U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

Re: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

Postby admin » Mon Jan 29, 2024 3:23 am

Part 2 of 2

Steve Skrovan: We've been speaking with Josh Paul. We will link to his work at ralphnaderradiohour.com. Up next, we'll uncover the vast espionage network that aims to stifle dissent on college campuses. But first, let's check with our corporate crime reporter, Russell Mokhiber.

Russell Mokhiber: From the National Press Building in Washington D.C., this is your Corporate Crime Reporter Morning Minute for Friday, January 19, 2024, I'm Russell Mokhiber. eBay will pay a $3 million criminal penalty for an August 2019 harassment and intimidation campaign targeting a Massachusetts couple in retaliation for their online coverage of eBay and for its obstruction of the investigation that followed. eBay executed a harassment campaign intended to intimidate the victims and to change the content of the newsletter’s reporting. The campaign included sending anonymous and disturbing deliveries to the couple's home, including a book on surviving the death of a spouse, a bloody pig mask, a fetal pig, a funeral wreath and live insects, sending private Twitter messages and public tweets criticizing the newsletter’s content, and threatening to visit the victims in Natick, Massachusetts. For the Corporate Crime Reporter, I'm Russell Mokhiber.

Steve Skrovan: Thank you, Russel. Welcome back to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour. I'm Steve Skrovan, along with David Feldman, Hannah, Ralph. Our government has spent a lot of time, money, and energy resisting Russian and Chinese spy operations. But what do we do when the spying is being done by our ally, in this case, Israel? David?

David Feldman: James Bamford is a best-selling author, Emmy-nominated filmmaker for PBS, award-winning investigative producer for ABC News, and winner of the National Magazine Award for Reporting for his writing in Rolling Stone on the war in Iraq. He is the author of the first book ever written on the National Security Agency (NSA), as well as other books, including Spy Fail: Foreign Spies, Moles, Saboteurs, and the Collapse of America's Counterintelligence. Welcome to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour, James Bamford.

James Bamford: Great. Thanks for having me on your show. Appreciate it.

Ralph Nader: James Bamford, for years, has been one of the most proficient, accurate, important investigative reporters and authors in our country. He wrote the first full-length report on the secretive, gigantic national security agency known as the NSA, which doesn't even have a congressional charter. He has had a sterling record of accuracy, and he has published two articles recently in The Nation magazine. One of them is titled Israel's War on American Student Activists.

For years, the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC), a little-known organization with links to Israeli intelligence, has used student informants to spy on pro-Palestinian campus groups. And in the second article [Who Is Funding Canary Mission? Inside the Doxxing Operation Targeting Anti-Zionist Students and Professors: Americans who give money to Canary Mission are potentially committing a serious crime by acting as agents of a foreign power.], he goes into more detail on how organized this is, who's paying for it in the U.S., and its connections to similar groups in Israel. What's your thesis here?

James Bamford: The thesis is that Israel has been doing a lot of spying, covert operations, troll farms, doxing, all kinds of things in the United States for not just years, but decades. And the FBI (The Federal Bureau of Investigation) never does anything about it. They put a secret agent in the Trump campaign. The FBI went after Russia, but it never went after Israel.

One of the key themes of the book I wrote, Spy Fail, was the fact that these spies come over here, especially from Israel, and nothing happens. The FBI, with regard to Israel, turns its eyes away, and nobody gets arrested, and it just goes on and on.

Ralph Nader: Do you think some of these groups should be filing under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of the U.S. Treasury? Tell us about that.

James Bamford: Some of these groups should be arrested for being agents of a foreign government. If you're an American and you're contributing money and support to a clandestine foreign operation, a clandestine foreign agency of a foreign government, that's pretty much the definition of being an agent of a foreign government.

So the FBI has gone after the Senator Bob Menendez from New Jersey for his connections to Qatar and Egypt and it went after the mayor of New York for foreign connections, but it's never gone after anybody for foreign connections to Israel. And that's where really most of these foreign connections are.

Ralph Nader: Tell us what happened at Harvard University when the Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee issued a public letter with students signing on, as students have done throughout the years on civil rights, pro-peace, closing the Vietnam War, Iraq War, and so forth. But this time, something different happened. Can you explain?

James Bamford: Yeah. This time, there was huge action against them. There was a doxing truck that showed up at Harvard, a truck that had electric signs on the sides of the truck that listed the names and addresses and detailed information about the signers of letter, and the truck then went to the houses of some of these people. The whole idea was to dox them, to intimidate them, to expose who they were, and cause havoc in their lives. That was one of the things the FBI did.

The other thing is that there's a very secretive group or very secretive organization known as the Canary Mission. It is an organization that creates a blacklist that goes all over the internet. It shows people's names, pictures, and bio information, and then those people are basically derided for what they've said against Israel. They're called anti-Semitic and different things like that. It’s done to discourage these people from criticizing what's happening in Israel, particularly the war in Gaza. These are acts to intimidate the people who signed the public letter.

Ralph Nader: And this is a very well-funded collection of organizations. Can you go into that? In your article, one of the participants revealed that the budget for one year was $9 million.

James Bamford: It gets a lot of money, and its money comes from U.S. supporters. Canary Mission, for example, contributors are secret, largely. They don't have to declare who they are. Because of a mistake on a tax form at one point, it was discovered that one of the major contributors was Sanford Diller, a very wealthy Californian, who donated $100,000 to the front organization for the Canary Mission in Israel.

The way it worked is that he would donate it to a Jewish foundation. The foundation would then donate the money to another, basically a front company in New York. That way he’d get a tax deduction on it, but if the money went right to Israel, he wouldn't get any tax deduction. So they sent it through a front company, the Central Fund for Israel in New York.

From there it went to a front in Israel, which turned out to be just an old, padlocked building, not a real organization. Then it ran someplace else in Israel. It was tracked down to a rabbi who was in charge of it at one point. So, this mysterious money went to front companies and it was hidden. The U.S. government has plenty of power to stop these kinds of things, but it doesn't. It allows it to go on and on.

So you get people that are at Harvard or any other school, and it doesn't even have to be a school, and it doesn't have to be a student. There are professors and people working for companies who get put on this blacklist, the Canary Mission list, and their job opportunities are extremely limited because if anybody goes for a job and their potential employer looks on the internet, one of the first things they'll see is that the person’s name is on this blacklist, where they're called a variety of names, for doing something that's basically honorable.

