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Israel's Gaza Doctrine: The Worsening of Life for People in Gaza Is A Deliberate Goal of the Israeli Military — And That's A War Crime

Photo by Takver.
Photo by Takver.

Collective Punishment:
That's what the Nazis specialized in.

"Israel is waging war on civilians in Gaza. Ordinary Palestinians, television stations, schools, hospitals, power plants and water facilities are all targets in the eyes of the Israeli army, one of the most powerful militaries in the world."

By Alex Kane
On Monday night, in what is being described as the most intense Israeli bombardment since the assault began three weeks ago, the air force bombed Gaza’s sole power plant, and killed over 100 people.

It is a violation of international law to destroy civilian infrastructure and lives if there is no concrete military advantage in doing so. “Israel is repeatedly and flagrantly violating the law of armed conflict,” a group of international legal scholars said in a statement released this week. “Most of the recent heavy bombings in Gaza lack an acceptable military justification and, instead, appear to be designed to terrorize the civilian population.”

But Israel, shielded from accountability by the U.S., continues to violate the laws of war. In fact, it is following a specific military doctrine developed by Israeli military officials that calls for punishing the civilian population in the territory where resistance to Israeli actions emanates from. Its purpose is to restore Israeli deterrence; to make Israel’s armed enemies think twice before resisting, a goal Israel attempts to meet by wantonly destroying civilian infrastructure. Another goal is to turn the civilian population against the authorities that rule them. In this war, it’s Hamas Israel wants to weaken.

The Dahiyeh doctrine, as it is known, was first used in 2006. In the summer of that year, Israel went to war in Lebanon to battle the militant group Hezbollah, which was created in the late 1980s for the express purpose of resisting Israel’s occupation of Lebanon. Sparked by an attack on Israeli soldiers and the subsequent capturing of two soldiers to press for the release of Hezbollah prisoners in Israel, the 2006 assault on Lebanon inflicted enormous damage on the country. Over 1,000 Lebanese, the majority of them civilians, were killed.

The neighborhood of Dahiyeh was particularly hit hard. Dahiyeh is a Lebanese neighborhood in the south of the country, populated by low-income Shi’a Muslims. While not all of them are Hezbollah supporters, Shia Muslims are the constituency the Islamist party serves, and so Israel sought to punish them all, with no regard to who was a civilian and who was a combatant.

The doctrine was summed up by Israeli north command chief Gadi Eisenkot. “We will wield disproportionate power against every village from which shots are fired on Israel, and cause immense damage and destruction,” he said in 2008, two years after the doctrine was put into place. “This isn’t a suggestion. This is a plan that has already been authorized.”

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