Yesterday, the Israeli Black Hebrew community released a statement about Toveet Radcliffe’s death, four days after the tragedy, which demanded that the Israeli military provide clear, straight-forward answers about this tragedy. The press release noted that the Black Hebrews, a community which made aliyah to Israel beginning in the 1960s, began sending their children to military service eleven years ago. This is the first time one of their own has fallen. It would be one thing had the first soldier died in battle. But to have this sort of tragedy befall them seems doubly senseless and tragic.
The first Israeli media report has been published at an independent site called HaMakom. It largely summarizes my own post (without linking to it) and the new press statement. But this is the first one. Let’s hope a groundswell of coverage follows.
Here is the community statement:
We, the Hebrew community are struck by grief as a result of the tragic death of our daughter, Toveet Radcliffe, the daughter of Yisrael z”l. The grief is even graver and more profound in light of the catastrophe at the military base, occuring during a time when we are not even in the midst of active military conflict. Toveet is the first soldier from the heart of our community killed during military service in the eleven years during which our children have been serving in the IDF.
Our hearts and prayers are with the family in this time of sorrow and we know our pain is understood and felt by many families in Israel who’ve lost their dear ones while serving the nation.
Our loss is made even more bitter in light of hard questions which still have not been answered. Among them:
1. We were told she [Toveet] was on guard duty in a secure military facility between the hours of 10PM-12 midnight.
2. They found her shot in the face, but never told us whether the shots were fired from her own gun or not.
3. They haven’t clarified whether she was shot once or twice.
4. It is quite strange that no one heard shots on the military base at that late hour at night.
5. Her body was found only after a soldier arrived to relieve her on guard duty. This is highly unusual in light of our understanding of military procedure in which a soldier doesn’t stand guard alone and especially a female soldier. When soldiers do guard duty they are monitored every quarter hour to confirm their safety. Apparently, this procedure was not observed in this case. Why?
6. It’s reasonable to assume that in a sensitive security area within a military base there would be a surveillance system, but we were told there were no such security cameras in the area. Very strange.
7. We were met with conflicting and inconsistent versions [of the events leading to Toveet’s death]. For example, in the original report we were told they found her lifeless in her bedroom but afterward we were told she shot herself while standing guard.
These are only a few of the basic questions to which we demand answers in the effort to comprehend this terrible tragedy. We urge the military investigators to perform their work honestly, faithfully and urgently. The family and the entire community are shrouded in sadness and wait for their conclusions.
We are certain the investigators are aware that our hearts are in their hands and that they treat them as is fitting and proper. At this stage, we will restrict our comments until we know what really happened.
Adiv Ben Yehuda
Yukin Ben Yisrael
Not content to cover-up Toveet’s death, the IDF has compounded the tragedy by noting in its online memorial page for Toveet that she’s male, rather than female. I guess when you make a big blunder you’ll make lots of smaller ones as well. You’d think having caused enough suffering to this family at least they could get this small matter right.
I just published a new piece at Middle East Eye about the IDF’s effort to forestall war crimes charges regarding the Gaza war and its use of the horrifying Hannibal Directive. This piece summarizes my previous reporting on Hannibal and my role as the first journalist to confirm that it involved the IDF deliberately killing its own soldiers and massive numbers of enemy civlians as well.
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.