Ralph Nader: Tell us about the experience that Tony Kleinfeld [James Anthony Kleinfeld] reported on in 2016, in an expose by Al Jazeera.

James Bamford: Tony Kleinfeld was Jewish. He was British, and he worked for the Al Jazeera television network as an undercover reporter. He was sent to Washington to do an undercover report on the influence of the pro-Israeli lobby in the Washington area, and he uncovered a great deal of information because he was posing as a pro-Israeli activist.

One of the things he discovered was that there was an organization called Israel on Campus, which is a coalition. It's a very secretive organization in Washington. It's a high-tech organization that spies on students all over the country. They use a lot of technology. They have human spies that pass on information about what's going on, on campuses. And they compile it all.

When Tony Kleinfeld interviewed the head of the organization and other top officials there, they told him that they send it off to Israeli intelligence and then they get instructions from Israeli intelligence. Again, all this makes them an agent of a foreign power. If you're passing information, especially confidentially, to a foreign government, and you're taking instructions from them, that's the essence of being an agent.

Ralph Nader: And Kleinfeld's exchanges were on videotapes. This isn't hearsay.

James Bamford: Yeah, anybody could go to YouTube and watch the video and watch what these people are saying in their own words to Kleinfeld. Another person he interviewed was, a woman who was a former student, University of California, I think Davis, who went to work for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), where she was a secret recruiter for AIPAC. After that she got hired by the Israeli embassy. She's fully American. She's just an American, and they used her as a spy, basically, to spy on what was going on on college campuses. Working from the embassy, she would use phony names and try to get information on people on different campuses across the country. She would take that information, pass it on to her boss at the embassy, and that would go to Israeli intelligence. Then she would get feedback from Israeli intelligence.

American pro-Israel lobby girds for Al Jazeera exposé: Jewish leaders reportedly claim Qatar promised to block TV series, but Qatari FM says there will be ‘no interference’ in media issues
by Sue Surkes
8 February 2018, 12:35 pm

American Jewish leaders are bracing themselves for a documentary series made by the Al Jazeera network expected to claim that pro-Israel groups in Washington are helping Israel to identify and discredit US citizens whom they see as anti-Israel, including supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.

Senior pro-Israel activists in the US capital were surprised last week to receive a request by the network for comment on the documentary after having received what they claimed was a promise from the Qatari authorities that the series would not see the light of day, the Haaretz daily reported Thursday.

“Al Jazeera is in the final stages of preparing a documentary concerning the role of pro-Israel advocacy groups in the United States,” the network said in an email dated February 2 and obtained by the Washington Examiner. “The documentary will investigate how such groups secure support for Israel in Congress and how they have been drawn into Israel’s covert campaign to defeat BDS, the movement to boycott, divest and impose sanctions on Israel.”

The email added that the network had “uncovered evidence, which suggests that this campaign may well involve these groups working with Israel to collect intelligence on and discredit US citizens who support BDS, as well as others who are perceived as challenging Israel.”

It gave the Jewish organizations until February 22 to respond.

The Jewish magazine Tablet reported in January of last year that the Israeli embassy in the US; the nongovernmental organization The Israel Project; and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a think tank, were likely to be targeted in the program.

The organizations were caught off guard in the wake of a promise said to have been conveyed to them from the Qatari authorities in October — and confirmed to Haaretz by five sources from various Jewish organizations — that Doha would ensure the documentary was not aired. That promise followed a series of high-level talks between Qataris and senior pro-Israel activists in Washington — part of an ongoing Qatari push to improve relations with the US Jewish community following last year’s move by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states to sever diplomatic ties with Doha.

The four-part series about the pro-Israel lobby in the US capital is based on the work of an Al Jazeera investigative reporter who was sent to Washington in 2016 and worked under the assumed name Antoine Kleinfeld, according to Tablet.

In October, an Al Jazeera editor acknowledged planting the undercover reporter inside pro-Israel organizations in Washington, DC.

Al Jazeera planted undercover reporter in US pro-Israel groups: Qatar-owned news network to air documentary showing how Israel lobby works in America, following vindication by UK watchdog over British expose
by JTA
The Times of Israel
10 October 2017, 5:25 pm

An al-Jazeera editor acknowledged planting an undercover reporter inside pro-Israel organizations last year in Washington, DC.

Clayton Swisher, the Qatar-owned news network’s head of investigative reporting, made the revelation Monday in an interview on al-Jazeera’s main Arabic channel. He said a documentary will be aired based on the reporter’s work.

Earlier in the day, the United Kingdom official media watchdog rejected complaints against an earlier al-Jazeera documentary that exposed an Israeli embassy official attempting to influence British lawmakers. Ofcom said the network’s reporting, which led to the resignation of Shai Masot, who was filmed plotting to “take down” British lawmakers seen as unfriendly to Israel, was not anti-Semitic.

Rather, Ofcom concluded, the program was “a serious investigative documentary which explored the actions of the Israeli Embassy and, in particular, its then Senior Political Officer Shai Masot and his links to several political organizations that promote a pro-Israel viewpoint.”

Following the announcement, Swisher said that at the same time al-Jazeera had an undercover reporter in Britain, it also had one in Washington, DC. He said the network held off on broadcasting its reporting from the US capital until hearing Ofcom’s verdict.

“With this UK verdict and vindication past us, we can soon reveal how the Israel lobby in America works through the eyes of an undercover reporter,” he told The Intercept. “I hear the US is having problems with foreign interference these days, so I see no reason why the US establishment won’t take our findings in America as seriously as the British did, unless of course Israel is somehow off limits from that debate.”

Since al-Jazeera began airing its UK investigation, a number of pro-Israel organizations have voiced suspicions that they were infiltrated by an undercover reporter from the network. In January, a Tablet article named the reporter as James Anthony Kleinfeld, a British citizen active in British pro-Palestinian groups.

Al-Jazeera has yet to comment on the reporter’s identity.

Israel in August took steps toward revoking al-Jazeera’s press credentials, but subsequently backed down. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates severed diplomatic relations and travel with Qatar over its alleged support for terrorism and ties with Iran. They demanded the closure of al-Jazeera.

