There have been several important developments regarding Israel’s Mohammed Deif assassination plot. Two Arab publications published stories (English language report in Times of Israel) indicating that during the Cairo ceasefire talks Khaled Meshal determined it was necessary to speak with Mohammed Deif. He called him by phone. In doing so, Israeli intelligence intercepted it and was able to pinpoint Deif’s location. This information was forwarded to the IDF, which planned and executed the assassination plot which ended in the death of 12 Gaza civilians, including Deif’s pregnant wife, a son and daughter and members of the al Dalou family which owned the house.
Jodi Rudoren seems to have overlooked that fact in writing this bit of treacle in the NY Times:
Israel this week deployed its extensive intelligence capabilities and overwhelming firepower in targeted bombings with limited civilian casualties less likely to raise the world’s ire.
Are 12 dead “limited?” I suppose if you compare 12 dead with the 160 Israel massacred after the Rafah tunnel attack, then it is more limited. But is this an ‘acceptable’ number of civilian dead for anyone but the IDF and Jodi Rudoren?
Israel organized the attack as it was supposedly negotiating a ceasefire with Hamas. The go-ahead was given to execute the plan within minutes of rogue elements in Gaza firing three rockets which caused no injuries or damage inside Israel. This broke the ceasefire and enabled Israel to attack. As I noted in a previous post, Amir Oren even hints in his Haaretz article that Israel in the past has orchestrated provocations which it’s exploited to carry out similar such attacks. So there is a distinct possibility that Israel either covertly arranged for the missile attack or manipulated Palestinian forces into firing them.
At any rate, such conniving and deceit on Israel’s part makes a mockery of this Rudoren hasbara-passing-for-journalism:
Hamas is the party that keeps extending this summer’s bloody battle in the Gaza Strip, repeatedly breaking temporary truces…
Let’s look at the record: Israel ransacked the West Bank thus provoking the initial missile barrage. Then Israel produced a fake ceasefire agreement which it wrote and presented to Egypt. The latter lied, claiming Hamas had been consulted and agreed to it, when it hadn’t. Now, Israel exploited ceasefire talks to enable it to try to murder Hamas’ military chief. So who’s “breaking temporary truces?”
I should point out that both Arabic language articles say that when Meshal called Deif, he violated longstanding Hamas security protocols. The reports say that Deif’s bodyguards grew suspicious and hustled him out of his hiding place. Thus his life was spared. There has been no confirmation of his death or survival. Though I reported my Israeli source saying there was a 90% chance Deif had been killed, I wonder why a devout Islamist movement wouldn’t have held a funeral as is required under Islamic (and Jewish) law?
Let’s look at another problematic element of the assassination plot. An Israeli twitter user claiming access to inside security sources, @Gr8_guy was one of the first (early on August 20th) to tweet with specific information about the weaponry used:
The house where the Family of Mohammed Deif was killed & possibly he himself was hit by 5 US made GBU28 laser-guided “bunker busting” bombs
— Smartguy (@Gr8_guy) August 20, 2014
Palestinians followed. I read media sources who said Hamas made the same claim. My own Israeli inside source confirmed that U.S. bunker busters were used, but he would not confirm the specific type.
Both Jodi Rudoren and Amos Harel reported, no doubt based on IDF or other Israeli official sources, that Israel used five “one-ton” bombs to destroy the home. The reason this is important is that the GBU28 is a 5,000 lb. (or 2.5 ton) bomb. Claiming a one-ton bomb was used would enable the IDF to claim the weapon was Israeli made since it does produce such a munition (which is itself based on a U.S. design). This is the sort of confusion and diversionary tactic in which Israel specializes. My strong sense is that what Rudoren and Harel were told was a lie.
Further, no matter what bomb was used, the aircraft that delivered the bomb to its target was for certain U.S.-made. So the Obama administration, which recently made a point of suspending Israeli access to Hellfire missiles in protest against the ongoing carnage in Gaza, has yet again gotten a finger in the eye from the Israelis. Netanyahu, someone who minutely calibrates his status vis a vis his political rivals and enemies, would relish the opportunity to assassinate a Hamas leader with a U.S.-made weapon, thus further implicating us in his war.
In other words, the Deif assassination (attempt) has U.S. fingerprints all over it. We bought and paid for it. We enabled it. We are hardly less guilty than the Israeli generals and intelligence agents who planned it or the pilot who dropped it.
In case anyone claims I’m criticizing this act because I have a soft spot for Hamas or Deif: not true. I have little doubt the sort of person he is. Nor do I have much doubt Israel helped make him that way. But the truth is that assassinations are short-cuts that enable you not to have a real policy or approach to your enemy. They enable you to hold him at bay for a time. But they are a dead-end in terms of solving real problems using real solutions. Not to mention that they are extra-judicial executions and state-sponsored terrorism, a violation of international law.
Ironically, the U.S. has little to complain about since we’ve aped Israel’s own counter-terror policy with our drone assassinations. A tactic that Pres. Obama has embraced because he too has no constructive policy of engagement regarding the Arab-Muslim world.
I’ve tried for the past two days to get anyone at the State or Defense Departments to comment on this story, without success. The State Dept. press officer pointed me to a useless transcript of the last media briefing which contained no reference to this subject. When I pointed that out, the PR flack forwarded me to the Political-Military Affaris unit of State, which I e-mailed without success. If anyone from the Pentagon is reading this, Commander Bill Speaks, I left you a message today and didn’t hear back. I’d love to.
I wonder why the U.S. government isn’t taking my calls?
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.