by Jonathan Cook
Global Research, January 12, 2009
".....But Israel has also struck a range of patently civilian targets, including government buildings, universities, mosques and medical clinics, as well as schools. It has tried to argue, with less success, that the connection between these public institutions and Hamas, the enclave’s ruler, make them legitimate targets.
A second aspect of the military strategy was to declare areas of Gaza “combat zones” in which the army would have free rein and from which residents would be expected to flee. If they did not, they would lose their civilian status and become legitimate targets.
That policy already appears to have been implemented in the form of aerial leafleting campaigns warning residents to leave such areas as Rafah and northern Gaza. In the past few days Israeli commanders have been boasting about the extreme violence they are using in these locations.
The goal in both Rafah and northern Gaza may be to ensure that they remain largely unpopulated: in the case of Rafah, to make tunnelling to Egypt harder; and in the northern Strip, from which rockets have been fired at longer ranges, to ensure they do not reach Tel Aviv.
In a third phase such tactics would probably be significantly extended as the army pushed onwards. Swathes of Gaza might be declared closed military zones, with their residents effectively herded into the main population centres.
As Mr Barak was unveiling his strategy a year ago, the interior minister, Meir Sheetrit, suggested that the army “decide on a neighbourhood in Gaza and level it”. If a third phase begins, it remains to be seen whether Israel will pursue such measures."