The reporter, whose real name is James Anthony Kleinfeld and who was described by Tablet as a pro-Palestinian filmmaker, obtained work at several pro-Israel organizations, interviewed dozens of Jewish pro-Israel activists, won access to donors, hosted minor officials from the Israeli embassy at his home, and shot dozens of hours of video. The reporter left Washington suddenly in January 2017 and has not been heard from since.

“Last summer, a spritely presence enlivened the small and often dull circles of Washington’s Israel-advocacy community,” Tablet reported. “A young man named Antoine Kleinfeld arrived from Oxford, where he was a student. He spoke with a tony North London accent and dressed crisply. He was fluent in six languages, including Yiddish and Hebrew, and regaled his new friends with stories about his hobby, international hitchhiking, which had taken him, he said, to 80 countries the world over.

“It was precisely the sort of pastime, costly and eccentric, for which the British upper classes are known, and Kleinfeld, true to form, seemed the perfect gentleman, throwing parties in his lavish apartment and ingratiating himself by sending thoughtful notes and text messages to everyone he met. Over several months, between June of 2016 and January of this year, he cultivated a relationship with several pro-Israel organizations in D.C., becoming one of the town’s best-liked Zionist activists.”

Qatar’s image-building campaign

Last August, the Qataris hired Nick Muzin, an Orthodox Jew, to help improve their image among Jewish leaders in Washington, Haaretz reported.

Muzin, a former senior adviser to conservative Republican senators Ted Cruz and Tim Scott, organized meetings between the Qataris and influential Jewish leaders, especially from the pro-settler Jewish right-wing.

Some of those meetings took place in Doha, and others in New York when the Qatari emir was in town for United Nations business.

In recent months, the Qataris have been courting the Donald Trump administration intensively. Last month, the US president even thanked Qatar’s ruler for “action to counter terrorism and extremism in all forms.”

During their discussions with the Jewish leaders, the Qataris reportedly reassured the pro-Israel activists that they did not support Hamas, the terror organization in control of the Gaza Strip, and were coordinating efforts to rehabilitate the enclave with Israel.

The complaints raised by the Jewish leaders about Al Jazeera’s portrayal of Israel intensified after the network announced its intention in October to run the series about the pro-Israel lobby in Washington. The leaders accused Al Jazeera of anti-Semitism and of running a secret spy operation on American soil.

Noah Pollack, executive director of the Committee for Israel, a lobbying group, reportedly told Muzin that Qatar’s image would suffer massive damage if the series was aired. Muzin passed the message on and replied that his masters would ensure the program would not be broadcast, Haaretz reported. The Qataris reportedly did not put the promise into writing.

The Qatari image-building campaign continued at full steam, with Jewish public figures such as the lawyer Alan Dershowitz and Zionist Organization of America president Morton Klein being flown to Doha.

It was Klein who just some six months ago called for Qatar Airways to be banned from landing in US airports because of its support for Hamas.

The Jewish organizations thought the situation was under control until last week when several of them received the email from Al Jazeera, the Haaretz report said.

Muzin, according to the report, told them that there had been a misunderstanding and that the Qatari authorities were still intent on keeping their promise.

But last week, Qatar’s foreign minister reportedly said in Washington that Qatari law forbade the authorities from interfering in media affairs.

Responding to a Haaretz reporter’s question about the ostensible promise that the documentary would not be screened, al-Thani said, “Qatar’s law prohibits the government from intervening in the media. If someone has a claim about Al Jazeera, he should turn to the media regulations organizations.”

In a statement quoted by the Washington Examiner, Noah Pollack said, “Let’s not mince words about what this was — a well-funded, professional espionage operation carried out by Qatar on American soil.

“Its purpose is to cast American Jews engaged in perfectly normal political activity as secret conspirators with the Israeli government, an old anti-Semitic trope. Infiltrating American political organizations using fake names and hidden cameras may sound legitimate in Doha, but I suspect Americans, and the current administration, will take a very different view of this disgraceful behavior.”

Last year, the UK’s official media watchdog, Ofcom, rejected a complaint against an earlier Al Jazeera documentary that exposed an Israeli embassy official attempting to influence British lawmakers. Ofcom said the network’s reporting, which led to the resignation of Shai Masot, who was filmed plotting to “take down” British lawmakers seen as unfriendly to Israel, was not anti-Semitic.

Rather, Ofcom concluded, the program was “a serious investigative documentary which explored the actions of the Israeli Embassy and, in particular, its then Senior Political Officer Shai Masot and his links to several political organizations that promote a pro-Israel viewpoint.”

Ralph Nader: What is ICC and its war room-like command center?

James Bamford: The ICC is the Israel on Campus Coalition. It's a war room set up to surveil students all over the country. I don't mean by placing hidden microphones, but by reading everything that's online, all the comments, every email, the open emails, and so forth. Whether they're doing anything clandestinely in terms of accessing data, I don't know. But they're picking up all the information, analyzing it and passing it on to Israel.

Ralph Nader: You say that they monitor online conversations in real-time from more than 650 million social media sources, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, and other online communities. And this has grown with such a large budget that they paid over $1 million to what you called "a high-powered Washington political consulting firm, FPI (Foreign Portfolio Investment), to promote social media posts attacking students who supported Palestinian rights." Some of this information you say in your article "flows to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)." The ADL is not supposed to be involved in such matters. What's the story here?

James Bamford: ADL has been involved in a lot of such matters. It has a record of being arrested for espionage, been accused, and charged, basically, with using spies in the United States, using undercover people to pick up information. There was a case in California in the ‘90s where that happened. It's actually a topic I'm currently writing about. Yeah. So it's not surprising that the Israeli on Campus Coalition would work alongside and help the ADL, or that the ADL would get information from the ICC.

Ralph Nader: You're critical of the FBI, which has taken a pass here. They're not investigating and they're not enforcing the law. They don't have any such inhibitions against Islamic American groups. You spoke to some people who retired from the FBI, and they were a bit more candid. Tell us about that.

James Bamford: That was the point I was just trying to make, that it's not really the agent level, or the street agent level. I know a lot of FBI agents. I've dealt with FBI all my life. So, I've interviewed a lot of agents, and on the street level that's why they joined the FBI, to arrest people and catch people doing crimes.

The problem is, once it starts working its way up. I interviewed the former head of counterintelligence for the FBI. I didn't want his name mentioned, but I asked him about this whole thing. Why is there no investigations going on? And he basically said, "There are investigations going on. We have investigated." The problem is, once they send it up to the Justice Department, nothing happens. The FBI can't do anything.

