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.