Israel’s Doctrine of Destruction

Bombs to ‘Send Gaza Back Decades’

Nazareth — In the last days before Israel imposed a unilateral ceasefire in Gaza to avoid embarrassing the incoming Obama administration, it upped its assault, driving troops deeper into Gaza City, intensifying its artillery bombardment and creating thousands more displaced people.

Israel’s military strategy in Gaza, even in what its officials were calling the “final act,” followed a blueprint laid down during the Lebanon war more than two years ago.

Then, Israel destroyed much of Lebanon’s infrastructure in a month of intensive air strikes. Even in the war’s last few hours, as a ceasefire was being finalized, Israel fired more than a million cluster bombs over south Lebanon, apparently in the hope that the area could be made as uninhabitable as possible.

Similarly, Israel’s destruction of Gaza continued with unrelenting vigor to the very last moment, even though according to reports in the Israeli media the air force exhausted what it called its “bank of Hamas targets” in the first few days of fighting.

The military sidestepped the problem by widening its definition of Hamas-affiliated buildings. Or as one senior official explained: “There are many aspects of Hamas, and we are trying to hit the whole spectrum because everything is connected and everything supports terrorism against Israel.”

That included mosques, universities, most government buildings, the courts, 25 schools, 20 ambulances and several hospitals, as well as bridges, roads, 10 electricity generating stations, sewage lines, and 1,500 factories, workshops and shops.

Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah estimate the damage so far at $1.9 billion, pointing out that at least 21,000 residential apartment buildings need repairing or rebuilding, forcing 100,000 Palestinians into refugeedom once again. In addition, 80 per cent of all agricultural infrastructure and crops were destroyed. The PA has described its estimate as “conservative”.

None of this will be regretted by Israel. In fact the general devastation, far from being unfortunate collateral damage, has been the offensive’s unstated goal. Israel has sought the political, as well as military, emasculation of Hamas through the widespread destruction of Gaza’s infrastructure and economy.

This is known as the “Dahiya Doctrine,” named after a suburb of Beirut that was almost leveled during Israel’s attack on Lebanon in summer 2006. The doctrine was encapsulated in a phrase used by Dan Halutz, Israel’s chief of staff, at the time. He said Lebanon’s bombardment would “turn back the clock 20 years.”

The commanding officer in Israel’s south, Yoav Galant, echoed those sentiments on the Gaza offensive’s first day: the aim, he said, was to “send Gaza decades into the past.”

Beyond these soundbites, Gadi Eisenkot, the head of Israel’s northern command, clarified in October the practical aspects of the strategy: “What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on. We will apply disproportionate force on it and cause great damage and destruction there. From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages, they are military bases. This is not a recommendation. This is a plan.”

In the interview, Gen Eisenkot was discussing the next round of hostilities with Hizbollah. However, the doctrine was intended for use in Gaza, too.

Gabriel Siboni, a colonel in the reserves, set out the new “security concept” in an article published by Tel Aviv University’s Institute of National Security Studies two months before the assault on Gaza. Conventional military strategies for waging war against states and armies, he wrote, could not defeat sub-national resistance movements, such as Hizbollah and Hamas, which have deep roots in the local population.

The goal instead was to use “disproportionate force,” thereby “inflicting damage and meting out punishment to an extent that will demand long and expensive reconstruction processes.”

Col Siboni identified the chief target of Israel’s rampages as “decision makers and the power elite,” including “economic interests and the centres of civilian power that support the [enemy] organization.”

The best Israel could hope for against Hamas and Hizbollah, Col Siboni conceded, was a ceasefire on improved terms for Israel and delaying the next confrontation by leaving “the enemy floundering in expensive, long-term processes of reconstruction.”

In the case of Gaza’s lengthy reconstruction, however, Israel says it hopes not to repeat the mistakes of Lebanon. Then, Hizbollah, aided by Iranian funds, further bolstered its reputation among the local population by quickly moving to finance the rebuilding of Lebanese homes destroyed by Israel.

According to the Israeli media, the foreign ministry has already assembled a task force for “the day after” to ensure neither Hamas nor Iran take the credit for Gaza’s reconstruction.

Israel wants all aid to be channeled either through the Palestinian Authority or international bodies. Sealing off Gaza, by preventing smuggling through tunnels under the border with Egypt, is an integral part of this strategy.

Much to Israel’s satisfaction, the rebuilding of Gaza is likely to be even slower than might have been expected.

Diplomats point out that, even if western aid flows to the Palestinian Authority, it will make little effect if Israel maintains the blockade, curbing imports of steel, cement and money.

And international donors are already reported to be tired of funding building projects in Gaza only to see them destroyed by Israel a short time later.

With more than a hint of exasperation, Norway’s foreign minister, Jonas Gahr Stoere, summed up the general view of donors last week: “Shall we give once more for the construction of something which is being destroyed, re-constructed and destroyed?”

Jonathan Cook, based in Nazareth, Israel is a winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). Read other articles by Jonathan, or visit Jonathan's website.

14 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on January 21st, 2009 at 11:16am #

    nato honors safety/security of any of its members; unfortunately, gaza is chosen as an enemy and not as nonenemy let alone as a friend.
    at least euros are consistently anti palestinians.
    still, US gets an A+ and euros a B in their efforts to destroy yet another people. thnx

  2. Alex said on January 21st, 2009 at 11:18am #

    Israel’s objectives are very clear and consistant with many other similar holocausts in human history. Israel wants the land for Jews only with only a manageable portion of gentiles.