All the FBI can do is recommend that action be taken. The Justice Department has to do the prosecution, and when it gets up to the Justice Department, nothing happens, and that's because the Justice Department is a political organization, basically, with the White House not wanting to create an issue that might result in a loss of votes during an election. And if you start arresting Israelis and bringing pro-Israeli groups into court, that's not going to win you a lot of votes with a lot of the people who are pro-Israeli supporters.

Ralph Nader: Well, we're out of time. Thank you very much, James Bamford. Again, you have broached the frontiers of the public's right to know about what's going on in government and its related connections, wherever they may lead you.

James Bamford: Thanks for having me on your show. It's a great platform to be on. So thanks again.

Steve Skrovan: We've been speaking with James Bamford. We will link to his extensive body of work on this subject at ralphnaderradiohour.com. I want to thank our guests again, Josh Paul and James Bamford. For those of you listening on the radio, that's our show. For you podcast listeners, stay tuned for some bonus material we call "The Wrap Up" featuring Francesco DeSantis with "In Case You Haven’t Heard." A transcript of this program will appear on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour Substack site soon after the episode is posted.

David Feldman: Subscribe to us on our Ralph Nader Radio Hour YouTube channel. And for Ralph's weekly column, you can get it free by going to nader.org. For more from Russell Mokhiber, go to corporatecrimereporter.com.

Steve Skrovan: The American Museum of Tort Law has gone virtual. Go to tortmuseum.org to explore the exhibits, take a virtual tour, and learn about iconic tort cases from history.

David Feldman: We have a new issue of the Capitol Hill Citizen. It's out now. To order your copy of the Capitol Hill Citizen "Democracy Dies in Broad Daylight", go to capitolhillcitizen.com.

Steve Skrovan: And remember, don’t forget to continue the conversation after each show, go to the comments section at ralphnaderradiohour.com and post a comment or question on this week's episode.

David Feldman: The producers of the Ralph Nader Radio Hour are Jimmy Lee Wirt and Matthew Marran. Our executive producer is Alan Minsky.

Steve Skrovan: Our theme music, "Stand Up, Rise Up" was written and performed by Kemp Harris. Our proofreader is Elisabeth Solomon. Our associate producer is Hannah Feldman. Our social media manager is Steven Wendt.

David Feldman: Join us next week on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour when our guest will be Stephanie Fox from Jewish Voice for Peace. Thank you, Ralph.

Ralph Nader: Thank you, everybody. It's been quite a program--profiles and courage.
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Re: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

Postby admin » Sat Feb 03, 2024 10:56 pm

More than 800 officials from the United States and Europe have signed a scathing criticism of Western policy towards Israel and Gaza, accusing their governments of possible complicity in war crimes.
by Mick Krever
Posted 10:03 a.m. Yesterday - Updated 1:01 a.m. Today
https://www.wral.com/story/more-than-80 ... /21264938/

People bury Palestinians, including those killed in Israeli strikes and fire, at a mass grave in Rafah, January 30, 2024. (Mohammed Salem/Reuters)

(CNN) — More than 800 officials from the United States and Europe have signed a scathing criticism of Western policy towards Israel and Gaza, accusing their governments of possible complicity in war crimes.

In a statement obtained by CNN, the officials say there is a “plausible risk that our governments’ policies are contributing to grave violations of international humanitarian law, war crimes and even ethnic cleansing or genocide.”

They accuse their governments of failing to hold Israel to the same standards they apply to other countries and weakening their own “moral standing” in the world.

Among them are around 80 United States officials and diplomats, a source told CNN.

In an unprecedented display of coordinated dissent since Israel’s war against Hamas began nearly four months ago, the signatories call on their governments to “use all leverage” to secure a ceasefire and to stop saying that there is a “a strategic and defensible rationale behind the Israeli operation.”

The public letter, released Friday, comes a week after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) found South Africa’s claim that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza to be “plausible,” and ordered Israel to “take all measures” to limit the death and destruction caused by its military campaign, prevent and punish incitement to genocide, and ensure access to humanitarian aid.

The statement “shows the depths of concerns and outrage and just horror that all of us are witnessing,” a US official with more than 25 years’ experience, who signed the letter, told CNN on Friday.

“The talking points that keep being delivered day after day are not cutting it.”

The US official told CNN that the signatories were motivated by their shared experience of having their concerns be ignored by their governments and by “the appropriateness” of public dissent by civil servants when ignored internally.

The official added that the ICJ’s decision to hear a genocide case lodged against Israel was validation for the authors’ concerns. Israel has strenuously denied accusations of genocide in Gaza.

“What was really important for those of us on the US side was to link arms with the people in Europe who believe their governments are following the US lead, and feel constrained by that,” the official said. “So we thought it was important that US officials continue to make clear their concerns with government policy on this.”

The statement, which does not list its signatories, says that it was “coordinated” by civil servants in European Union institutions, The Netherlands, and the United States, and endorsed by civil servants in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Despite the letter not listing its authors, the US official told CNN many colleagues feared losing their jobs, and that the lower number of US signatories reflected stronger protections for official dissents in Europe.

CNN has asked the U.S. State Department, the European Union, and the Dutch Foreign Ministry for a response to the statement. CNN has also reached out to the Israeli government for a response.

A senior British civil servant told CNN of the letter: “We feel that politicians have responded to the evolving situation, evinced by the Foreign Secretary’s words this week.”

The Dutch Foreign Ministry, in a statement to CNN, said that while civil servants are entitled to freedom of expression, they are subject to some limitations under Dutch law.

“It is only natural that the debate in society about the conflict between Israel and Hamas also exists within our ministry. We feel that there should be scope for this debate and we encourage staff to enter into dialogues internally. And these dialogues are taking place.”

‘We are obliged to do everything in our power’

In the letter, the officials say that they raised concerns internally within their governments and institutions, but their professional concerns have often been overruled “by political and ideological considerations.”

“We are obliged to do everything in our power on behalf of our countries and ourselves to not be complicit in one of the worst human catastrophes of this century,” they write.

Israel’s policies, they argue, are counterproductive to its own national security goals.

“Israel’s military operations have disregarded all important counterterrorism expertise gained since 9/11; and that the operation has not contributed to Israel’s goal of defeating Hamas and instead has strengthened the appeal of Hamas, Hezbollah and other negative actors.”

