Analysis: The Dahiya Doctrine vs. the Goldstone Report

The IDF does not plan on significantly changing the way it fights in future conflicts. On the contrary, it will continue to target civilian infrastructure that is used by terrorists.

January 25, 2010 13:13
2 minute read.
palestinian gaza kid in shadow of wall 88

gaza kid 88. (photo credit: )


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Following Operation Cast Lead, the IDF Operations Directorate prepared a slideshow to explain the type of challenges the Israeli military is currently facing in Lebanon against Hizbullah and in the Gaza Strip against Hamas.

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On one of the slides is a picture of Khan Yunis, Gaza, but it could also be any one of the 160 Shiite villages in southern Lebanon where Hizbullah has stored its weaponry. The map is filled with different colored dots, each one representing a different type of threat an IDF platoon will face.

The Operations Directorate calls this type of warfare the "Collage War" since when fighting against an organization like Hizbullah or Hamas, IDF commanders will face characteristics from guerrilla, terror and conventional battles.

In other words, a commander invading Lebanon or Gaza will face anti-tank missiles (conventional), kidnapping attempts (terror) and underground tunnels (guerrilla), each threat represented by a different colored dot on the slide. These threats are also not located in open battlefields but in built-up areas like Khan Yunis, one of the most-densely populated parts of the world with close to 200,000 people.

The purpose of the slide is to explain that Israel is not fighting against a conventional military like the IDF, but has enemies - Hamas and Hizbullah - that flagrantly use the civilian population as human shields.

Still, the IDF does not plan on significantly changing the way it fights in future conflicts. On the contrary, it will continue to target civilian infrastructure that is used by terrorists.

This is known in the IDF as the "Dahiya Doctrine," in reference to the neighborhood in Beirut that can only be accessed by card-carrying Hizbullah members. During the 2006 war, the IDF bombed large apartment buildings in the neighborhood since they were also used as Hizbullah command-and-control centers.

Speaking at a conference in Tel Aviv on Sunday, OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot made clear that the IDF will continue to apply this doctrine in the future.

"Hizbullah is the one that is turning these areas into a battleground," Eizenkot said. "I hope this will restrain them - but if not, we need to explain to ourselves and to others that this is something Hizbullah has brought upon itself since it is building its combat zones inside these villages."

As a result, the IDF believes that the Goldstone Report was born out of a wrong perception of modern warfare and was written while ignoring the reality in Gaza and Lebanon. As a result, what the Operations Directorate believes is necessary, is not a commission of inquiry like the Winograd Commission after the Second Lebanon War, but a change in the world's understanding of the nature of modern warfare.

Until this happens, the IDF can expect to face many more Goldstone Reports in the future.

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