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Gaza War, Day 22: 10 IDF Soldiers Killed Today, 1,100 Palestinians Killed Overall

gaza playground massacre

Woman wails over children killed while playing on a playground swingset.

Today brings the second-highest number of IDF deaths during all of Operation Protective Edge. Ten soldiers were killed today.  Five died in a Hamas ambush inside Israel.  Another five were killed in a mortar attack.  53 have been killed so far.

What’s astonishing about the ambush is that the tunnel that allowed the Gazan fighters to infiltrate wasn’t unknown to the IDF.  In fact, Army Radio reports that the IDF had identified it:

IDF spokesman, Brig. Gen. Moti Almoz said: “We knew about the tunnel from which the attack occurred.    We’ll never be able to promise a 100% success rate [in neutralizing tunnels].  It’s possible there will be other similar incidents like this one [in future] since Hamas is always trying [to penetrate our defenses].  Apparently, we knew about this tunnel.   We knew it existed.  The matter will be investigated.

The failure to neutralize the tunnel seems an outrageous act of malfeasance.  How can an IDF general face the grieving families knowing he couldn’t prevented these deaths.  But almost no one is ever held accountable for such fashlahs in Israel.  Nor do I expect accountability in this instance either.

Nine Gazan children were killed in an IDF attack on a swing set in the park where they were playing.  The IDF claims, without offering any proof, that it was an errant Hamas shell that killed them.  Frankly, I have heard no evidence of any Hamas shells killing anyone during this particular invasion.  So I automatically discount the IDF account as lies.  Recall that in most similar situations like the Beit Hanoun UN school massacre, the Israeli army first trots out the “Hamas did it” mantra.  But within days it fesses up and acknowledges that it caused the mayhem (of course, always accidentally).  If some countries who’ve lost wars killed as many people “accidentally” as Israel has, they’d likely have been the victors!

Israel destroyed the home of Hamas political chief, Ismail Haniyeh.  I’d like Israeli to consider that if they can commit such brazen acts of vengeance against the leadership of their enemy, that enemies around the world will have little compunction in taking their own vengeance.  As I’ve often said here: what goes around comes around.  Israel is a bulwark.  Hard to penetrate.  Well-protected.  But the essence of guerilla war is not to target your enemy head on, but to probe for the weakest point.  So I don’t presume Bibi Netanyahu’s home will be destroyed in a future attack.  But you can be sure there will be one.  And not necessarily by anyone associated with Hamas.  Such unrestrained mayhem provokes not just the immediate victims, but all Arabs, all Muslims throughout the world.

Today a former Shin Bet deputy chief and current MK told EU diplomats they can expect Islamist terrorists in their “homes, under their beds and in their kindergardens.”  Leave aside the utter idiocy of such a harebrained comment.  The truth in the comment is that Islamism is fueled by such Israeli blood vengeance.  Not only will Europeans suffer.  Diaspora Jews will suffer as well.  We can protest against the conflation of Jews and Israelis.  Israel’s enemies should distinguish between Israeli and Jews.  But given that the current rightist government implicates all of world Jewry in its machinations, why would those seeking vengeance necessarily make such a distinction.  Of course, if avengers target Jews, Israel will be the first to cry anti-Semitism and Jew-hatred.  But they, at least in part, have only themselves to blame.

Though it hurts to say this, Diaspora Jews, in some respect, are to blame as well.  They have not distanced themselves from Israel’s blood lust.  If not cheerleading, they’ve been content to stand on the sidelines and watch is silence as the Palestinian bodies pile up like cordwood.  Diaspora Jews, especially liberal Zionists who should know better, stand speechless.  They don’t know what to do or say.  Their silence only gives the killers further rope to hang themselves with the blood of Palestinians on their necks.