  3. bozh said on January 21st, 2009 at 11:56am #

    even if israelis keep golan, sheba farms, and all schemitischen frei palestine, they wld be losers.
    the land is still too small; too tiny; very impoverished. and many lands may boycott israeli products.
    thus, it’ll forever be a dependancy. can israel kill off all muslims? it appears that that is israel’s goal!?
    so, the conflict appears eterne. and people will want to live; live in a world without wmd and their threat to existence of biota?

    so, it does seem, that israelis know all this. what then do they have in mind?
    conquer/destroy iran, syria, jordan, iraq, lebanon, arab peninsula; form an empire; bomb any land that might be manufacturing wmd?

    will US allow this? thnx

  4. HR said on January 21st, 2009 at 1:24pm #

    Odd that DV would not allow comments on Edward Jayne’s article, that directly follows this one. Or, perhaps not odd at all.

    The religious book quotes just below the title of that article are telling. Their implication is that as long as it’s Jews committing the genocide, it’s OK. Those murders are committed under orders from some nonexistent god. We should rejoice. We should understand. But, when the tables are turned, as they were under the Nazis, we should be horrified, feel guilt forever, build monuments, accept that the Nazi genocide against Jews justified resettlement of European Jews to Palestinian territory.

    More and more of us are becoming fed up with this double standard, with the conventional wisdom that Jews alone have the right to use the word holocaust, that they alone have the right to the term semite. The world is a bigger place than that.

  5. John Hatch said on January 21st, 2009 at 1:51pm #

    But the world is not big enough to absorb the evil that Israel represents. It will be stopped.

  6. DavidG. said on January 21st, 2009 at 3:10pm #

    I for one am sick of hearing about Jews, Israelis, Children of God, Greater Israel, etc.

    Couldn’t we build a very large rocket and send them all off to another planet where they can believe what fantasies they like, bob their heads until they fall off, etc.

    But who would they play ‘victim’ to then?

  7. RH2 said on January 21st, 2009 at 3:16pm #


    If a politician in Germany compares certain crimes to the holocaust or an agitation against someone to a pogrom, he/she will be ordered to resign or forced to cowardly apologize for his/her “impudence”. The Zionist monopoly of the term of holocaust has been a successful PR supported by the “free” western media.

    Thank you, and don ‘t lose your patience.

  8. Andrew F said on January 21st, 2009 at 5:41pm #

    David G – it’s outrageous that you suggest that Jews should be sent into space – logically there is little distinction between that and total annihilation. I think those comments damage the credibility of this forum, and do a disservice to all us critics of zionist horror – it leads me to think that your intervention is calculated to achieve just this. Keep it factual please.

    Am I alone in thinking that he may one of the hordes of mercenaries unleashed by the zionist propaganda machine?

  9. The Angry Peasant said on January 21st, 2009 at 9:44pm #

    There are two people who live on this planet who keep me from hating Jews…Bob Dylan and Mel Brooks. You get a few winners in every group.

  10. Tree said on January 22nd, 2009 at 6:43am #

    I agree with Andrew F. The lack of intellect in hateful comments such as those posted here do nothing for Dissident Voice, or anyone else.

  11. giorgio said on January 22nd, 2009 at 7:54am #

    “But who would they play ‘victim’ to then?”

    Exactly, DavidG, who would they play victim to?
    UNIQUE VICTIMHOOD is their lifeblood!

    Norman Finkekstein, chapter 2 of his book ‘The Holocaust Industry’,
    states “The “uniqueness” doctrine, although intellectually stifling and morally discreditable, persists on account of its political utility.
    Unique suffering confers unique entitlement.”

    And this unique entitlement means, inter alia, the right to exterminate Palestinians whenever deemed necessary and useful…

  12. bozh said on January 22nd, 2009 at 9:28am #

    ‘jews’ shld have at least a continent of their own; preferably walled all around by some kind of sea barricade.
    but are stuck in tiny israel; as a punishment from yahweh. so, why hate these people when their own god is so mean to them.

  13. kalidas said on January 24th, 2009 at 11:16pm #

    Not everyone succumbs/subscribes/follows orders as pertains to the new “holocaustinity”religion.
    I for one certainly do not.

  14. kalidas said on January 25th, 2009 at 12:22pm #

    Hard to believe this is against the law in Germany, or anywhere for that matter. But it is.
    You can deny God, mother, country, Columbus, the moon landings, anything in the world EXCEPT the holocaust.
    This is not conspiracy, this is fact..

    Ask Ernst Zundel: Truth, you see, is no defense.

    “Not being allowed to even see the evidence against you is against every precept of law in every civilized nation of the world. All that made no difference to Jewish supremacists, this thought criminal had to be punished. He couldn’t be shown to have broken any Canadian law, so it was decided that he would be deported to Germany where under the draconian laws there he could be jailed for years for simply challenging any of the often-changing politically-correct versions of the Holocaust.

    German courts have already ruled that in regard to the Holocaust “truth is no defense” and that even if you show that what you said is absolutely true, if it challenges the official Jewish version, you have committed a serious crime. You have “defamed the Jewish people.” Even if you can prove what you say is accurate, you are guilty of “reviling” the Jewish people and therefore face imprisonment. “