This man’s remarks deserve a separate entry all to themselves.
Giora Eiland, a retired Major-General in the Israeli Defense Forces, and former head of Israel’s National Security Council, has written a piece published by YNet, here, in which he attempts to justify attacks on what he called “national infrastructure targets” – in Gaza, in this case.
Eiland — apparently trying to amend longstanding principles of international war — wrote that that national infrastructure targets should be considered more military than civilian targets. “Such targets, which include government buildings, fuel caches, communication centers, bridges and the power system, are legitimate in the event of a military conflict between two countries, and this was the exact situation between us and Hamas”.
Eiland’s new argument depends on seeing Gaza as a state. As he wrote today, “Israel is not fighting terror organizations but a state. Gaza became a de facto independent state in as early as 2007, and that’s a good thing. Israel is always better off facing a political entity which serves as a clear address, both for deterrence purposes and for an agreement, than a situation in which the government is formally in the hands of one body but the ability to use fire is in the hands of others”.
By this line of argument, the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority is not a “clear address”, as the IDF rules the West Bank.
Eiland continues: “Because Gaza is a state which initiated ongoing rocket fire on Israel, in a military conflict the right thing to do is to hit all the targets serving the rival regime and allowing it to continue controlling and conducting a war against us“.
Therefore, Eiland writes, “The operation can and should be expanded against the state of Gaza, yet not necessarily through a ground offensive but by causing much greater damage to the infrastructure there”.
“Had there been an ongoing shortage of water and fuel in Gaza, had the power system been seriously damage, had the landline communication system gone out of order, had the roads connecting the different parts of the Strip been
destroyed, and had the government buildings and police stations been destructed, we could have estimated with greater confidence that deterrence had been achieved. This is an important lesson ahead of the next war, and as important in regards to Lebanon. If we conduct the ‘Third Lebanon War’ exclusively against Hezbollah’s military targets, we may lose it”.
Eiland’s argument ignores the Israeli Supreme Court ruling in late January 2008 saying that because Israel has a “historical responsibility” for Gaza, the Israeli military must ensure that it does not cause a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. [The Supreme Court, however, did not define “humanitarian crisis”…]
There it is: the reason to attack “national infrastructure” is to ensure winning a war. The justification is created separately, by merely inventing a new category in which targets, it will be argued, are not civilian [but maybe “dual-use? A lot of mileage can be gotten by trotting out a “dual use” justification.]
Eiland writes: “Hamas is the establishment in the state of Gaza … [and] we missed an opportunity to extensively damage Hamas’ ruling abilities, guaranteeing even greater deterrence, which was the main goal of the operation”.