As for our government, don’t get me started.  Israel rejected John Kerry’s latest ceasefire proposal.  Our response?  Here’s how ABC characterizes it:

…There is growing U.S. frustration with the mounting number of Palestinian casualties …

If I had a dollar for every time a U.S. official was quoted saying this to a reporter during this war, I’d be a rich man.  ‘Frustration’ doesn’t mean squat.  Only actions mean anything.  And there is no action.

Eran Efrati, an activist with Anarchists Against the Wall, is in the Israel-Gaza theater.  He published this astonishing post in Facebook.  As you read it keep in mind that he’s talking about the killing of 7 IDF soldiers in an outdated APC who died after an anti-tank shell struck their vehicle.  The deaths of so many just after the land invasion began, was a deep shock to the Israeli nation and especially their comrades.  Instead of taking it out on the battlefield against Palestinian fighters, the IDF took it out on the most vulnerable, Palestinian civilians, who were most visible and available targets:

 Soldiers in two different units inside Gaza leaked information about the murdering of Palestinians by sniper fire in Shuja’iyya neighborhood as punishment for the death of soldiers in their units. After the shooting on the Israeli armored personnel carriers, which killed seven soldiers of the Golani Brigade, the Israeli army carried out a massacre in Shuja’iyya neighborhood.

A day after the massacre, many Palestinians came to search for their relatives and their families in the rubble. In one of the videos uploaded to YouTube, a young Palestinian man Salem Shammaly calls the names of his family and looking for them between the ruins when he is suddenly shot at in his chest and falls down. A few seconds after that, there are two additional shots from snipers into his body, killing him instantly.

Since the video was released, there was no official response from the IDF spokesperson. Today I can report that the official command that was handed down to the soldiers in Shujaiyya was to capture Palestinian homes as outposts. From these posts, the soldiers drew an imaginary red line, and amongst themselves decided to shoot to death anyone who crosses it. Anyone crossing the line was defined as a threat to their outposts, and was thus deemed a legitimate target. This was the official reasoning inside the units. I was told that the unofficial reason was to enable the soldiers to take out their frustrations and pain at losing their fellow soldiers (something that for years the IDF has not faced during its operations in Gaza and the West Bank), out on the Palestinian refugees in the neighborhood. Under the pretext of the so-called “security threat” soldiers were directed to carry out a pre-planned attack of revenge on Palestinian civilians.

These stories join many other similar ones that Amira Hass and I investigated in Operation Cast Lead. The death toll that continues to rise is steadily reaching the numbers of the massacre of 2009.

What Efrati is revealing is a semi-officially sanctioned My Lai-type massacre.  The Man in Green murdered in cold blood in the YouTube video wasn’t killed by a lone gunman operating on his own.  His murder was approved as an act of vengeance on all of Gaza.  Let’s remember that 120 Palestinians died that night in Shejaia.  This was no accident.  They weren’t collateral damage.  They were the targets.

I don’t know how many times I can use the word “shame” before it loses its value.  But this is an act of deep shame.  A stain on Israel and anyone who cares about Israel.

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{ 22 comments… add one }
  • walter benjamin July 29, 2014, 12:32 AM

    87% of the Israeli population is for continuing the operation in Gaza. I have been here close to 50yrs and never has there been an majority like this e.g. 7+ out of 8 citizens for the continuation.
    That’s democracy for you or the Israelis are just a nation of fascists.

    • Richard Silverstein July 29, 2014, 12:41 AM

      @ fake walter benjamin: Don’t be stupid. The support for Israeli wars is overwhelming in EVERY WAR, including the ones that later turn out to be disasters like Lebanon 2006.

      • walter benjamin July 29, 2014, 12:55 AM

        overwhelming, maybe, but not 87%

      • donald July 29, 2014, 8:46 AM

        I sometimes forget the political stances of some of the regulars here. In “fake” walter’s case (I’m also confused about the “fake”), I wasn’t sure how to read his comment–was he correctly saying that democracies can democratically choose to think like fascists? Judging from your reaction, no.

        Incidentally, would that 7+ out of 8 include the Israeli citizens who are Palestinian?

