Maj. Gen. (res) Giora Eiland is a former Israeli national security advisor and a pillar of the Israeli military-intelligence apparatus.
He published a column (translated here) in Ynet which advocated the annihilation not only of Hamas, but of all of Gaza. It’s so shocking that I’m quoting liberally from it to testify to how awful it is. He begins by suggesting the Israel and the US have two conflicting approaches to Gaza. The American approach seeks to distinguish between Hamas and the civilian population. Thus, it says attacking Hamas is legitimate. But attacking civilians is not. At least the US claims it opposes targeting civilians, though it does very little to ensure Israel refrains from doing so.
Israel, on the other hand, should have an entirely different mindset. He argues that there is no difference between Hamas and its civilian population. The war, he says, should be against Gaza, all of Gaza; with no distinction made between fighters and civilians, since they are one and the same:
The other, and more accurate, [Israeli] narrative is as follows: Israel is not fighting a terrorist organization but against the State of Gaza. The State of Gaza is indeed under Hamas leadership, and this organization managed to mobilize all the resources of its state, the support of the majority of its citizens, and the absolute loyalty of its civil administration, around [Hamas leader Yahya] Sinwar’s leadership, while fully supporting his ideology. In this sense, Gaza is very similar to Nazi Germany, where a similar process also took place. Being that this is the accurate description of the situation, so it is also correct to manage the war accordingly.
A war between states is not only won by military combat, but also by the ability of one side to break the opposing side’s system its economic capacity. First and foremost the ability to provide energy, is of the utmost importance. The collapse of Germany at the beginning of 1945 was mainly due to the loss of Romania’s oil fields, and once Germany didn’t have enough fuel for its planes and tanks – the war was won.
Here Eiland declares Israel must deny any humanitarian aid to Gaza. If it does so, it is merely prolonging the war. He follows the “total war” strategy (sometimes referred to as “scorched-earth”) of the Civil War Gen. William Sherman. He advocated making war not only on the Confederate army, but on the South’s civilian population as well. On his March to the Sea, he burned every farm, field, orchard and factory all the way to Atlanta in order to deprive the Confederates of any means to resist his advance.
This was his military philosophy:
…We must war upon and destroy the organized rebel forces,–must cut off their supplies, destroy their communications…and produce among the people of Georgia a thorough conviction of the personal misery which attends war, and the utter helplessness and inability of their ‘rulers’ to protect them…If that terror and grief and even want shall help to paralyze their husbands and fathers who are fighting us…it is mercy in the end.”
Eiland’s approach mirrors Sherman’s. He even claims that the women of Gaza are as guilty as the Hamas fighters since they birthed them:
Israel must therefore not provide the other side with any capability that prolongs its life. Moreover, we say that Sinwar is so evil that he does not care if all the residents of Gaza die.
But such a way of thinking is not accurate, since who are the “poor” women of Gaza? They are all the mothers, sisters or wives of Hamas murderers. On the one hand, they are part of the infrastructure that supports the organization, and on the other hand, if they experience a humanitarian disaster, then it can be assumed that some of the Hamas fighters and the more junior commanders will begin to understand that the war is futile and that it is better to prevent irreversible harm to their families.
Eiland, however, fails utterly to understand either Hamas or the people of Gaza. Yes, they need food to live. They need weapons to fight. But unlike the South’s failed defense of its territory, Hamas has spent decades learning to subsist on almost nothing. It has learned how to make the most of the little it has. It has learned to be self-reliant, to engineer and manufacture its own weapons. To use them the most efficient way possible.
Israel can never break Gaza’s will no matter how much suffering it inflicts. Traditions of honor and steadfastness demand no less. Loyalty to the people and the land can never be extinguished no matter how many F-35s, armed drones, tanks or Apache helicopters attack.
Here, the IDF general argues not only that Israel should deny any aid to Gaza, he even argues that disease, plagues and pestilence among the civilian population is positive since it will hasten the collapse of the Gazan will to fight. There is, in fact, ample evidence that the Palmach in the pre-and post-1948 era poisoned the wells of a score of Palestinian towns and villages in order to drive the Palestinians out and ensure they could not return. Israel has used such biological weapons, which explains why Eiland endorses a similar outcome:
The way to win the war faster and at a lower cost for us requires a system collapse on the other side and not the mere killing of more Hamas fighters. The international community warns us of a humanitarian disaster in Gaza and of severe epidemics. We must not shy away from this, as difficult as that may be. After all, severe epidemics in the south of the Gaza Strip will bring victory closer and reduce casualties among IDF soldiers. And no, this is not about cruelty for cruelty’s sake, since we don’t support the suffering of the other side as a goal but as a means.
The italicized passage is hocus-pocus: it doesn’t matter to the International Criminial Court (if it ever takes up this case) whether you inflicted genocide on a civilian population as a means or a goal. All that matters is what you did and the impact it had.
The greatest irony here is that until now Eiland had been one of the most pragmatic of Israeli security officials. Wikipedia summarizes his views:
Eiland calls for Israel to recognise Hamas as the effective government of the Gaza Strip, and cease any attempt to topple Hamas or facilitate restoration of Palestinian Authority rule in Gaza.
It’s shocking how the killing of 1,200 Israelis can transform an IDF general from a realist into a genocidal fantacist.
Eiland demands nothing less than Gaza’s unconditional surrender. Clearly, he does not understand how asymetrical warfare works in the modern age. Insurgencies are never wholly defeated. Sometimes there are negotiated resolutions based on mutual agreement. Sometimes, insurgents defeat the established regime they’re fighting against and overthrow it. But there are very few examples of the outcome (I can only think of Sri Lanka) he suggests:
The other side is given the option to end the suffering if they surrender. Sinwar will not surrender, but there is no reason for the Hamas militia commanders in the southern Gaza Strip not to surrender when they have no fuel and no water, and when the plagues reach them as well and when the danger to the lives of their women increases. The Israeli cabinet must take a harder line with the Americans, and at least have the ability to say the following: as long as all the hostages are not returned to Israel, do not talk to us about the humanitarian aspects.
The truth is that once Hamas understands Israel intends to annihilate Gaza, the hostages will never be freed. They will die. Probably not at Hamas’ hands. But at the hands of the IDF, which will kill, bomb and demolish everything living in Gaza. That will undoubtedly include the hostages. Their fate will be sealed.
As if the argument he offers doesn’t provide enough proof of genocidal intent, he ends with this full-throated endorsement of total annihilation. It means killing every civilian, even physicians and educators, considered in most societies to be the foundation of a civilization:
…We believe that humanitarian pressure is also a legitimate means of increasing the chance of seeing the hostages alive. But we must not, absolutely must not adopt the American narrative that “permits” us to fight only against Hamas fighters instead of doing the right thing -to fight against the entire opposing system because it is precisely its civil collapse that will bring the end of the war closer. When senior Israeli figures say in the media “It’s either us or them” we should clarify the question of who is “them”. “They” are not only Hamas fighters with weapons, but also all the “civilian” officials, including hospital administrators and school administrators, and also the entire Gaza population who enthusiastically supported Hamas and cheered on its atrocities on October 7th.
I would hope that if Gen. Sherman was alive to day he would stand in the docket in the Hague as a war criminal. Though of course the US refuses to sign the Rome Statute and join the ICC. So Sherman would never see his day in court. But IDF commanders with blood on their hands must be held accountable for their calls for genocide. This article is prima facie evidence of this, and should be Exhibit A in any prosecution.