The small modicum of hope I had for yesterday’s ceasefire collapsed only an hour after it began yesterday. As I reported, shortly after the 72-hour truce began, IDF heavy artillery began smothering Rafah with deadly fire that had killed 8 Palestinians at the time I finished my post.
Today brings news explaining the reason the ceasefire broke down. A Palestinian militant cell ambushed an IDF patrol of Givati brigade soldiers. One of the militants had a suicide vest and blew himself up, killing Maj. Benaya Sarel and Sgt. Liel Gidoni. Three other Israelis were seriously wounded. One of them, Second Lt. Hadar Goldin was dragged away by the fighters. But the Israelis who were unscathed in the attack invoked Hannibal and returned fire, shooting both Goldin and the militant who was dragging him away. It was a clear attempt not just to frustrate the Hamas operation and the capture, but to actually kill the Israeli soldier.
Once news of the attack arrived at the IDF High Command, they began massive shelling of Rafah, attempting to kill him. Israel’s Channel 10 news reported:
The IDF is bombing every vehicle approaching Abu Yousuf Al-Najjar hospital in Rafah.
My Israeli source goes farther and says that the massive Israeli air and artillery assault on Rafah was in revenge for the attack. 60 Palestinians were killed in the barrage.
According to Hamas’ military wing, which conducted the attack, the members of the unit which ambushed the IDF were killed afterward along with Goldin:
We lost contact with the group of fighters that were stationed at that location and we believe that all members of the unit were martyred and the soldier the enemy says went missing was killed in the Zionist shelling, assuming that the fighters did capture him during the confrontation.
We in Qassam have no knowledge up to this moment about the missing soldier, nor his whereabouts nor the circumstances of his disappearance.
In other words, the IDF killed its own soldier.
Though IDF ethicist Asa Kasher and others have argued here that Hannibal does not call for the killing of the captured soldier, it’s clear in this instance, in which Goldin was long gone and there was no hope of rescuing him, that the IDF’s goal was to kill him; thus neutralizing any benefit Hamas might derive from holding an IDF soldier. I want to state this very clearly: Hannibal not only condones murder, it calls for it. Now, Israelis may argue that this if this is an act of murder or deliberate killing, that it only will happen in desperate, extenuating circumstances that are viewed by Israelis as endangering state security. To which I reply: nonsense. While there may be reasons explaining why the IDF would deliberately kill its own soldiers, no other western military would do such a thing.
Israel has gone from a country that never leaves a soldier behind; to a country that kills any soldier it can’t save. This is the mark of a state that, if it ever behaved according to humanist values, has become a brutalist state.
The circumstances of the attack in which Hamas was defending Gaza from attacks by the IDF confirms my own criticism of the ceasefire that was announced. A ceasefire means both sides stop military operations against the other. Any IDF activity inside Gaza is offensive. No ceasefire I’ve ever heard of gives one side the opportunity to continue targeting the other.
After the attack, Netanyahu angrily denounced U.S. pressure in favor of a ceasefire telling the U.S. ambassador that the U.S. should “never second guess him again.” All this means Israel will attempt to ratchet up the pressure on Gaza and Hamas. Israeli troops will sink further into the quicksand of this military adventure. More Israeli boys will die. It goes without saying that the Palestinian death toll, now over 1,600, will soon hit the 2,000 mark. One wonders whether there’s a certain number beyond which the world will begin taking notice and action.
Maj. Benaya Sarel was listed as #33 on the Operation Cast Lead criminal list.