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No lessons learned: Israeli military plans to intensify the use of indiscriminate and disproportionate force in its next armed conflict

In a recent interview (reported in the Israeli paper Ha’aretz) conducted with the a new military commander at the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) it was discovered that in spite of the military’s grave failures in the war with Lebanon in the summer of 2006 and the extensive critique it received both nationally and internationally, the military plans to return to its old doctrines which are known to be based on the vulgar display of power and the indiscriminate targeting of civilians and non-military sites.

The Commander of the northern troops, Gadi Eisenkot, presented in an interview with a regional newspaper what he refers to as the “Dahia doctrine”. According to him, in the next conflict, Israel plans to extend the scope of the damage and destruction from what resulted from its military operations in the shiite quarter of Beirut two years ago. He states, “in every village from which there will be shooting in the direction of Israel, we will use disproportionate power for the purpose of causing immense damage and destruction there.” Eisenkot was speaking on military operations in the southern shitte villages in Lebanon and for a similar tactic to be implemented in case of war with Syria. He confirms, “this is not a recommendations, this is a plan and it has already been approved.” He upheld firmly that Israel needs to face such situations not only with retaliations during the conflict but with a deterrent tactic before the conflict begins, since “we have a capacity of ammunition which is a hundred times bigger than theirs.”

Regional scholars working in the field of military strategy and national security have confirmed that the IDF is putting together a new programme for facing up to possible upcoming wars, whether with Lebanon, Syria or the Gaza Stip. The solution, as it appears, has come in the form of a “disproportionate eruption” through a newly acquired emphasis on air bombardment, where Israel plans “to act fast and with disproportionate force…in order to punish in a scope that would oblige long and costly reconstruction processes.”

There is no need to discuss extensively the repercussions of such measures if and when implemented and even arguably the incitement that is deduced from the Commander’s submissions. Indiscriminate targeting and the use of disproportionate forces, whilst having proclaimed its intention not to confirm every target and aspire to causing the highest possible level of destruction. All these constituted a clear and unequivocal intention to violate systematically the laws of war to which it is bound by force of the Geneva Conventions and customary international law (the latter conclusively encloses Articles 52, 53 and 57 of the Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions that Israel had not ratified).

In light of the report released in the summer of 2007 by Human Rights Watch on the war on Lebanon in 2006, titled “Why they died?”, and some of the sharpest critique directed at the IDF’s activities during the war, many amounting to war crimes (Article 8 of the ICC’s (Rome) Statute), the mere fact that such statements continue to be made by high ranked military officials on a national level without any sign of lessons learned, is one of many grave concerns for the international community’s treatment of the systematic human rights and humanitarian law violations committed by Israel in various contexts, and principally as a Belligerent Occupant in the occupied Palestinian territories.

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