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Israel Using 'Dahiya Doctrine' of Disproportionate Destruction Since 2006?

IDF Northern Front Commander Gadi Eisenkot. CC/Photo credit: Mark Neyman / GPO.

A Nov. 10 commentary by Ishaan Tharoor in the Washington Post reports that Israel has, since the 2006 war with Hezbollah, enunciated a doctrine of explicitly “disproportionate” mass destruction for war against Palestinians or Hezbollah; it is referred to as the “Dahiya Doctrine” for the Beirut neighborhood in which Hezbollah had its headquarters destroyed by the Israeli Defense Forces. Former IDF Northern Command chief Gadi Eisenkot is the key figure Tharoor is citing; Eisenkot is now a minister without portfolio in Netanyahu’s “war cabinet,” cites Tharoor.

Eisenkot said in an October 2008 interview with Yedioth Ahronoth: “We will wield disproportionate power against every village from which shots are fired on Israel, and cause immense damage and destruction. From our perspective, these are military bases. This isn’t a suggestion. This is a plan that has already been authorized. Harming the population is the only means of restraining [Hezbollah leader] Nasrallah.”

And Israeli Col. Gabi Siboni (res.) is also cited, in an Oct. 2, 2008 report for the Tel Aviv University Institute for National Security Studies: “With an outbreak of hostilities, the IDF will need to act immediately, decisively, and with force that is disproportionate to the enemy’s actions and the threat it poses. Such a response aims at inflicting damage and meting out punishment to an extent that will demand long and expensive reconstruction processes.”

Siboni has adopted a different public tune this October and told Le Monde that “I don’t think this doctrine applies today,” and that Israel is targeting only explicitly military targets. He is now with Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security.

One can say the doctrine is “like the Nazis” with collective punishment; but there is the long shadow of British doctrine of firebombing cities, and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, now repeatedly cited by Israeli and U.S. war hawks alike as their model.