ALTHOUGH I didn’t know it then, it would go on to be called the “Dahiya Doctrine”. The year was 2006 and the place was Lebanon’s capital Beirut, or to be more precise, the southern suburban district of the city known as Dahiya, also transliterated as Dahieh.

Back then this neighbourhood was the epicentre of Israel’s military operation during its 34-day conflict with the Lebanese Shia Islamist political party and militant group, Hezbollah.

On a single raid alone, Israeli warplanes are said to have dropped 23 tons of high explosive on Dahiya, which they claimed was a stronghold of Hezbollah, in an effort to kill its leaders, but failed to do so.

I well recall visiting the neighbourhood in the wake of the Israeli attack only to come across canyons of rubble where once had stood apartment buildings. But it was to be two years later before the first public announcement of the doctrine was actually made following another outbreak of hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah.

It was put into words by General Gadi Eizenkot, the then commander of the Israel Defence Force’s (IDF) northern front in an article published by the Israeli daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth in 2008.

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“What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which shots will be fired in the direction of Israel. We will wield disproportionate power 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 authorised,” Eizenkot warned.

If all this sounds familiar, then the reason is obvious given what the world has witnessed these past nine months during Israel’s onslaught in Gaza.

To put it bluntly, the Dahiya Doctrine is a type of warfare that employs “disproportionate force” and involves the deliberate destruction of civilian infrastructure to neutralise or put pressure on an enemy. It is, in effect, a punishment inflicted with the aim of making a civilian population stop supporting an armed group as was the case in Beirut with Hezbollah.

In other words, the Dahiya Doctrine is a tactic, pure and simple, one that the IDF embraces.

Israeli military commanders might issue denials and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might claim that airstrikes like that in Rafah over the past few days that struck “safe areas” are a “tragic mishap” but frankly, only the most gullible would buy into such an explanation.

The National:

If Israel’s war in Gaza has revealed one thing it’s that the Dahiya Doctrine is still very much part of the IDF playbook and it matters little to them what an outraged world has to say about it.

But Israel’s conduct in Gaza has revealed other things too. The first is the nonsense of its claim to have the most “moral” army in the world and the other is that its military and intelligence apparatus is not the much-vaunted force Israel with its superiority complex has long claimed, and some others bought into.

In fact, it was back in 2006 during that short conflict with Hezbollah that Israel’s so called renowned military prowess was shown to be nothing of the sort, a fact detailed in an American military research paper entitled, We Were Caught Unprepared: The 2006 Hezbollah-Israeli War, published by the US Combined Arms Combat Studies Institute.

This study reveals many things, among them how there was a rift within the IDF, with some commanders believing that air power was all that was needed to do the job in crushing Hezbollah, a view contested by others within the IDF’s ground forces.

In the end the study showed that Israel failed to accomplish its goal of defeating Hezbollah in battle and humiliating it, much the same as it is failing to do today in Gaza.

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To date in Gaza, Israel’s army has at best, only half achieved the war objectives set out by Netanyahu and his far-right coalition government in destroying Hamas’s military capabilities, removing it from power in Gaza and rescuing the hostages.

From ignoring the rules of engagement when it comes to civilians to inaccurate claims about dismantling Hamas’s brigades and battalions, at every turn the IDF has come up short.

Reports suggest that many serving officers decry the emphasis the IDF has placed both internally and publicly on how many Hamas fighters have been killed, instead of adopting a more accurate and strategic approach.

As The Economist magazine reported, one senior general involved in directing operations, early on in the war, is reputed to have announced: “I don’t want to be Westmoreland!” a reference to the commander of American troops in Vietnam who boasted of his men’s body-counts.

In short, the war is going badly for Israel and the more it does so then the more the frustration among politicians and commanders grows and they in turn underscore that by employing ever more disproportionate tactics that confirms Israel’s status as an international pariah.

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If ever more evidence of that was needed away from the actual Gaza battlefield itself, then it came in the latest revelation that the former head of Mossad, Israel’s overseas intelligence agency, personally threatened Fatou Bensouda, the former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and her family.

He did so in an effort to get her to abandon her inquiry into possible war crimes committed by Israel against the Palestinians in the occupied territories.

And so here again we have another component of Israel’s much “revered” military and intelligence establishment shown up as tactically inept. Where once commentators talked about the Mossad with bated breath, now instead they are reeling at the clumsiness of its former head, Yossi Cohen’s efforts to silence the ICC.

Did Cohen – again with the superiority complex that so characterises Israeli and military leaders – really believe that such threats would not at some point come to light?

It’s a measure of how badly things are going for Israel in Gaza right now that a recent poll by the Midgam Institute based near Tel Aviv found that 62% of Israelis polled now believed “total victory” over Hamas in Gaza was impossible.

Israel’s politicians and military chiefs it would appear, continue to ignore the bitter lessons of those days in Lebanon back in 2006 when they first deployed the Dahiya Doctrine. The longer they do so, the more the carnage piles up and the more of a rogue nation their country becomes.