They say that Western support for Israel has come “without real conditions or accountability.”

“Our governments’ current policies weaken their moral standing and undermine their ability to stand up for freedom, justice, and human rights globally and weaken our efforts to rally international support for Ukraine and to counter malign actions by Russia, China and Iran,” they say.

Finally, they call on their governments to “develop a strategy for lasting peace that includes a secure Palestinian state and guarantees for Israel’s security, so that an attack like 7 October and an offensive on Gaza never happen again.”

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Re: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

Postby admin » Wed Feb 07, 2024 10:14 pm

Northwestern Students Face Criminal Charges for Pro-Palestine College Newspaper Parody: Publishers of the school newspaper notified police. Now the students, charged under an obscure anti-KKK law, face a year in jail.
by Connor Echols
The Intercept
February 5 2024, 4:40 p.m.
https://theintercept.com/2024/02/05/nor ... er-israel/



STUDENTS AT NORTHWESTERN University, in the Chicago suburbs, woke up on October 25 to face an unexpected allegation. “Northwestern complicit in genocide of Palestinians,” declared the school’s venerable student newspaper, the Daily Northwestern, in a front-page story.

The students, however, weren’t really looking at the Daily Northwestern. Instead, they had found the Northwestern Daily, a parody newspaper attacking the school’s stance on Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip.

The mock front page featured fake quotes from school officials, accusations of Israeli war crimes, and a fake ad for Birthright Israel — the travel abroad program that sends young American Jews to Israel — with the tagline “One man’s home is another man’s former home!” Overnight, someone had pinned the mock papers on bulletin boards, spread them on desks in lecture halls, and even wrapped the false front pages around roughly 300 copies of the Daily Northwestern itself.

A photo of the parody cover of the Daily Northwestern mocking Northwestern University's stances on Israel's war in Gaza. A photo of the parody cover of the Daily Northwestern mocking Northwestern University’s stances on Israel’s war in Gaza. Obtained by The Intercept

The stunt quickly sparked a furor among Israel’s supporters online. One writer, at the conservative National Review, said the fake newspaper included an antisemitic “blood libel.” The university itself said the spoof “included images and language about Israel that many in our community found offensive.”

The parent company of the school paper, Students Publishing Company, or SPC, announced that it had “engaged law enforcement to investigate and find those responsible.”
The results of the inquiry are just now coming to light.

Following the investigation, local prosecutors brought charges against two students for theft of advertising services. The little-known statute appears to only exist in Illinois and California, where it was originally passed to prevent the Ku Klux Klan from distributing recruitment materials in newspapers. The statute makes it illegal to insert an “unauthorized advertisement in a newspaper or periodical.” The students, both of whom are Black, now face up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

“I have never seen anyone charged with theft of advertising,” said Elaine Odeh, a lawyer who formerly supervised public defenders in Cook County, Illinois, which includes Evanston, where Northwestern is based.

Jon Yates, a spokesperson for Northwestern, told The Intercept and Responsible Statecraft, “The Students Publishing Company, independent publisher of The Daily Northwestern, pursued a criminal complaint related to the publication of the ‘fake Daily’ this fall. As required by law, University Police pursued a criminal investigation, which led to a citation for violating state law that was issued to multiple students.” (SPC is independent from the university, though several professors and students sit on its board of directors)

Some student staffers working for the actual Daily Northwestern are angry that charges are going forward, according to a former Daily Northwestern editor and current student, who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation from school officials. “It’s very clear that this is a discriminatory action,” the student said. The Daily Northwestern’s own editorial board wrote Monday that its publisher should formally request that the case be dropped, calling the investigation “unnecessary and harmful.” (Disclosure: I am a graduate of Northwestern’s journalism school but was never involved with the Daily Northwestern.)

The Class A misdemeanor charges, the highest level short of a felony, represent an escalation in the battle over free speech and protest on college campuses as the war in Gaza drags into its fifth month. Pro-Palestine activism on campus has faced a severe crackdown due to what Israel’s backers say is antisemitism and hate speech, with school administrations working closely with police.

“It’s always a concern when colleges and universities appear to be disproportionately targeting one form of political speech.”

At American University, school officials enlisted the FBI to help investigate incidents in which students defaced pro-Israel posters. Several colleges have banned or suspended chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine, a popular pro-Palestine group, including at Columbia University, which subsequently beefed up its police presence. And several dozen students at the University of Michigan are facing charges for trespassing after refusing police orders to leave a building.

Graham Piro of the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, a nonprofit specializing in free speech advocacy, said, “It’s always a concern when colleges and universities appear to be disproportionately targeting one form of political speech.”

“Pursue It as a Criminal Act”

At Northwestern, the criminal charges struck many as a serious escalation. One student, who requested anonymity to prevent backlash from family in Israel, said he found the parody “offensive” but felt the charges went too far.

Stephanie Kollmann, the policy director of a Northwestern’s law school clinic focused on criminal justice, questioned why SPC chose to go directly to the police rather than issuing a cease-and-desist letter to the students. Kollmann said colleges and affiliated institutions often seek to keep incidents out of the courts despite potential criminal conduct. The fact that charges were brought in this case means that SPC, university police, and the state’s attorney’s office all used their discretion to opt for the harshest response.

“The idea that multiple people in a chain of reaction to this incident repeatedly decided to not use any of the other tools of reproval available to them,” said Kollmann, “but rather chose to pursue it as a criminal act is frankly remarkable.”

Many at the university are pushing back on the charges. Over 70 student organizations — including high-profile groups like Mayfest Productions, which sponsors an annual music festival on campus — have pledged to not speak with the Daily Northwestern until the charges are dropped.
“Even students who have just been generally quiet on what’s happening with Israel and Palestine, I’ve been seeing them speak out for the first time regarding this,” said a student organizer, who requested anonymity due to fears of retaliation from the university.

More than 5,000 people have signed a student-led petition calling on SPC to drop the charges and alleging that the incident represents “targeted over-policing of Black students.”

Students and lawyers expressed surprise that prosecutors chose to bring the hammer down using such a little-known law, especially one originally designed to target white supremacist groups. Chicago police have only ever arrested one person under the statute, according to the city’s arrest database.

