Did Israel commit war crimes in the 2006 war vs Hezbollah? Sure. Might threatening to commit war crimes in any future confrontation be smart deterence theory? Absolutely. This seems to be exactly what they are doing:
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel will use “disproportionate force” if Hezbollah guerrillas attack Israel, a senior military commander said in published comments Friday, adding that any village used to fire missiles against the Jewish state will be destroyed.
Maj. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, who commands forces along Israel’s northern border, issued a similar threat against Syria.
Eizenkot said Israel would show no mercy on Lebanese villages that harbor Hezbollah fighters. Israel has repeatedly complained that Hezbollah fighters used residential areas for cover, limiting Israel’s ability to respond.
Eizenkot stressed that this is “not a recommendation,” but a plan approved by the highest levels. “If fire is carried out from Shiite villages in Lebanon, this is the operational plan: Very aggressive fire.”
He said Israel would use what he called the “Dahiya doctrine,” a reference to the southern suburbs of Beirut where Hezbollah’s headquarters are located. During the 2006 war, Israel destroyed dozens of buildings in Dahiya, including the offices of Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah.
“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.”
Let me be clear: I am not condoning war crimes. But this is a smart strategy for Israel. Here is the strategic reality: Hezbollah has no ability to engage in s offensive operations against Israel. Or, put it this way, they don’t have the ability to “liberate” a single inch of land. The best they can hope for is to conduct provocative small scale attacks to bait Israel into entering South Lebanon where it can sit back and fight defensive guerrilla war which neutralizes to some extent Israel’s tactical advantage. So for Israel the status quo is just fine. And if by making these threats they scare Hezbollah or make it clear that the material price of any future attack against Israel is going to be so high, then this is very smart nicely executed deterence theory in practice.
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