The Financial Times reports on the scale of destruction in Gaza:
Citing estimates of damage to urban areas, military analysts say the destruction of northern Gaza in less than seven weeks has approached that caused by the years-long carpet-bombing of German cities during the second world war [bold mine-DL].
“Dresden, Hamburg, Cologne – some of the world’s heaviest-ever bombings are remembered by their place names,” said Robert Pape, a US military historian and author of Bombing to Win, a landmark survey of 20th century bombing campaigns. “Gaza will also go down as a place name denoting one of history’s heaviest conventional bombing campaigns.”
Like the many other bombing campaigns before it, this one wreaks havoc on the civilian population without doing much to achieve the stated goals of the government doing the bombing. Pape wrote a recent article for Foreign Affairs in which he spelled out the failure of the Israeli bombing campaign:
Whatever the ultimate goal, Israel’s collective devastation of Gaza raises deep moral problems. But even judged purely in strategic terms, Israel’s approach is doomed to failure – and indeed, it is already failing.
Like other policies of collective punishment, bombing the civilian population typically fails to weaken the regime or group that the policy is supposed to be targeting. Instead of turning the population against the regime or group, it naturally intensifies the population’s hostility to those responsible for the bombing. To the extent that bombing has an effect on the population’s political views, it will tend to drive them into the arms of hardliners. Even if some significant percentage of Hamas fighters are killed in this war, the IDF has been acting as the lead recruiter for militant groups with its brutal and criminal bombing campaign.
The immediate consequences for the population are dire. Now that the military campaign has moved to southern Gaza, there is every reason to expect the same extent of destruction there. Palestinians in southern Gaza have said that the pace of strikes by the Israeli military is even faster than it was before the truce. Some in our government fear that the campaign in the south could be even worse than it was in the north:
Despite repeated calls for Israeli restraint from senior figures in the Biden administration, U.S. intelligence assesses the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are committed to “business as usual,” with only limited concern about civilian casualties, a U.S. official said, and there are suspicions the renewed campaign is actually bloodier than the previous offensive in northern Gaza.
Daniel Larison is a contributing editor for Antiwar.com and maintains his own site at Eunomia. He is former senior editor at The American Conservative. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.