The decision of whether to prosecute the charges now rests solely with the local prosecutor, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, which did not respond to a request for comment. SPC, however, can join students in asking prosecutors to drop the case, which could influence their decision-making going forward.

SPC’s board of directors, for its part, denies that political motivations had anything to do with its decision to report the incident to police. “This is not an issue of free speech or parody,” the board said in a statement. “[J]ust as you cannot take over the airwaves of a TV station or the website of a publication, you also cannot disrupt the distribution of a student newspaper.”

The board includes several prominent journalists and media executives, including longtime ESPN personality J.A. Adande, CNN legal director Steve Kiehl, and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Robert Samuels.

The war in Gaza has created a litany of challenges for Northwestern. President Michael Schill initially drew backlash when, shortly after October 7, he said the school would not take a position on the conflict. Schill issued a second statement just a day later, in which he condemned Hamas’s attacks as “barbaric acts” that are “clearly antithetical to Northwestern’s values.”

“If this was done about literally any other topic, there would not be this amount of blowback.”

Some faculty and students have loudly condemned the school, saying it’s showed a bias against pro-Palestinian activists. However, pro-Israel advocates claim Schill has failed to protect Jewish students. Alums for Campus Fairness dropped a cool $600,000 on ads attacking Schill, including a 30-second spot that ran during Northwestern’s bowl game. The ad alleged that student groups “resoundingly support” Hamas and called on the school to “take decisive action against individuals violating university policy.”

Evgeny Stolyarov, a Jewish student at Northwestern who supports a ceasefire in Gaza, said that the charges will have a “chilling effect on speech” related to the war.

“If this was done about literally any other topic, there would not be this amount of blowback,” Stolyarov said. “It also, in some ways, reinvigorates the student body,” he added. “Hopefully this ends up bringing activists on campus together.”
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Re: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

Postby admin » Wed Feb 07, 2024 11:34 pm

Netanyahu's War on Truth: Israel’s Ruthless Propaganda Campaign to Dehumanize Palestinians
by Jeremy Scahill
The Intercept
February 7 2024, 6:00 a.m.
https://theintercept.com/2024/02/07/gaz ... estinians/



Israeli soldiers detain blindfolded Palestinian men in a military truck in the southern Gaza Strip on Nov. 19, 2023. Photo: Mahmud Hams/AFP via Getty Images

TWO WEEKS BEFORE Hamas commandos led a series of raids into Israel on October 7, Benjamin Netanyahu stood before an empty chamber at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. The Israeli prime minister brandished a map of what he promised could be the “New Middle East.” It depicted a state of Israel that stretched continuously from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. On this map, Gaza and the West Bank were erased. Palestinians did not exist.

“What a historic change for my country! You see, the land of Israel is situated on the crossroads between Africa, Asia, and Europe,” Netanyahu bellowed at a handful of spectators in the large hall, nearly all of whom were his loyalists or underlings. “For centuries, my country was repeatedly invaded by empires passing through it in their campaigns of plunder and conquest elsewhere. But today, as we tear down walls of enmity, Israel can become a bridge of peace and prosperity between these continents.”

During that speech, Netanyahu portrayed the full normalizing of relations with Saudi Arabia, an initiative spearheaded under the Trump administration and embraced by the Biden White House, as the linchpin of his vision for this “new” reality, one which would open the door to a “visionary corridor that will stretch across the Arabian Peninsula and Israel. It will connect India to Europe with maritime links, rail links, energy pipelines, fiber-optic cables.”

He was speaking on the grand stage of the U.N. General Assembly, but no world leaders bothered to attend. Outside, some 2,000 people, a mixture of American Jews and Israeli citizens, protested his attacks on the independence of the Israeli judiciary system. The scene served as a reminder of how deeply unpopular his far-right governing coalition, not to mention Netanyahu himself, had become in Israel. At that moment, it seemed that Netanyahu was pushed against the ropes, in a losing battle to continue his political reign.

Netanyahu is using the horrors of October 7 to wage the crusade he’s been preparing for his entire political career.

Just days later, as Hamas commandos penetrated the barriers encircling Gaza and embarked on their deadly raids targeting several military installations as well as kibbutzim, everything changed in an instant. Everything, that is, except the primary agenda that has been at the center of Netanyahu’s long political career: the absolute destruction of Palestine and its people.

Just as the Bush administration exploited the 9/11 attacks to justify a sweeping war in which it declared the world a battlefield, Netanyahu is using the horrors of October 7 to wage the crusade he’s been preparing for his entire political career. With his grip on power fading last fall, the October 7 attacks provided him with just the opportunity he needed, and he hitched his political survival to the war on Gaza and what could be his last chance to eliminate Israel’s Palestinian problem once for all.

In that sense, Bibi was saved by Hamas.

1/30/01 -- Saddam's removal is top item of Bush's inaugural national security meeting. Treasury Sec. Paul O'Neill later recalls, 'It was all about finding a way to do it. The president saying, 'Go find me a way to do this.'"

2/14/01 -- Dick Cheney's energy task force begins secret meetings with oil company executives.

2/16/01 -- Bush: "To send a clear signal to Saddam," U.S. and U.K. bomb targets near Baghdad.

3/5/01 -- Pentagon produces document titled "Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts" for Cheney's task force. Includes a map of areas for potential exploration.

-- Lie by Lie: How Our Leaders Used Fear and Falsehood To Dupe Us Into a Mideast Quaqmire: A Timeline, by Tim Dickinson & Jonathan Stein

Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu shows a graphic illustrating his “New Middle East” during his speech at the 78th Session of the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 22, 2023. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Intelligence Failures

Four months in, Netanyahu’s war of annihilation against Gaza has become a guerrilla war of attrition. Not a single Israeli hostage has been freed through military force, and Hamas has shown an enduring resilience and ability to pick off Israel Defense Forces soldiers. The Israeli public, outside of the ideological true believers intent on occupying and settling Gaza, is showing signs of fatigue and desperation. Many family members of captives are growing louder in their demands for an immediate deal with Hamas that centers the lives of their loved ones over the political agenda laid out by Netanyahu and his clique. Some have demanded new elections or Netanyahu’s resignation. Protests against the war, though small, are beginning to grow inside Israel, with some demonstrations echoing global calls demanding a humanitarian ceasefire and an end to Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.

