Israel’s War Against Palestine: Documenting the Military Occupation of Palestinian and Arab Lands

Dahiya doctrine

31 October 2009

From Wikipedia:

Dahiya doctrine is a proposed and approved defense strategy of Israel under which “Israel finally realizes that Arabs should be accountable for their leaders’ acts”[1] It is named after a Hizbullah stronghold in Beirut that Israel flattened from the air in the 34-day Second Lebanon War.

IDF Northern Command Chief Gadi Eisenkot expressed the doctrine’s premise as follows: “What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on. […] We will apply disproportionate force on it and cause great damage and destruction there. From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages, they are military bases. […] This is not a recommendation. This is a plan. And it has been approved.[2] There would be no mercy shown “when it comes to hitting the national infrastructure of a state that, in practice, is controlled by Hizbullah… In practical terms, the Palestinians in Gaza are all Khaled Mashaal, the Lebanese are all Nasrallah, and the Iranians are all Ahmadinejad.”[3]

Gaza was also mentioned in this connection, “too bad” this strategy “did not take hold immediately after the “disengagement” from Gaza and the first rocket barrages directed at the northern Negev … [i]mplementing the Dahiya strategy in Gaza would have made it clear to Hamas that we do not intend to hit them proportionally … Arab civilians grumble about being punished because of their leaders, while fearing their leaders more than they fear us. We need to make the fear we sow among them greater”.

Some sources, although characterized as “pro-Israel” warned against this policy, especially in the run-up to the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict, claiming it would be disastrous, because the 2006 destruction of Dahiya had only made Hizbollah stronger.[4] In January 2009 after the ceasefire, the pro-Palestinian Electronic Intifada announced that “Israel’s Dahiya Doctrine comes to Gaza”.[5] where, after the “bank of Hamas targets” ran out in the first few days of fighting the bombardment continued against mosques, universities, government buildings, the courts, 25 schools, and several hospitals along with bridges, roads, 10 electricity generating stations, sewage lines, and 1,500 factories, workshops and shops.


Elements of this policy have been seen before, perhaps most famously from General Moshe Dayan, “Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother” quoted by Martin Van Creveld, a professor at Israel’s Hebrew University in Sept 2003 who continued in his own words: “We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you that that will happen, before Israel goes under.”[6] The BBC quotes Israeli commentators as saying that Israel has “a new military doctrine: ‘go nuts’ once and your enemies will fear to strike again”.[7] with Ofer Shelah saying “In the face of enemies who have opted for a strategy of attrition and attacking from a distance, Israel will present itself as a ‘crazy country’, the kind that will respond (albeit after a great deal of time) in a massive and unfettered assault, with no proportion to the amount of casualties it has endured.”


  1. “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.
  2. Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (September 15, 2009). “HUMAN RIGHTS IN PALESTINE AND OTHER OCCUPIED ARAB TERRITORIES“. The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-09-15.
  3. “From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages, they are military bases” Israel warns Hizbullah war would invite destruction, Maj.-Gen. Eisenkot tells Yedioth Ahronoth. 10.03.08
  4. The Dahiya Strategy and Gaza: Unlessons of the Second Lebanon War “will not stop the rocket attacks and it will help the enemy achieve its goals” 17.11. 2008
  5. Israel’s Dahiya Doctrine comes to Gaza Electronic Intifada, 20 January 2009
  6. Quoted in The Observer Guardian, The War Game, a controversial view of the current crisis in the Middle East, 21 September 2003; the original interview appeared in the Dutch weekly magazine: Elsevier, 2002, no. 17, p. 52-53 (April 27th, 2002).
  7. ‘go nuts’ once and your enemies will fear to strike again BBC 13 March 2009.
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