The talking point has just about outlived its rhetorical usefulness, morally and practically. Israel is not “defending itself.” Using tanks, fighter jets, drones, and ships to kill children and destroy civilian homes, shops, hospitals, and places of refuge isn’t self defense. It’s collective punishment, ethnic cleansing. Because if your message is ‘these places are all part of the group we are fighting,’ that is an admission that your war is with an entire population, not a subset of people.
On the practical side, from a tactical and strategic standpoint, again, tanks, planes, and drones are good at destroying, at stopping normalcy, in a place, but they do not hold territory. They are not sorting tools between noncombatants and enemy forces. When Israelis finally step out of their war machines, they will face a different, more balanced combat situation, which is probably why they have been so hesitant to do so thus far. The kids are scared, the brass is scared, with good reason.
Because this is a genocidal campaign for land, and for political purposes, to keep an extremist, fascist faction in power within the Israeli government. Hence, tactical concerns are disregarded daily in favor of a kind of strategic fantasy: ‘we will hurt enough people and then we will win.’ War doesn’t work that way. Counterinsurgency doesn’t work that way. And the destruction of normalcy for people weighs against the aggressors, the occupiers, in that context.