The Friday incident which spelled an end to the 72-hour Gaza ceasefire just 75 minutes in continues to be officially revised by the Israeli military, with yet more questions emerging about what actually happened.
The Israeli military has now backed off claims of a Hamas “suicide bomber,” and say the Hamas “attacker” simply had a rifle and kept shooting until he was killed. The Hamas gunman was inside a Hamas tunnel which Israel was attacking, even though the ceasefire gave them no specific permission to attack tunnels.
The putative kidnapping and apparent death of British-Israeli soldier Lt. Hadar Goldin is also continue to take shape, with Israel conceding that they put the “Hannibal protocol” in effect.
The protocol, a secret Israeli directive dating back to 1986, orders the military to dramatically escalate attacks in the vicinity of any kidnapping, even if it means putting the kidnapped soldier at direct risk of being killed.
After reports of Goldin’s capture, Israel pounded the residential neighborhoods nearby, killing scores of people, mostly civilians but also including two Hamas fighters who were supposedly his abductors.
Unspoken in all of this is if Goldin was actually killed “in combat,” which is the official rabbinical declaration, or if he was briefly taken captive and killed, along with his captors, in an Israeli salvo. The official statements make no mention of this any longer, despite no body ever being recovered, and the Israeli military seems loathe to dig too deep on the question of how he actually died.
Israel’s use of this tactic at the expense of civilian deaths, as well as the likely death of the soldier, has been a matter of no small discussion in Israel. During the 2009 invasion of the Gaza Strip, a soldier was wounded in house-to-house fighting, and even though he had yet to be captured the military ordered the house he was in shelled to “prevent his capture.” Officially, he too was labeled killed by Hamas gunfire.