BEFORE THE ‘DAHIYEH DOCTRINE’

A 1978 interview with General Mordechai Gur, then-chief of staff of the Israel Defence Forces:

Q- Is it true [during the March 1978 Israeli invasion of Lebanon] that you bombarded agglomerations [of people] without distinction?

A- I am not one of these people who have a selective memory. Do you think that I pretend not to know what we have done all these years? What did we do the entire length of the Suez Canal? A million and a half refugees! Really: where do you live? . . . We bombarded Ismailia, Suez, Port Said, and Port Fuad. A million and a half refugees . . . Since when has the population of South Lebanon become so sacred? They knew perfectly well what the terrorists were doing. After the massacre at Avivim, I had four villages in South Lebanon bombed without authorization.

Q- Without making distinctions between civilians and noncivilians?

A- What distinction? What had the inhabitants of Irbid [a large town in northern Jordan, principally Palestinian in population] done to deserve bombing by us?

Q- But military communiqués always spoke of returning fire and of counterstrikes against terrorist objectives.

A- Please be serious. Did you not know that the entire valley of the Jordan had been emptied of its inhabitants as a result of the war of attrition?

Q- Then you claim that the population ought to be punished?

A- Of course, and I have never had any doubt about that. When I authorized Yanouch [diminutive name of the commander of the northern front, responsible for the Lebanese operation] to use aviation, artillery and tanks [in the invasion], I knew exactly what I was doing. It has now been thirty years, from the time of our Independence War until now, that we have been fighting against the civilian [Arab] population which inhabited the villages and towns, and every time that we do it, the same question gets asked: should we or should we not strike at civilians? [Al-Hamishmar, May 10, 1978]

– Edward Said, The Question of Palestine (New York: 1992 [1979]), pp. xxxvii-xxxviii.

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