        • Deïr Yassin July 29, 2014, 11:15 AM

          No, Palestinian citizens of Israel are never included in that kind of poll, if you notice they all go ” (…)% of Israeli Jews think that (…)”

    • marc b. July 29, 2014, 11:08 AM

      well that leaves room for improvement doesn’t it? with a bit more effort, maybe you can bump that up to 98% approval, the kind of polling results you find in North Korea or Kazakhstan.

  • Strelnikov July 29, 2014, 1:19 AM

    So the IDF has lost one and a half platoon’s worth of soldiers (if the IDF has stuck to around 36 soldiers per platoon, that is.)

    Richard was right, the IDF has been dull battleaxe and not the rapier the Israeli government thinks it is…..they’ve killed the equivalent of the population of Boulder, Montana minus eighty-three all for nothing.

  • Oui July 29, 2014, 1:41 AM

    I saw your tweet about the massacre in Shuja’iyya neighborhood. A day after the massacre, many Palestinians came to search for their relatives and their families in the rubble. In one of the videos uploaded to YouTube, a young Palestinian man Salem Shammaly.

    Coverage in The New York Times, and for once an excellent article Palestinian Family Finds Missing Son in YouTube Video of His Shooting.

  • Oui July 29, 2014, 1:45 AM

    Two Americans Killed by ‘Terrorists’ in Gaza

    An illustration how well state propaganda works. Exactly why U.S. soldiers died in Vietnam, I was a kid but an what older Polish immigrant neighbour sent his only son to Vietnam to fight the commies over there. He gave his life for his father’s revenge. In following article, David Siegel from the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles stated: “… to really defend the civilized world against the threat of Islamic terrorism.”

    Americans from Texas, California killed in Gaza

  • Arie Brand July 29, 2014, 3:57 AM

    And here the ground is shifting as well. Protests against Israel were thus far virtually unheard of in the Australian parliament but look at the list below. Dr.Danny Lamm. President of the Zionist Federation of Australia, has, in reaction, come up with the usual claptrap about Hamas militants hiding among the population (as if in an area one fifth the urban area of Sydney with a population of 1.8 million there would be any other possibility). He also claims that people don’t understand “the wider context”. How often have we heard that. On the contrary Dr.Lamm. People now understand the context so thoroughly that they can’t bear remaining silent any longer.

    25 July 2014
    We the undersigned members of Australian federal and state parliaments, call on all Australian politicians to condemn the ongoing Israeli military bombardment and invasion of Gaza.
    We call on Australian politicians to support an immediate cessation of hostilities and a ceasefire deal which includes an end to Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories and to the blockade of Gaza.
    We call on all Australian politicians to also support the United Nations Human Rights Council’s decision to launch an independent inquiry into purported violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.
    Over 1000* Palestinians in Gaza have been killed, since Israel started its military attack on Gaza three weeks ago. The United Nations says at least 75 percent of the dead are civilians, including an estimated 168 children. In the last two days, Palestinian children have been killed at a rate of one per hour.
    The rockets fired from Gaza are not in any way justified and insofar as they threaten and harm civilians are illegal under international law. However, these imprecise rockets cannot be compared with the broad-scale bombing of Gaza by Israel which has one of the world’s largest military forces.
    Collective punishment is not permitted under the Geneva conventions and is a war crime.
    Hospitals, places of worship, and a centre for people with disabilities have been among the Israeli military’s targets.
    The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is providing shelter to more than 102,788 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
    The international community including Australia has a vital responsibility to put pressure on Israel to end its current military attack on Gaza and broker a solution of justice and peace.
    *updated 27 July 2014
    Signed by –
    1. Maria Vamvakinou MP
    2. Melissa Parke MP
    3. Laurie Ferguson MP
    4. Alan Griffin MP
    5. Sharon Claydon MP
    6. Adam Bandt MP
    7. Barbara Perry MP
    8. Andrew Giles MP
    9. Paul Lynch MP
    10. Jamie Parker MP
    11. Lynda Voltz MLC
    12. Shaoquett Moselmane MLC
    13. David Shoebridge MLC
    14. Dr Mehreen Faruqi MLC
    15. Dr John Kaye MLC
    16. Jeremy Buckingham MLC
    17. Jan Barham MLC
    18. Senator Claire Moore
    19. Senator Nick Xenophon
    20. Senator Christine Milne
    21. Senator Lee Rhiannon
    22. Senator Sarah Hanson-Young
    23. Senator Larissa Waters
    24. Senator Janet Rice
    25. Senator Richard Di Natale
    26. Senator Penny Wright
    27. Senator Rachel Siewert
    28. Senator Scott Ludlam
    29. Senator Peter Whish-Wilson
    30. Senator Sue Lines
    31. Tammy Franks MLC
    32. Graham Perrett MP
    33. Senator Anne Urquhart
    34. Terri Butler MP
    35. Julie Owens MP
    36. Lisa Chesters MP
    37. Senator Gavin Marshall
    38. Senator Anne McEwen
    39. Senator Carol Brown
    40. Senator Doug Cameron
    41. Cassy O’Connor MP

