[News] Israel intentionally killed civilians after soldier’s capture in Gaza

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jul 30 11:16:57 EDT 2015


  Israel intentionally killed civilians after soldier’s capture in Gaza
  — Amnesty

Rania Khalek <https://electronicintifada.net/people/rania-khalek> 30 
July 2015
*https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/rania-khalek/israel-intentionally-killed-civilians-after-soldiers-capture-gaza-amnesty*

A joint investigation <https://blackfriday.amnesty.org> by Amnesty 
International and Forensic Architecture found “strong evidence” that the 
Israeli army carried out war crimes in an attempt to kill an Israeli 
soldier captured in Gaza last summer and as revenge for his capture.

On 1 August 2014 — a day Palestinians have come to know as Black Friday 
— the Israeli army initiated its deadliest act of butchery during its 
51-day war on Gaza, bombing men, women and children in an effort to kill 
one of its own soldiers in Rafah 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/rafah>, Gaza’s southernmost city.

When the dust settled, anywhere between 135 to more than 200 Palestinian 
civilians were dead, including 75 children. With the morgues full to 
capacity, medical workers were forced to store the corpses of small 
children in vegetable refrigerators 
<http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/gazans-forced-keep-dead-bodies-vegetable-refrigerators-1006544969> and 
ice cream coolers 
<http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2714575/Humanitarian-crisis-Gaza-half-million-homeless.html> 
to accommodate the high volume of dead bodies, producing some of the 
most haunting images produced by the 51-day offensive.

Using eyewitness testimony, satellite images and multimedia 
documentation of the carnage, researchers at Forensic Architecture, 
based in Goldsmiths, University of London, reconstructed the Black 
Friday attacks. This allowed them to determine that the Israeli attacks 
were aimed at locations believed to be harboring the soldier Hadar 
Goldin, leading Amnesty to conclude that the Israelis were trying to 
kill Goldin with no regard for the harm inflicted on civilians.

“The ferocity of the attack on Rafah shows the extreme measures Israeli 
forces were prepared to take to prevent the capture alive of one soldier 
— scores of Palestinian civilian lives were sacrificed for this single 
aim,” said Philip Luther, director of Amnesty’s Middle East and North 
Africa program.

Based on statements made by Israeli officials and soldiers, Amnesty also 
concluded that the attacks were partly motivated by vengeance for the 
capture.


    Hannibal

Just before a temporary three-day humanitarian ceasefire negotiated by 
Egypt and the United States went into effect on the morning of 1 August, 
a unit of soldiers from the Israeli army’s Givati Brigade 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/givati-brigade> conducted a tunnel 
incursion southeast of Rafah on the order of  its commander Ofer Winter 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/ofer-winter>, an ultranationalist 
religious Zionist who exhorted his troops to holy war 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/israeli-commander-declares-holy-war-palestinians> in 
Gaza.

It was there that they encountered a team of Palestinian resistance 
fighters and exchanged gunfire. Two Israeli soldiers and one Palestinian 
were killed in the ensuing firefight, while another, Goldin, went 
missing. It was later determined that Goldin died in the gunfight, but 
in the immediate aftermath the Israeli army operated under the 
assumption that he had been captured alive, putting into motion a 
bloodbath of epic proportions.

Goldin’s alleged capture led to the implementation of the Hannibal 
Directive <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/hannibal-directive>, a 
classified Israeli military protocol authorizing firepower to prevent a 
captured Israeli soldier from being taken alive, even if it means 
killing the soldier and hundreds of civilians in the process.

Hannibal was crafted in the 1980s to deny Palestinian or other Arab 
resistance groups a bargaining chip down the line while relieving 
Israeli leaders of the political fallout from having to make concessions 
— such as prisoner swaps — to secure a captive’s release.

On Ofer Winter’s command, Israel unleashed a torrential downpour of at 
least 2,000 bombs, missiles and shells on 1 August alone. Half of the 
explosives were fired within the initial three hours of the operation on 
an area bustling with civilians who had just returned home for what they 
believed was a ceasefire.


    No escape

“I would not be exaggerating if I told you that around 50 to 60 shells 
were falling every minute,” Rafah resident Saleh Abu Mohsen told Amnesty.

“People were running away from their homes in terror. It was a scene 
reminiscent of 1948 [the 1948 ethnic cleansing of more than 750,000 
Palestinians, known as the Nakba], which we had only seen on TV,” he 
said, adding, “People were barefoot, women were running with their heads 
uncovered, it was a very difficult scene.”

The carpet-bombing began just before 10am, sending Palestinians bolting 
for safety in all directions, but to no avail. Israeli missiles 
decapitated fleeing civilians as they ran in the streets and shredded 
vehicles attempting to evacuate the wounded to Rafah’s al-Najjar Hospital.

The most lethal Black Friday attack occurred in Rafah’s eastern 
al-Tannur neighborhood, where the Israeli army dropped two one-ton 
MK-84/GBU-31 bunker buster bombs designed to penetrate underground 
command centers onto a single-story building, leaving a massive crater 
and a wide radius of destruction.

Though the building was empty, at least 18 people were killed in the 
streets as they dodged an assortment of artillery, helicopter and drone 
fire hunting them. It was the single deadliest attack on Black Friday.

Among those killed in the maelstrom was Mohammed Anas Mohammed Arafat, 
just 55-days-old. The infant was impaled while in his mother’s arms as 
she fled their home with her four children.

“He died in my hands… My son got hit in the head and was injured in the 
face and his face split open,” Shirin Jamal Arafat told Amnesty.

The attack appeared to be aimed at a tunnel shaft inside the building, 
where the Israeli army believed Goldin was possibly being held.


