Targeting Civilians in Gaza - by Stephen Lendman
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) is an "independent legal body dedicated to the protection of human rights, the promotion of the rule of law, and the upholding of democratic principles in the Occupied Territories." It issues frequent press releases, statistics, fact sheets, documents, and reports like its October 22, 2009 English version of "Targeted Civilians: A PCHR Report on the Israeli Offensive against the Gaza Strip (27 December 2008 - 18 January 2009)."
Its 184 pages comprise a comprehensive, conclusive, and damning account of Israel's war crimes, along with numerous others, including:
-- PCHR's "Through Women's Eyes" on the war's effect on women;
-- B'Tselem's "investigation of fatalities in Operation Cast Lead;"
-- Amnesty International's "Operation 'Cast Lead': 22 days of death and destruction;"
-- several Human Rights Watch reports, including "White Flag Deaths" and Rain of Fire: Israel's Use of White Phosphorous in Gaza;"
-- former UN Special Human Rights Rapporteur for Occupied Palestine, John Dugard's "Independent Fact-Finding Committee (IFFC)....investigations of Israeli conduct during the war in Gaza;" and
-- the UN Human Rights Council (HRC)'s "Human Rights in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories: Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict" - the prominent Goldstone report that has Tel Aviv and Washington officials scrambling to diffuse its extensive Israeli war crimes evidence. The report's conclusion was that:
"....the Israeli military operation was directed at the people of Gaza as a whole, in furtherance of an overall and continuing policy aimed at punishing (humiliating and terrorizing) the Gaza population, and in a deliberate policy of disproportionate force aimed at the civilian population."
In a September 17 New Times op-ed, Goldstone said "Israel willfully killed hundreds of civilians as a result of 'disproportionate attacks (and repeatedly) failed to adequately distinguish between combatants and civilians, as the laws of war strictly require....Pursuing justice in this case is essential because no state or armed group should be above the law....the perpetrators of (these) violations must be held to account."
Israel's "Dahiya Doctrine"
For over six decades, targeting civilians and inflicting collective punishment have been standard Israeli practice. But after the 2006 Lebanon war, it was named "Dahiya" after the Beirut suburb the IDF destroyed in the conflict. Later, Northern Command General Gabi Eisenkot explained:
"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 at the heart of the enemy's weak spot (civilians) and cause great damage and destruction. From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages (towns or cities), they are military bases. This is not a recommendation. This is a plan. And it has been approved."
Israel's 2006 chief of staff, Dan Halutz, said Lebanon's bombing would "turn back the clock 20 years." In October 2008, Col. Gabriel Siboni added that:
The idea is to use enough "disproportionate force (to inflict) damage and met(e) out punishment to an extent that will demand long and expensive reconstruction processes....With the outbreak of hostilities, the IDF will need to act immediately, decisively, and with force that is disproptionate to the enemy's actions and threat it poses....The strike must be carried out as quickly as possible, and must prioritize damag(ing) assets....be aimed at decision makers and the power elite (and at) economic interests and the centers of civilian power."