In Canada, and perhaps elsewhere, those who defend Israel have begun to argue that Israel ought to increase military operations due to the “proportionality” of Hamas rockets that have entered Israel. Their argument is simple: Hamas fires thousands of rockets into Israel, so Israel has the right to respond with thousands of rockets. Since Israel has not fired thousands of rockets, they have the right to increase military operations – namely, by increasing rocket fire until they match the number Hamas has fired.
However, I see the opposite argument for “proportionality,” and it seems to me that if you want to talk about “proportionality” in any meaningful sense you ought to focus on the number of civilians killed, not rockets fired. Israel has killed roughly 1,500 Palestinian civilians out of a population of roughly 1,500,000, for a total of 0.1% of the population. With that “proportion” established we can take a look at the other side. Hamas has killed only 3 Israeli civilians, out of a population of roughly 7,900,000, for a total of just 0.000038% of the population. If the death and destruction were to truly be “proportional” – with both sides killing 0.1% of the population – then Hamas has the right to enter Israel and kill another 7,897 Israeli civilians. That would be a “proportionate” response to Israel’s invasion.