Yesterday, a devastating tunnel attack by Palestinian fighters inside Israel killed five soldiers in a border outpost inside Israel. The IDF put out a story that turns out to be false, that they were killed by an RPG rocket that struck their pillbox killing them. A Hamas video of the incident shows that this version is a fraud. Actually, the enemy fighters crept up on the outpost in the early evening and killed the five at virtually point-blank range.
Haaretz, not one to rock the boat in any extreme fashion in such potentially embarrassing circumstances, offers this:
The video does not show Hamas militants firing an anti-tank missile at the forces, as the Israeli military had reported.
My Israeli source confirms that the soldiers who died were all asleep when attacked. There was one soldier who was supposed to be on guard duty. He was located at the top of the structure and asleep as well. When he heard the shooting he awoke and began firing at the attackers. They were attempting to take the body of the one of the dead soldiers back to Gaza. He killed one of the attackers and the rest left the soldier’s corpse behind and escaped.
These Israeli boys died in an attack that speaks of massive negligence either on the part of the soldiers themselves or their commanders. The IDF too has lied in a brazen way to protect its reputation. Bad enough if they were killed in an RPG attack, but to allow the Palestinians point blank access to the pillbox? Astonishing malfeasance.
There will be many who believe that I post material like this to embarrass the IDF or Israel. Not at all. Of course, I believe the Gaza war is an abomination and that attacks like the one featured here wouldn’t happen unless the IDF had killed 1,100 Palestinians. But that’s besides the point. In this case, the IDF is betraying its soldiers and lying to the public about what happened. Transparency in the face of such disasters is the best approach. How else could you avoid such fashlahs in future unless there is accountability in the ranks, and accountability to the Israeli public?
This is the spirit behind this frame-by-frame analysis of the film provided by a Rotter member. His analysis was removed by the moderators at Rotter. Luckily, the HaKafe forum has more willingness to expose this incident to the public and has republished it. Here is the summary in translation (the full Hebrew text is here):
“Terrorists” approach the outpost and fire at point blank range. Both the outer gate and inner door of the pillbox is open. If there are soldiers inside, they’re apparently asleep. There is no return fire on the terrorists. They simply enter the site firing. They attempt to drag away a soldier who’s either wounded or unconscious. He screams out from his wounds. They kill him with shooting, blows, or both.
There was no anti-tank fire [as claimed by the IDF]. The IDF spokesperson lied.
There are those among pro-Israel advocates who argue that attacks like this prove that Israel must fight to the end to destroy all the tunnels. They will say there is no justification for attacking soldiers inside Israel. While I might agree with this under normal (non-war) circumstances, in the context of a war in which the IDF has killed 1,100 Palestinians as an invading force inside a foreign country, those Palestinians have a right to resist. I would say the same if a foreign country invaded Israel. Whether Israelis like it or not, they are invaders and when you invade a foreign country the victims have the right to resist both on their home turf and they have the right to take it to the invaders’ home turf.
Further, if Israelis truly wanted to end attacks they would negotiate an agreement the Palestinians. Instead of lambasting John Kerry for having the temerity to believe Gazans deserve the end of the crippling Israeli siege, they’d end it and recognize Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital and concede the Right of Return. Short of this, the bloodshed can only continue.
UPDATE: The last time IDF shells struck a UN school, they killed 15 including many women and children. Today, Israeli tank fire (the same lethal weapon that struck the Beit Hanoun school) struck another, this one a girls school in Jabaliya refugee camp run by UNWRA. This time 20 Palestinians died. Unlike last time, there isn’t even a hint of hesitation that the IDF was responsible.
There are reports that Hamas officials are on their way to Egypt to discuss a “temporary humanitarian” ceasefire proposal. All I can say is that any longer-term proposal that doesn’t end Israel’s siege should be null and void. Why are these poor people dying at Israel’s hands if not to end this savage injustice that has continued for nearly a decade?
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.