  • Shmuel July 29, 2014, 4:24 AM

    Richard:
    Taking your logic further that all Jews are to blame for not standing up to Israel, the follow up is blaming all Muslims for not condemning (ever) all forms of terrorism that were committed by fanatic Muslims like Hamas.
    Why should, as you write, ‘all Arabs.. All Muslims’ be provoked by Israel? Is this war anti Muslim? Is it anti Arab? No, it is not religious as you state over and over but about land-grabbing, no?
    If a Muslim is up in arms as a Muslim, rather than for humanitarian reasons then why ought Jews behave differently?

  • Ahhiyawa July 29, 2014, 6:38 AM

    The IDF is not promenading throughout Gaza as it had in the 2008/09 fiasco, but has been checked and confined to the borderlands. This latest fighting also proves the IDF has not consolidated the areas it has been fighting in, because its still subject to HAMAS counter operations, H & I fires, cross border raids and rocket mortars.

    Israel has rudely learned to its humiliation and cost that its not fighting a bunch of terrorists, but a highly trained and competent military. If the IDF can’t break out of the current trap HAMAS has laid for it, Israel is facing an infinitely far greater strategic “disaster” than it suffered from Cast Lead. Nor can they just pack up, leave and claim victory. At this stage of the game no one is going to believe it, even the US.

    The old tactic of blasting to smithereens everything in sight with naval, air and ground firepower is as dead a tactic in Gaza as it is in Lebanon. HAMAS is forcing Israel into a ground fight it wants to avoid, but must wage if its going to claim any measure of justification or success from this latest invasion.

  • ben July 29, 2014, 12:15 PM

    I ran into this really interesting article about the smuggling tunnels from 2007 to 2012. It’s a great read. Things of note were by 2011 160 kids have died in their construction and a really depressing paragraph about how mursi was going to make rafah a free trade zone but the army put the kibosh on it. Moreover it goes on to say that even if the blockade was lifted tomorrow the tunnels would still be used. I highly recommend reading this
    http://palestine-studies.org/journals.aspx?id=11424&jid=1&href=fulltext

  • Serah July 29, 2014, 2:08 PM

    Just wanted to let you know that your links need updating. In case you are not aware. MJRosenberg link is dead. Also, there was a story at Barts Notes, which claims that a Daily Mail reporter who was Jewish was the victim of a smear campaign.
    http://barthsnotes.com/2014/07/08/someone-pretends-to-be-a-daily-mail-journalist-pretending-to-be-an-jihadi

