Sunday, August 03, 2014

The Bloody Games They Play

 TEL AVIV, Saturday night July 26. (photo by Dov Khenin). But Netanyahu and IDF carry on, and last night mounted police were out to thwart another demonstration. 

SO, Israeli soldier Hadar Goldin was dead anyway

According to Israel Radio, Goldin, an officer in the Givati Brigade, was part of a group of soldiers who had found a Hamas tunnel in a rural area near Rafah overnight Thursday-Friday, and they were working on decommissioning it when they were attacked on Friday morning.
Goldin’s group was targeted, and two other soldiers close to him, Benaya Sarel and Liel Gidoni, were killed in an explosion, apparently detonated by a Hamas suicide bomber.
Goldin was seized by other gunmen, and other soldiers who reached the scene tried to chase after the kidnappers, into the tunnel, but they were unable to thwart the kidnapping.
IDF troops had been searching throughout Friday and Saturday for Goldin in the Rafah area.
Hamas denied it had any information on a kidnapped soldier.

Read more: Soldier Hadar Goldin is dead, not kidnapped, IDF tells family | The Times of Israel
Note, that whereas other armies, and especially the IDF, are allowed to capture their enemies, take prisoners, detain or even "arrest" them in their own homes in occupied land, Palestinian forces can only "abduct" or "kidnap" those they seize in action invading their country. Keep repeating this till you've got the language right and - like many not just in Israel, but more important, Western media, you can become accustomed to the racialism without really trying.

If the IDF had not been sure whether Goldin was dead, their response to his reported capture was to send tanks in to the area around Rafeah, in the southern Gaza strip, shelling it ferociously to flatten an entire neighbourhood, destroying dozens of houses and killing an estimated 50 Palestinians. So while Lieutenant Goldin's father was loyally saying in front of the cameras that he was sure the army would do everything it could to rescue his son, it looked like the Israeli military chiefs were more concerned with saving face than with saving the soldier. If Goldin was still live the barrage of shelling would most likely have finished both him and his captors. Some reports say this was the intention, that the military had adopted what has been called the "Hannibal doctrine", to kill your own  man rather than let him be used as a hostage.  

The report that Goldin was being held prisoner had sufficed to end the ceasefire (for which Obama blamed Hamas, as though the Israeli unit had not been engaged in a military operation when it clashed with the Palestinians), brought calls from both the US and UN Secretary General Ban Ky Moon for the Palestinians to release him, and even awoke the Board of Deputies of British Jews to call on Prime Minister Cameron to help secure his release. (Not to help put pressure on Israel to end the war, although thankfully the Board which used to back Israel whatever it did has been fairly quiet this time).   

By the time the IDF announced that Goldin was dead, late on Saturday, the numbers of Palestinian dead, during what had been supposed to be a three day ceasefire, gad more than doubled. Another UN school had been hit, and the Israeli air force has joined the attack on Rafeah, which is sealed off by the army. Ambulances have been targeted as they tried to reach the injured, and what hospitals are left in Gaza after attack are overwhelmed by the number of casualties coming in.

It seems unclear after the bombardment whether enough bits of Goldin have been found and identified for burial next week. The peace talks that were supposed to open in Cairo could be in the same state. Netanyahu says Israel will continue till it has "achieved its objectives". Some of his supporters are not ashamed to advocate genocide.

While the Israeli prime minister may prefer to wrap his aims in coded language, it is not too difficult to discern a pattern in the way the Israeli military plays its own public, contrary to suggestions that "Bibi" had "lost it". An Israeli friend of mine with long experience and a sense if history remarked some time ago that his country had come to resemble Prussia - not so much a state with an army as an army with a state.   

 We could go back to 1982, when the shooting of Israeli ambassador Shlomo Argov in London, by the Iraqi-backed Abu Nidal group which was hostile to the PLO and Yasser Arafat, was used as an excuse for the invasion of Lebanon with the aim of destroying the PLO and its Lebanese allies. According to then Prime Minister Menachem Begin's son, his father thought he had authorised a limited croos-border operation, but Ariel Sharon had other plans.That the Israelis ended up years later with Hizbollah on its northern border does not seem to taught them anything.

Nor did the Kahane Commission's finding that Sharon was culpable for the Sabra and Shatila massacres prevent him going on to be Israeli prime minister. 

When the three Israeli teenagers were reported kidnapped, from an Israeli-controlled part of the West Bank near Hebron, the Israeli military may have known from early on that they had been killed, and it knew their kidnapping had not been ordered by Hamas; but it suited the military to keep the Israeli public in suspense, hoping the boys might be found alive, while carrying on what was reportedly a pre-planned operation, at least in part, supposedly targeting Hamas. Palestinian homes were raided, many ransacked, people were taken away, and some shot. A Palestinian boy was kidnapped and murdered by settlers in a "revenge" attack.  Tension escalated on the Gaza front and the present war started.

And despite all... Although to judge from reports the Israeli military and the government may have succeeded in large part in manipulating Israeli public opinion, and Hamas or Islamic Jihad missiles have probably helped Netanyahu rather than hindering his offensive, this might not last.

What the BBC and other Western media have been less keen to report is that some Israeli Jews and Arab citizens have defied the pressure, and attacks by right-wing thugs, to demonstrate against the war in Gaza. Protest rallies have taken place in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa. A demonstration in Galilee was joined by some kibbutzniks and Palestinian villagers. Mounted police were out last night in Tel Aviv to stop protestors rallying in Rabin Square,

A few days ago I heard that a bus was on its way to the Gaza border carrying volunteers with medical supplies, and scheduled to halt briefly at Sderot for a meeting with local people who reject the war which the IDF is supposedly waging to defend them. These are the people who never catch the eye of visiting reporters, and of course the IDF press officers do not introduce them. I don't know whether that bus will make it past the army, and be able to deliver its messages of peace and solidarity along with practical aid. But I hope so, and salute their courage for trying.

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