    Killing the wounded

In the earliest hours of the attack, “the Israeli army appeared to fire 
at moving vehicles without distinction,” particularly ambulances moving 
toward al-Najjar Hospital. The Israeli attacks on ambulances were likely 
an attempt to prevent Goldin’s captors from getting him medical treatment.

Residents of the Musabbeh neighborhood gathered at the nearby mosque in 
the afternoon, following Israeli orders to evacuate. An eyewitness told 
Amnesty that he watched from his rooftop as a drone missile struck 
Suleiman Muhawish al-Hashash and his daughter, who were passing by the 
mosque on foot looking for a ride to safety.

When people inside the mosque came out to help, a second missile 
attacked. “Then a third missile hit the door of the mosque, injuring 
Youssef Ahmed Sheikh al-Eid, Dua Sheikh al-Eid and her three children, 
all under four years of age,” the witness told Amnesty.

Three ambulances were dispatched to the scene. The first to arrive 
scooped up the wounded but was struck by a missile fired from a drone.

The missile caused an explosion that burned all eight people — including 
three medics, an elderly man, a woman and three children — before the 
ambulance could make it back to the hospital.

Jaber Darabih, a paramedic from the second ambulance to arrive, which 
was also attacked, later learned that his son, a volunteer medic named 
Youssef Darabih, was among the dead. Their bodies were so badly torched, 
they “had no parts — no legs, no hands … So we took them out and put 
them inside plastic bags and brought them to the Abu Youssef al-Najjar 
Hospital and put them in the refrigerator,” Jaber told Amnesty.

Those who made it to the hospital alive on Black Friday poured into 
al-Najjar Hospital, the medical facility nearest to the site of Goldin’s 
capture.

The hospital was completely overwhelmed and unequipped to deal with the 
severity and volume of injuries. To make matters worse, the Israeli 
military repeatedly attacked in and around the hospital, blowing out 
windows, injuring medical staff and patients and ultimately forcing a 
frantic evacuation that sent patients fleeing with intravenous drips in 
hand.

Ashraf Hijazi, a doctor at the hospital, recalled to Amnesty that 
“some had plaster casts, with drips in their chests and stomachs. I saw 
a young boy in a plaster cast crawling trying to flee by dragging 
himself along.”

Amnesty concluded that the Israeli army was attacking the hospital just 
in case Goldin had been wounded and his captors were seeking medical help.


    “Gloves off” policy

The Black Friday attacks, though lessening in ferocity, carried over 
into 2 August.

Rasha Abu Taha, who was pregnant during the attack, told Amnesty that on 
Black Friday over 25 family members had gathered at her in-laws’ house 
in the al-Shabora refugee camp. The following day, after an intense 
night of attacks, Abu Taha was preparing lunch as the children played 
and snapped photos when “suddenly the ceiling fell on us.”

Abu Taha rushed to rescue all the children she could, including her 
daughter, nephew and two nieces. Her sons, 12-year-old Mohammed and 
10-year-old Youssef, and her nephew, 8-month-old Rizq, were killed.

“They brought Youssef out on a blanket without a head nor arms, only the 
lower part of his body,” Abu Taha told Amnesty.

While the Israeli army claims to have fired on “suspicious” persons and 
structures containing tunnel shafts that were possibly harboring Goldin, 
Amnesty concluded that in some cases, the motive was revenge (revenge 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/charlotte-silver/israeli-army-commander-recorded-ordering-attack-gaza-clinic> 
as a motive was not uncommon last summer).

“Public statements by Israeli army commanders and soldiers after the 
conflict provide compelling reasons to conclude that some attacks that 
killed civilians and destroyed homes and property were intentionally 
carried out and motivated by a desire for revenge — to teach a lesson 
to, or punish, the population of Rafah for the capture of Lieutenant 
Goldin,” Amnesty found.

Revenge appears to have motivated the ferocious destruction of the Tabet 
Zare neighborhood, where an Israeli ground operation plowed through 
buildings with D-9 bulldozers and sprayed homes with Israeli tank fire.

“The motto guiding lots of people was, ‘let’s show them’,” an Israeli 
officer told Breaking the Silence, an organization of Israeli soldiers 
who have served in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

Other soldiers declared to the media that their intention during the 
operation was “to settle accounts” or to “extract a price,” according to 
Amnesty.

Givati Brigade commander Ofer Winter bragged 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/rania-khalek/israeli-officer-admits-ordering-lethal-strike-own-soldier-during-gaza-massacre> 
to one of Israel’s most widely circulated newspapers, “We shredded 
them,” adding, ”Anyone who abducts should know that he will pay a price.”

“They simply messed with the wrong brigade,” Winter declared. 
apparently with pride.

The fact that the implementation of the Hannibal Directive continued 
even after a death certificate was issued for Hadar Goldin on 2 August 
suggests revenge was indeed a guiding principle in Rafah.

“Under the veil of the Hannibal Directive, the Israeli army enacted a 
‘gloves off’ policy,” concluded Amnesty, “whereby it struck general 
targets from its ‘target banks’ — a continuously updated list of targets 
prepared by the military intelligence — that were not previously 
authorized because they were determined to involve too high levels of 
collateral damage.”

Amnesty goes on to note that those responsible for these atrocities are 
unlikely to face repercussions for what amount to war crimes due to “the 
pervasive climate of impunity that has existed for decades” in regard to 
Israeli brutality.

Indeed, only three Israeli soldiers who participated in the 51-day 
slaughter have been indicted by Israeli military prosecutors for alleged 
looting during the ground invasion. Meanwhile, an Israeli military 
investigation ruled that the overwhelming firepower unleashed on Black 
Friday day was proportionate 
<http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.651743>.

-- 
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