The New York Times reports: A newly agreed cease-fire in the Gaza conflict collapsed hours after it came into effect on Friday with the Israeli military announcing that a soldier appeared to have been captured by Palestinian militants who emerged from a tunnel near Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.
Gaza health officials said that 35 Palestinians were killed and more than 100 wounded as Israeli forces bombarded the area. Palestinian witnesses said by telephone that Israeli tank shells hit eastern Rafah as residents returned to inspect homes they had evacuated.
Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a spokesman for the Israeli military, said that government forces were moving to destroy a tunnel, as the terms of the cease-fire allowed for, when several militants came out of the ground.
Colonel Lerner said the militants included at least one suicide attacker, that there was an exchange of fire on the ground and that initial indications were that a soldier was apparently dragged back into the tunnel. He was unable to offer details about the soldier’s condition or whether anyone was killed in the attack. He said the episode began at around 9.30 a.m., roughly 90 minutes after the 72-hour cease-fire came into effect.
“The cease-fire is over,” Colonel Lerner said, adding that the military was carrying out “extensive operations on the ground” to try to locate the missing soldier. He did not identify the soldier but said that his family had been notified.
Moussa Abu Marzouk, a senior official in the political wing of Hamas, the Islamic group that dominates Gaza, told the Turkish news media that Hamas had taken a soldier captive but claimed the event took place before the cease-fire began. [Continue reading…]
Channel 10: Aim of IDF now is to subvert capture of soldier "at any price"
— Chemi Shalev (@ChemiShalev) August 1, 2014
To “subvert capture of soldier” means to implement what the IDF calls the “Hannibal Procedure.”
In an interview in 1999, IDF Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz explained: “an abducted soldier, in contrast to a soldier who has been killed, is a national problem.”
IDF: Name of captured soldier is Hadar Goldin, 23, a second lieutenant in the Givati Brigade
— Chemi Shalev (@ChemiShalev) August 1, 2014
If the second lieutenant is still alive, Israel now has a national problem.
The IDF’s response appears to be to try and kill everyone in the vicinity of Goldin’s capture — even if that means killing the soldier himself.
— Omar Ghraieb (@Omar_Gaza) August 1, 2014
Officially, the IDF says that a soldier cannot be intentionally killed, but Haaretz reported in 2011:
While the protocol permits risking the life of the abducted soldier, a kind of “Oral Law” that goes further has developed, which holds that a dead soldier is better than an abducted one. It is supported by many commanders, even at the brigade or division level, who call for using all available means to foil an abduction, including even firing a tank shell or carrying out an aerial strike against the vehicle carrying the abductors and the kidnapped soldier.
That the capture of a soldier creates a national problem is supposedly a reflection of the degree to which Israel sees each soldier’s life having inestimable value, but that would seem to conflict with the idea that a dead soldier is better than a captured one.
Given the extent to which Israel demonizes its enemies, there seems to be another factor at play. That is, while Israel asserts its “right” to imprison the whole population of Gaza, for Hamas to take a prisoner results in an intolerable disruption of the balance of power.
One way or another, Israel is then forced to negotiate with an adversary which it otherwise views with disgust and contempt.
Negotiation and war itself demands that the enemy be viewed with respect, yet it wounds Israel’s pride if it has to talk to terrorists.
Once again, Israel seems to be a victim of its own arrogance. It wants a ceasefire in which it can continue military operations — destroying tunnels. It wants a ceasefire in which its troops do not withdraw from Gaza.
In other words, Israel demands the right to make all the rules and throws deadly and explosive tantrums when it fails to get its way.
In The Art of War, Sun Tzu wrote:
There is no instance of a nation benefiting from prolonged warfare.
Israel has either been at war or on a war footing throughout its existence. Indeed, many Israelis seem to believe that their willingness to fight is the only thing that ensures the Jewish state’s survival. They regard this as their strength when on the contrary, it suggests a foundational weakness.