As reported last night here at Antiwar.com, the Israeli military is finally confirming today that British-Israeli soldier Lt. Hadar Goldin, claimed at the time by the military as “kidnapped,” died yesterday, and was never in Hamas custody.
Speculation of Lt. Goldin’s “abduction” centered on the belief that he was taken by Hamas fighters during an Israeli attack on a tunnel, though the putative “kidnappers” were actually slain in heavy Israeli bombardment that immediately followed the tunnel fight, making it probable that, whether by Israeli fire or in battle, the soldier was slain during the ensuing incident.
The Times of Israel later offered a similar assessment, in a front-page article this morning they noted that the claims Hamas would be denying a kidnapping they actually did were not credible, as Hamas normally publicizes capturing Israeli soldiers.
Faced with this and a growing number of similar reports, the Israeli military finally today announced that they ruled Lt. Goldin killed in action, and that a military rabbi, under halachic law, declared him to have “died in combat,” regardless of the specific circumstances surrounding his death.
The Israeli military, certainly privy to all the same details of the media outlets covering the story, maintained the false narrative of a kidnapping for over a day, and it was only in the face of growing coverage to the contrary that they finally admitted to his death.
The false hope this gave to his family was devastating, and his family are still clinging to the “kidnapped” story they inexplicably were offered, unwilling to accept his death.
The use of the “kidnapping” in the official narrative toward escalation yesterday also looms large in this story, leading the Times of Israel’s Avi Issacharoff to offer an assessment heretofore unprecedented for the paper.
It should be noted that Hamas really is interested in a ceasefire. This is not a cautious assessment, or an Israeli misjudgment. Hamas itself is making this clear at every opportunity. Its representatives had even agreed that Israeli forces would remain inside Gaza during the 72-hour truce — something it had firmly opposed just a few days earlier. The situation in Gaza is getting worse by the day, and with it the pressure on Hamas to stop fighting.
As for Secretary of State John Kerry’s ceasefire work: One can only praise the effort he is making, but the 72-hour truce agreement, as published, did not specifically deal with IDF activities to find and demolish the Hamas tunnels. It did allow for Israel to leave the IDF in place in Gaza for the 72 hours, but did not talk of tunnel demolition. Thus, while Israel insisted that the IDF’s work on destroying the tunnels would continue during the truce, Hamas has stressed repeatedly that it did not agree to this. The lack of clarity in the ceasefire agreement on this issue may have been a factor in everything that played out subsequently.