The situation in the city of Rafah in southern Gaza at mid-afternoon Friday (U.S. CST; 11 p.m Gaza time), is both chaotic and horrifying. This posting will be updated as further reports become available.
Amy Goodman’s current report on Democracy Now is broadcast from Washington and Gaza. This edition of Democracy Now, posted early Friday afternoon, runs for roughly ten minutes. The link to the program is below.
It includes an on the scene set of interviews with two Palestinians, Raji Sourani, award-winning human rights lawyer, and Gaza City-based Palestinian journalist Mohammed Omer, award-winning Palestinian journalist who is originally from Rafah.
The New York Times identified the missing Israeli as Second Lt. Hadar Goldin, a 23-year-old officer in an infantry brigade. He was first reported by the IDF as captured. But on Saturday, Hamas said it had no knowledge of what has happened to Lt. Goldin.
Amy Goodman’s interviews provides the scene from the Palestinian side. To view this up to the minute video report with a transcript, click here
Lt. Goldin’s disappearance provides Israel with its latest justification for continuing its all-out military assault on a largely civilian Gaza population, as it looks for Lt. Goldin, dead or alive.
The Times‘ story began the Israeli narrative for this latest rationale for the third assault on Gaza since 2006 with this emotional reaction from Lt. Goldin’s father, Simcha Goldin:
“Speaking to journalists outside his home in Kfar Saba, Israel, [Goldin] said he was confident that Israel’s military forces would ‘not stop under any circumstances until they have turned over every stone in Gaza and have brought Hadar home healthy and whole.'”
Israel always launches its military assaults with whatever rationale is currently available. This third assault in six years has thus far killed 1600 Palestinians, mostly civilians, women and children.
The young Palestinian girl in the picture above is Hajar Muharram, five, shown sitting in a classroom where her family of seven now lives. Their new home is a UN school, in Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip.
The picture was taken during this current assault by Lefteris Pitarakis, of the Associated Press. It ran in the Guardian along with an editorial “on the killing of children in Gaza.”
The 1600 Palestinian death total since the current assault began, (63 Israeli soldiers have been killed in the same period) exceeds the death toll of the first Israeli assault on Gaza in 2008-09, when 1450 Palestinians were killed. That was the infamous assault Israel halted in time to avoid the Obama inauguration.
This current 2014 assault was launched, Israel claimed, to “halt rockets from Gaza into Israel”, rockets that were largely ineffective. When the ground war began, Israel’s official rationale shifted to a “search and destroy” mission to destroy Gaza’s underground tunnels.
We may assume that the latest rationale for continuing this assault against the Gaza civilian population and rejecting any further efforts at a cease fire, will involve the goal of finding Lt Goldin.
Lt. Goldin was captured prior to the cease fire, scheduled to begin Friday morning (Gaza time) when Hamas militants encountered a tunnel destruction unit in southern Gaza. Israel disagrees, claiming that the capture came after the cease fire began.
Lt. Goldin disappeared in the tunnel Israel was attempting to destroy. Hamas has denied any involvement in his disappearance.
Dead or alive, and until more details emerge about Lt. Goldin, Israel is sticking to its own “captured narrative”.
A missing IDF officer offers Israel its most compelling rationale with which to heat up its population, stir up its political, media and financial “base” in the U.S, and continue its recurring assaults on Gaza.
Should world public opinion, expressed in public demonstrations (like the one in London shown here with 45,000 filling the streets) finally force a “cease fire”, and perhaps more importantly, if IDF fatalities exceed a “reasonable” limit, Israel will withdraw from this round in Gaza.
Until next time, of course. And there will be a next time because the real reason for Israel’s constant attacks on Gaza, and its increasingly tight control over the West Bank, is to reach its long range goal.
Rashid Khalidi, Middle East scholar at Columbia University, and in earlier days, a teaching colleague and friend of then Illinois State Senator Barack Obama, has laid out Israel’s long range purpose in his current essay in the New Yorker:
“Three days after the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu launched the current war in Gaza, he held a press conference in Tel Aviv during which he said, in Hebrew, according to the Times of Israel,
“I think the Israeli people understand now what I always say: that there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan.”
It’s worth listening carefully when Netanyahu speaks to the Israeli people. What is going on in Palestine today is not really about Hamas. It is not about rockets. It is not about “human shields” or terrorism or tunnels. It is about Israel’s permanent control over Palestinian land and Palestinian lives.
That is what Netanyahu is really saying, and that is what he now admits he has “always” talked about. It is about an unswerving, decades-long Israeli policy of denying Palestine self-determination, freedom, and sovereignty.
What Israel is doing in Gaza now is collective punishment. It is punishment for Gaza’s refusal to be a docile ghetto.”
So be prepared to hear whatever future rationale Benjamin Netanyahu uses to continue his military assaults on Gaza. Look behind the rational curtain and remember what Netanyahu told his Israeli public three days after this current assault.
Israel demands control over all the land from the Jordan River to the Sea. And never forget, he will do anything he wants to maintain that control.
What if other nations join those five Latin American countries and withdraw their ambassadors to Israel? Why should he care?
Israel has relinquished its status as a moral nation. It knows it has the U.S. government in his back pocket. It knows the moral leadership of the U.S. still debates taking even mild actions of protest against Israel.
As long as that combination of American milk toast religion and political cowardice, continues, young Palestinian girls, like the one pictured above, must fear for their lives.
The picture of London supporters of the Palestinians is a Getty photo which ran in the Independent.