciences at Princeton University. He teaches and writes about nuclear energy, with special focus on nuclear proliferation risks. He was director of the US Department of Energy Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory from 1997 to 2009. He won a 2014 "Leading Global Thinkers" award from Foreign Policy Magazine for his work on arms control.
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