The Dahiya doctrine is a military strategy put forth by the Israeli general Gadi Eizenkot that pertains to asymmetric warfare in an urban setting, in which the army deliberately targets civilian infrastructure, as a means of inducing suffering for the civilian population, thereby establishing deterrence. The doctrine is named after a southern suburb in Beirut with large apartment buildings which were flattened by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) during the 2006 Lebanon War. Israel has been accused of implementing the strategy during the Gaza War.
2006 Lebanon War
The first public announcement of the doctrine was made by General Gadi Eizenkot, commander of the IDF's northern front, in October 2008. He said that what happened in the Dahiya (also transliterated as Dahiyeh and Dahieh) quarter of Beirut in 2006 would, "happen in every village from which shots were fired in the direction of Israel. We will wield disproportionate power against [them] and cause immense damage and destruction. From our perspective, these are military bases. [...] This isn't a suggestion. It's a plan that has already been authorized. [...] Harming the population is the only means of restraining Nasrallah."
Noting that Dahiya was the Shiite quarter in Beirut that was razed by the Israeli Air Force during the Second Lebanon War, Israeli journalist Yaron London wrote in 2008 that the doctrine, "will become entrenched in our security discourse."
Whether by design or default, Israel at least partially implemented such a strategy during the Gaza War. The 2009 United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict makes several references to the Dahiya doctrine, calling it a concept which requires the application of "widespread destruction as a means of deterrence" and which involves "the application of disproportionate force and the causing of great damage and destruction to civilian property and infrastructure, and suffering to civilian populations." The Fact Finding Mission which submitted the Report concluded that the doctrine had been put into practice during the conflict. However, on an 1 April 2011 op-ed, one of the lead authors of the UN Fact Finding Mission, judge Richard Goldstone stated that some of his conclusions may have been different had the Israeli government cooperated with his team during the investigation. The Op-Ed has been interpreted by some as a retraction of the report and its conclusions.
The doctrine is defined in a 2009 report by the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel as follows: "The military approach expressed in the Dahiye Doctrine deals with asymmetrical combat against an enemy that is not a regular army and is embedded within civilian population; its objective is to avoid a protracted guerilla war. According to this approach Israel has to employ tremendous force disproportionate to the magnitude of the enemy’s actions." The report further argues that the doctrine was fully implemented during Operation Cast Lead.
Richard Falk wrote that under the doctrine, "the civilian infrastructure of adversaries such as Hamas or Hezbollah are treated as permissible military targets, which is not only an overt violation of the most elementary norms of the law of war and of universal morality, but an avowal of a doctrine of violence that needs to be called by its proper name: state terrorism."
- State terrorism
- Fourth-generation warfare
- International law and the Arab–Israeli conflict
- United Nations General Assembly, Report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, 25 09 2010
- "The Dahiya Strategy: Israel finally realizes that Arabs should be accountable for their leaders’ acts" The Dahiya strategy, according to IDF Northern Command Chief Gadi Eisenkot. Interview in Yedioth Ahronoth. 10.06.08.
- David Hirst (2010). Beware of small states: Lebanon, battleground of the Middle East. Nation Books. p. 396. ISBN 978-1-56858-422-5.
- "Israel warns Hizbullah war would invite destruction". Yedioth Ahronoth. Reuters. 3 October 2008. Retrieved 18 April 2011. "IDF Northern Command chief says in any future war Israel would use 'disproportionate' force on Lebanese villages from which Hizbullah will fire rockets at its cities. 'From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages, they are military bases,' Maj.-Gen. Eisenkot tells Yedioth Ahronoth"
- Cain, Anthony C., ed. (September 2010). "Deterrence and the Israeli-Hezbollla War". Deterrence in the Twenty-first Century. London. p. 288.
- Richard Goldstone (April 2, 2011). "Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and war crimes". The Washington Post. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
- "No Second Thoughts" The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel
- Richard Falk (7 January 2011). "Israel’s Violence Against Separation Wall Protests: Along the Road of State Terrorism". Citizen Pilgrimage blog.
- Satellite Identification of Damage in Beirut, Lebanon — satellite photographs of Dahiya district before and after the war
- Disproportionate Force: Israel’s Concept of Response in Light of the Second Lebanon War - INSS Insight No. 74, October 2, 2008 - Siboni, Gabi
- The Third Lebanon War: Target Lebanon - INSS Strategic Assessment, November 2008, Volume 11, No. 2 - Eiland, Giora