Norman Finkelstein mentions something I hadn't heard of before, namely the 'Dahiya doctrine', first mentioned by Israel's Northern Command General Gadi Eisenkot in this interview with Ha'aretz back in October. The doctrine is quite straightforward, as reported by AP (one of two English language news sources to discuss it, and the only major one):
"What happened in the Dahiya quarter in Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired upon. We will apply disproportionate force upon it and cause great damage and destruction there," he said. "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”.
Discussing the plans, the International Law Observer commented:
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.”
It is, as the Heathlander points out, a doctrine based on the annihilation of a major population centre which even Human Rights Watch felt compelled to condemn because of the attacks on infrastructure and civilian apartment blocks where the IDF believed support for Hezbollah was strong. Israeli military doctrine as currently applied in Gaza involves the deliberate perpetration of crimes against humanity. This is why medical centres, ambulances, apartment buildings, a university, mosques, a school and a children's hospital, a television station, and parliament buildings are being blitzed.
Before Israel began its latest operation, it engaged in what can only be described as a terrorist cold-calling campaign, in which Palestinian families were warned that their houses may be bombed if the Israeli military suspected it was hiding weapons or Hamas members. The attempt to preemptively terrorise non-combatants worked in some cases, sending families fleeing. This is perhaps not as crude as the air-dropped leaflets and radio messages used by Israeli forces in southern Lebanon, during which civilians were simply ordered to leave on pain of fiery death, but if Israel intends a ground assault, this is surely to be the next step. Then they will say, as the US did in Fallujah, 'we ordered them to leave, so only bad guys can remain', as if the war crime of ethnic cleansing justified the war crime of mass bombing.