  • David July 29, 2014, 8:28 PM

    “Israel’s enemies should distinguish between Israeli and Jews.” This is problematic. A decent case could be made that such a distinction really begs the question. Zionist Israel is, as much as anything else, a project of the Jewish people. It could not have started, progressed or grown economically and geographically without the support of the Jewish people worldwide. In this regard, Jewish Americans must figure exceptionally large. Sure – some Jews are opposed to the very idea of Israel and some opposed to particular policies of that state like the occupation, etc. For that matter, some Israeli Jews (however few) are also opposed to the Israeli Government’s policies. Nonetheless, Zionist Israel is a product of the Jewish people just as National Socialism represented, for better or worse, the German people at one time. The dissenting Israeli is nonetheless an Israeli and a “proper” target for any Palestinians looking for revenge for the murder of their people. It is not hard to envision how a Zionist Jew living in Europe might also be an appropriate target as they too are a positive source of Palestinian misery. And still further, a dissenting Jew in the EU or the US might also be a sensible target as the State of Israel is, has been, a collective project of the Jewish people as a whole in any case and Jewish life is apparently so precious to the Zionist state.

    There’s more to say about all this, but my point is that it is wrong to suggest that Israel’s enemies should have to make a distinction (between Israeli and Jew) that is really not so much of a distinction. Technically, I am not an Israeli or a Zionist. Yet, I am a Jew and my coreligionists have perpetrated this calumny on another people and therefore we are, each of us, morally responsible for Israel’s policies, even though we may eschew the Jewish nationalism that built this state. If all Jews are held liable for the Zionist disaster we might find some fervent American Zionists coming over to an anti-Zionist position. After all, many of them are erstwhile Zionists, declining to relocate even though demographics remains the overriding central problem of the Zionist Jewish state. One does certainly wonder why these Zionist Jews do not add their bodies, move their families, relocate their professions and businesses to the state which needs them so and which they worship. Yet, they do not.

    In any case, I think there is a sense, perhaps it is a moral sense, in which the identification of Israeli and Jew is appropriate and right and I wanted to lay it out here. I feel some responsibility for the crimes of Israel and I never ever supported the enterprise: I just stayed deaf and dumb for decades.

  • Citizen of the World July 29, 2014, 9:10 PM

    Another piece of information that might be interesting from 29.07:

    “In a related development, UNRWA said that a cache of rockets was found today at one of its schools in central Gaza. The discovery came during a regular UNRWA inspection of the school, which was closed for the summer and not being used as a shelter. All the relevant parties have been notified.”

    • Yeah, so? July 30, 2014, 12:31 AM

      “UNRWA said that a cache of rockets was found today at one of its schools in central Gaza. The discovery came during a regular UNRWA inspection of the school, which was closed for the summer and not being used as a shelter.”

      If it isn’t open as a school and it isn’t being used as a shelter then the accusation that Hamas is hiding its weapons AMONGST THE CIVILIANS is incorrect.

      It is using the school as a weapons warehouse, sure, and that’s grim news for the UNRWA.

      But that in and of itself is not a violation of the laws of war.

      It would be if that school was being used as a school – or as a shelter – but it isn’t if that school is….. empty.

  • Fran July 29, 2014, 2:01 PM

    @ Citizen of the World: Wow!
    That was incredibly overwhelming evidence.

  • Oui July 29, 2014, 2:11 PM

    Italian reporter, you should also appreciate his latest tweet …

    gabrielebarbati @gabrielebarbati • 4 uur

    I missed this example of journalism Jon Snow ‘annihilates’ Israeli spokesperson Mark Regev: via @YouTube

  • Citizen of the World July 29, 2014, 8:44 PM

    [comment deleted: I've decided that you're either a paid hasbara operative or else functioning in the same way. You're now moderated. Only comments that aren't part of an anti-Hamas pro-Israel propaganda war will be published. You're also monopolizing the comment threads by publishing far more than 3 comments per day.]

  • Citizen of the World July 29, 2014, 8:58 PM

    What’s your point?

  • Citizen of the World July 30, 2014, 2:27 AM

    [comment deleted: hey that was funny. Once moderated, snark posing as "wit" will earn you losing your comment privileges entirely.]

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