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Warfare against cities occupied by their urban populations has been an ugly and shameful chapter of human history for a very long time. Since the End of World War Two and the advent of the United Nations there haven't been many protracted urban sieges with a few exceptions like Seoul Korea (were the UN itself was an active combatant), Sarajevo and Grozny.

Now the world is shocked to be witnessing yet another brutal assault on an urban area
with many non-combatant casualties and massive swaths of destruction. As the photos of the draconian destruction are beginning to filter out of the electric powerless Gaza, people are asking what purpose did all this wanton destruction serve?    

The Dahiya Doctrine: State Terrorism and a Philosophy of War Crime

By Stephen Benavides, Truthout | Op-Ed

In the 2006 Lebanon War, Israel Defense Force Northern Commander Gadi Eisenkot, now the deputy chief of general staff, recommended and had approved the application of a military strategy that would target and destroy an entire civilian area rather than fight to overtake fortified positions one by one. This was in an effort to minimize IDF casualties while at the same time holding the entire civilian populace accountable for the actions of a few. A move some called revolutionary in modern warfare, the doctrine did away with the effort to distinguish between militant and civilian, using an overwhelming display of force through airstrikes to destroy the entire Lebanese Dahiya quarter.

The strategy itself calls for the deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure in order to induce suffering and severe distress throughout the targeted population. By targeting indiscriminately, the IDF hopes to deter further military attacks against Israel, destroy its enemies, as well as influence the population to oust the militants seen as the primary target. The IDF has planned on using the strategy since 2008, and is seen as doing so in the current conflict in Gaza based on the increasing number of civilian casualties.

A Policy of War Crime

State terrorism, "establishment terrorism" or "terrorism from above" is generally understood to mean the systematic and intentional use of violence against either military or civilian targets meant to create a climate of fear in a population in order to bring about a specific political objective. The idea itself can be traced back as far as recorded warfare, but no consensus currently exists because states view themselves as legitimate actors, and therefore incapable of being terrorists. Bruce Hoffman argues that there is a "fundamental qualitative difference between the two types of violence" (state and non-state actors), and that the norms and rules of war followed by states preclude various tactics from being implemented, and as such prohibits the notion of state-sponsored terrorism. While there is a qualitative difference between Israeli and Palestinian violence, namely the overwhelming suffering the Dahiya Doctrine is meant to create, there is also a severe quantitative difference in that IDF war making machines are far superior to what is being used by Hamas. More importantly, when state actors cease adherence to international norms of war, and openly state that the target is no longer the militants, but the civilian populace, their actions have clearly become war crimes.

Additional Protocol 1,, Article 51 (3) of the Geneva Conventions is designed to provide civilians immunity from attack "unless and for such time as they take a direct part in hostilities." Articles 76 (women) and 77 (children), 15 (civilian medical personnel and religious) and 79 (journalist) provide special protections for each category respectively. Israel is not a signatory to Protocol 1, but surprisingly enough Palestine is after the Palestinian Authority signed the accord on February 4, 2014, even while the United States and Israel opposed the action. In 2009, Palestine gained recognition as a nonmember observer state, and according to Luis Moreno Ocampo, a former International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor, may qualify as a state and gain full status as an ICC member. This would enable Palestine to bring war crimes charges against Israel, under a provision that allows for the charges of crimes committed before gaining state recognition as long as the alleged crimes occurred after the formation of the ICC in 2002.

In fact, the United States and Israel both oppose Palestine's full membership in the UN specifically because it would allow the Palestinians to potentially join the International Criminal Court, and bring war crime charges. In April 2014, Samantha Power, US Ambassador to the UN, was clear when she said that the United States is in "firm opposition to any and all unilateral [Palestinian] actions in the international arena" because they "really pose a profound threat to Israel" and would be "devastating to the peace process." Some see the recognition of Palestine as a nonmember state as acting as a terrorist co-conspirator with the Palestinian Authority and called successfully for the defunding of 22 percent of the budget paid by the United States. Public Law 101-246, enacted in 1990, states, "No funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act or any other Act shall be available for the United Nations or any specialized agency thereof which accords the Palestine Liberation Organization the same standing as member states."

Samantha Power claiming that Palestine's becoming a nonmember observer state at the International Criminal Court would be "devastating to the peace process." is especially laughable since it was Netanyahu who scuttled any serious peace negotiations when the two Palestinian factions settled their differences and formed a united front for negotiations.  
The Dahiya Doctrine: Fighting dirty or a knock-out punch?


At least once a month here, a disagreement erupts between the top generals over the significance of the Dahiya Doctrine and whether it should be used again in a future conflict. Most believe it should.

The IDF subjected Gaza to the Dahiya Doctrine during Operation Cast Lead in 2009 with brutal indifference to the civilian population, and than again in 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense gave Gaza another punishing application of the Dahiya Doctrine. Now apparently the IDF is adhering to its cherished doctrine in Gaza once again, judging by the massive swaths of rubble throughout the beleaguered open air prison. A prison who's inmates who are one of the most impoverished populations on earth, and half of them are children.  

“Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother” ~  Moshe Dayan

Its appalling that this country gives Netanyahu free reign to apply this criminal doctrine to such powerless people. I know Obama has clashed with Netanyahu over this kind of military excess. Too bad the congress won't follow the President's lead and give Obama a stronger hand for dealing with Netanyahu (who Obama was caught on an open mike calling a liar).

We can also send a message as consumers with BDS

Originally posted to Lefty Coaster on Fri Aug 08, 2014 at 11:25 PM PDT.

Also republished by Adalah — A Just Middle East.

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