As the death toll in Gaza surpasses a conservative estimate of 27,000 lives, many of the core narratives deployed by the Israeli and U.S. governments to justify the slaughter are coming under increased scrutiny; some have been definitively debunked.
In Israel, this is a delicate line of inquiry. That Hamas killed large numbers of Israelis is not in doubt. But how they managed to do so while living under the lauded and vigilant eyes of the Mossad, Shin Bet, the Israeli Security Agency, and the IDF is the subject of mounting public attention.

There have been several credible reports that Israeli intelligence analysts warned that Hamas operatives appeared to be training for raids into Israel. The New York Times and other outlets have reported on the existence of a 40-page internal Hamas document code-named “Jericho Wall.” Purportedly obtained by Israeli intelligence, it is said to lay out detailed plans by Hamas to conduct precisely the type of assault against Israeli military installations and villages that occurred on October 7.

While warnings from Israeli analysts who reviewed the document were reportedly brushed aside by senior officials, last July a signals intelligence officer urged the chain of command to take it seriously. Noting a recent daylong training exercise by Hamas in Gaza, the analyst asserted that the training precisely mirrored the operations laid out in the document. “It is a plan designed to start a war,” she pleaded. “It’s not just a raid on a village.”

Hundreds of vehicles damaged or destroyed during the October 7 Hamas-led attacks and subsequent counterstrikes by the Israeli military are collected at a site in Tkuma, Israel, on Nov. 5, 2023. Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

The night before Hamas’s raid, intelligence analysts began reporting significant evidence suggesting that Hamas might be preparing for an attack inside Israel. The head of Shin Bet traveled to the south and orders were issued to deploy a special counterterror force to confront any potential incursions, according to an investigative report in the Israeli publication Yedioth Ahronoth.

Shortly after 3 a.m. on October 7, a senior intelligence official concluded the activity in Gaza was likely another Hamas training exercise, saying, “We still believe that [Hamas leader Yahya] Sinwar is not pivoting towards an escalation.”

A few hours later, as Israeli officials gathered in a command center chaotically scrambling to deploy forces to respond to the multipronged attacks led by Hamas, a senior officer silenced the room: “The Gaza Division was overpowered.”

Early on in the war against Gaza, Netanyahu sought to deflect blame for failing to foresee Hamas’s attacks onto his intelligence services. “Contrary to the false claims: Under no circumstances and at no stage was Prime Minister Netanyahu warned of Hamas’s war intentions,” read a tweet posted on Netanyahu’s official Twitter account. “On the contrary, all the security officials, including the head of military intelligence and the head of the Shin Bet, assessed that Hamas had been deterred and was looking for a settlement. This assessment was submitted again and again to the prime minister and the cabinet by all the security forces and intelligence community, up until the outbreak of the war.”

But serious questions lingered over how Hamas was able to lay siege to large sections of what Israel calls the “Gaza envelope” and whether Netanyahu had knowledge that an attack of this very nature was being planned in full view of Israel’s extensive surveillance systems and spy networks. There is also a mounting body of evidence to indicate that Israeli forces were given orders on October 7 to stop Hamas’s attacks at all costs, including the killing of Israeli civilians taken captive by Palestinian fighters.
The Israeli military has indicated that it plans to conduct an “uncompromising” investigation into the intelligence failures, drawing the ire of some far-right members of Netanyahu’s government.

Under fire from his own ministers and supporters for impugning Israeli military and intelligence agencies, Netanyahu apologized for his comments, deleted the tweet, and then shifted to the stance he now repeats: There will be a time for such inquiries — but only after Israel achieves total victory in Gaza and eliminates Hamas. “The only thing that I intend to have resign is Hamas,” he said in November. “We’re going to resign them to the dustbin of history.”

The destruction in the area where the Al-Maqousi Towers, Al-Mashtal Hotel, and Al-Khalidi Mosque stood after the Israeli army withdrew from north of Gaza City on Feb. 3, 2024. Photo: Omar Ishaq/picture alliance via Getty Images

Information Warfare

The violent ethnonationalist ideology at the center of Netanyahu’s reign was born before his tenure and will endure when he’s gone. But his rule has embodied the most extremist and destructive version of the Israeli state project.

Netanyahu understands the power of defining and dominating the narrative, particularly when targeting it to U.S. audiences. For decades, he has advanced the Israeli propaganda doctrine of hasbara — the notion that Israelis must be aggressive about “explaining” and justifying their actions to the West — to manipulate his adversaries and allies, domestic and international, into serving his objectives.

Netanyahu’s “vision of himself as the chief defender of the Jewish people against calamity allowed him to justify almost anything that would keep him in power,” observed former President Barack Obama in his 2020 memoir.

In the aftermath of October 7, Netanyahu cast Israel’s siege of a tiny strip of land the size of Philadelphia as a war of the worlds in which the very fate of humanity was at stake. “It’s not only our war. It’s your war too,” Netanyahu said in his first interview on CNN after the October 7 attacks. “It’s the battle of civilization against barbarism. And if we don’t win here, this scourge will pass. The Middle East will pass to other places. The Middle East will fall. Europe is next. You will be next.”

The Israeli government rapidly deployed a multipronged propaganda strategy to win unprecedented support from the U.S. and other Western governments for a sweeping war against the entire population of Gaza. To oppose Israel’s war is antisemitic; to question its assertions about the events of October 7 is akin to Holocaust denial; to protest the mass killing of Palestinian civilians is to do the bidding of Hamas.

At the center of Israel’s information warfare campaign is a tactical mission to dehumanize Palestinians and to flood the public discourse with a stream of false, unsubstantiated, and unverifiable allegations.

“We were struck Saturday by an attack whose savagery I can say we have not seen since the Holocaust,” Netanyahu told President Joe Biden in a phone call on October 11. “They took dozens of children, bound them up, burned them and executed them.” He added: “We have never seen such savagery in the history of the state. They’re even worse than ISIS and we need to treat them as such.”

“We are fighting human animals and we are acting accordingly,” said Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on October 9.

The message of these statements and others like them was clear: Israel is confronting monsters, and no one has any business telling the Jewish state, established in the aftermath of World War II under the mantra of “Never again,” how to respond to an attempted genocide. Israeli officials routinely invoke the Holocaust, compare Hamas to the Nazis or to ISIS, and portray the events of October 7 as evidence of an organized effort to commit genocide against the Jewish people.

