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 civilians and 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 in Gaza during the 2008-09 and 2014 conflicts.
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."
According to analyst Gabi Siboni at the Israeli Institute for National Security Studies: "With an outbreak of hostilities [with Hezbollah], 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. Israel's test will be the intensity and quality of its response to incidents on the Lebanese border or terrorist attacks involving Hezbollah in the north or Hamas in the south. In such cases, Israel again will not be able to limit its response to actions whose severity is seemingly proportionate to an isolated incident. Rather, it will have to respond disproportionately in order to make it abundantly clear that the State of Israel will accept no attempt to disrupt the calm currently prevailing along its borders. Israel must be prepared for deterioration and escalation, as well as for a full-scale confrontation. Such preparedness is obligatory in order to prevent long term attrition."
Noting that Dahiya was the Shia quarter in Beirut that was razed by the Israeli Air Force during the 2006 Lebanon War, Israeli journalist Yaron London wrote in 2008 that the doctrine, "will become entrenched in our security discourse."
Some claim that Israel implemented such a strategy during the 2008-09 Gaza War, using D9 armoured bulldozers on Palestinian farmland, wrecking 17% of it and leaving 30% of it unusable. A leaked U.S. embassy cable from October 2008, two months prior to the Gaza War, reports that General Gadi Eisenkot in his first interview in four years, discusses Israel's northern, central, and southern regions, and "labeled any Israeli response to resumed conflict the "Dahiya doctrine" in reference to the leveled Dahiya quarter in Beirut during the 2006 Lebanon War. He said Israel will use disproportionate force upon any village that fires upon Israel." 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.
Renowned game theorist and Nobel laureate in Economics professor Robert Aumann suggested a similar strategy in a lecture, that would theoretically deter Hamas from launching missile strikes. The concept is simple in game theoretic terms, but causes a fairly heated debates when viewed from a moral perspective. Aumann proposed a system of automatic retaliation, that would launch a missile aimed randomly at the Gaza Strip, every time a missile was fired out of it. Because this hypothetical system would be automatic, it basically creates a diffusion of responsibility for Israeli forces, essentially making it so terrorists would be firing missiles at both Israel and themselves. Most of the criticism of this theory, comes from the simple fact that Israel would be divorcing itself from the responsibility and moral repercussions of the killing of innocent civilians.
- State terrorism
- Fourth-generation warfare
- International law and the Arab–Israeli conflict
- Amos Harel (5 Oct 2008). "ANALYSIS / IDF plans to use disproportionate force in next war". Haaretz. Retrieved 3 October 2014.
- "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.
- Black, Ian (29 July 2014). "Israel is finding it harder to deny targeting Gaza infrastructure". The Guardian.
- David Hirst (30 March 2010). Beware of Small States: Lebanon, Battleground of the Middle East. Nation Books. pp. 401–. ISBN 0-7867-4441-3.
- "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"
- Siboni, Gabi (2 October 2008). "Disproportionate Force: Israel's Concept of Response in Light of the Second Lebanon War". INSS.
- Jonathan D. Caverley (1 May 2014). Democratic Militarism: Voting, Wealth, and War. Cambridge University Press. pp. 296–. ISBN 978-1-139-91730-8.
- Cain, Anthony C., ed. (September 2010). "Deterrence and the Israeli-Hezbollah War-Summer 2006". Deterrence in the Twenty-first Century: Proceedings (London, UK 18-19 May 2009). London. p. 288. ISBN 1466368187. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
- Black, Ian. "Help end Gaza blockade, aid groups urge EU". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
- Moreno, Luis G. "IDF REGIONAL COMMANDERS SPEAK OUT IN PRESS INTERVIEWS". https://wikileaks.org/. Wikileaks. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
- United Nations General Assembly, Report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, 25 09 2010
- 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
- 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