Israel possesses a powerful military and a strong economy, but it is still ultimately a dependent power. It cannot ignore international (and especially U.S.) pressure. In addition, calling hundreds of thousands of reservists out of the work force weakens the economy. In every major conflict since its war for independence, Israel has had to race to accomplish its military objectives before international pressure forced a cease-fire. The sheer scale of Hamas’s atrocities may increase the patience of the international community for an Israeli offensive, but that patience has never been unlimited.
In reality, inflicting disproportionate casualties can be one of the goals of a fighting force. Ukraine appears to have inflicted substantially greater casualties on Russia than the Russian Army has inflicted on Ukraine. That doesn’t mean Ukraine’s response was disproportionate under the law of armed conflict. In every fight, the goal is to inflict as many losses as possible on your opponent while taking as few losses as possible.
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