On October 10, three days after the attacks, the Israeli military organized a tour for international journalists to view the scene at Kfar Aza Kibbutz. As they guided reporters and camera crews through the community, IDF officials spread rumors that as many as 40 babies had been murdered by Hamas, some of them beheaded. “It’s something I never saw in my life. It’s something I used to imagine of my grandmother and my grandfather in Europe and other places,” an Israeli general told reporters. “We got very, very disturbing reports that came from the ground that there were babies that had been beheaded,” said IDF spokesperson Jonathan Conricus in a briefing for international journalists. “I admit it took us some time to really understand and to verify that report. It was hard to believe that even Hamas could perform such a barbaric act.”

Lt. Col. Guy Basson, deputy commander of the Israeli army’s Kfir Brigade, claimed that he saw the aftermath of eight babies who were executed in a nursery at Kibbutz Be’eri. Among the victims, Basson asserted, was also a survivor of the Auschwitz death camp. “I see the number engraved on her arm, and you say to yourself, she went through the Holocaust in Auschwitz and ended up dying on Kibbutz Be’eri.” Another Israeli soldier told a journalist that “babies and children were hung on a clothes line in a row.”

President Joe Biden speaks with Eli Beer, founder of volunteer EMS organization United Hatzalah of Israel on Oct. 18, 2023, in Tel Aviv. Beer told several graphic stories about the Hamas attacks that were later debunked. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Three weeks after the October 7 attacks, Eli Beer, the head of a volunteer EMS squad in Israel, traveled to the U.S. and addressed a gathering at the convention of the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas. “I saw in my own eyes a woman who was pregnant, four months pregnant,” he said. “They came into her house, in front of her kids, they opened up her stomach took out the baby, and stabbed the little, tiny baby in front of her and then shot her in front of her family and then they killed the rest of the kids.”

Beer offered graphic descriptions of other horrors he claimed to have witnessed. “These bastards put these babies in an oven and put on the oven. We found the kid a few hours later,” he told he U.S. audience on October 28. “I saw little kids who were beheaded. We didn’t know which head belonged to which kid.” Beer, whose stories were widely reported in the international media, also met with Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Israel soon after the attack.

But there is a problem with the gut-wrenching narratives that have bolstered the underlying justification for the slaughter of Gaza: They are either complete fabrications or have not been substantiated with a shred of evidence. Many have been thoroughly disproven by major Israeli media outlets.

In his urgent arguments during the fall and winter of 1990 for military action against Saddam Hussein, President Bush made much of the Iraqi leader's cruelty toward the Kuwaiti people...

... but the most sensational one -- that Iraqi soldiers removed hundreds of Kuwaiti babies from incubators and left them to die on hospital floors -- was shown to be almost certainly false by an ABC reporter, John Martin, in March 1991, directly after the liberation of Kuwait. He interviewed hospital doctors who stayed in Kuwait throughout the occupation.

But before the war, the incubator story seriously distorted the American debate about whether to support military action. Amnesty International believed the tale, and its ill-considered validation of the charges likely influenced the seven U.S. Senators who cited the story in speeches supporting the Jan. 12 resolution authorizing war. Since the resolution passed the Senate by only six votes, the question of how the incubator story escaped scrutiny -- when it really mattered -- is all the more important. (Amnesty International later retracted its support of the story.)

A little reportorial investigation would have done a great service to the democratic process. Americans would have been interested to know the identity of "Nayirah," the 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl who shocked the Congressional Human Rights Caucus on Oct. 10, 1990, when she tearfully asserted that she had watched 15 infants being taken from incubators in Al-Adan Hospital in Kuwait City by Iraqi soldiers who "left the babies on the cold floor to die." The chairmen of the Congressional group, Tom Lantos, a California Democrat, and John Edward Porter, an Illinois Republican, explained that Nayirah's identity would be kept secret to protect her family from reprisals in occupied Kuwait.

There was a better reason to protect her from exposure: Nayirah, her real name, is the daughter of the Kuwaiti Ambassador to the U.S., Saud Nasir al-Sabah. Such a pertinent fact might have led to impertinent demands for proof of Nayirah's whereabouts in August and September of 1990, when she said she witnessed the atrocities, as well as corroboration of her charges.

-- Remember Nayirah, Witness for Kuwait?, by John R. MacArthur

In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, Netanyahu and other Israeli officials presented U.S. and international leaders with a range of graphic images and videos along with unverified narrative explanations for what they allegedly depicted. “It’s simply depravity in the worst imaginable way,” Blinken said after first viewing the photos. “Images are worth a thousand words. These images may be worth a million.”

In a coup for Netanyahu’s hasbara campaign, Biden and other leaders have laundered many of Israel’s obscene lies.

In a coup for Netanyahu’s hasbara campaign, Biden and other leaders have laundered many of Israel’s obscene lies. Beginning just days after October 7, Biden repeatedly claimed that he personally saw photographs of beheaded babies and more atrocities. Even after the White House admitted Biden had seen no such photos, he continued to make the allegation, including after visiting Netanyahu and other Israeli officials in Tel Aviv. “I saw some of the photographs when I was there — tying a mother and her daughter together on a rope and then pouring kerosene on them and then burning them, beheading infants, doing things that are just inhuman — totally, completely inhuman,” Biden said at a campaign in event in December.

Blinken told the U.S. Senate another harrowing story about how Hamas terrorists had tortured a family in their living room while intermittently taking breaks to eat a meal their victims had placed on the dining table before the horrors began that morning. “A young boy and girl, 6 and 8 years old, and their parents around the breakfast table. The father’s eye gouged out in front of his kids. The mother’s breast cut off, the girl’s foot amputated, the boy’s fingers cut off before they were executed,” Blinken said. “And then their executioners sat down and had a meal. That is what this society is dealing with.”

The story Blinken told about terrorists eating a meal while torturing an Israeli family, as well as some of the assertions about decapitated babies, was based on the speculative fiction invented by Yossi La, an official from the scandal-plagued private Israeli rescue organization Zaka, who has repeatedly spread wildly false stories.

Army rescue and Zaka crews search Kibbutz Be’eri, one of the sites attacked by Hamas fighters, on Oct. 22, 2023. Members of Zaka, a private Israeli rescue organization, repeatedly spread disinformation, some of which was promoted by U.S. officials. Photo: Amir Levy/Getty Images/Getty Images

There was no Holocaust survivor killed at Kibbutz Be’eri that day. There were no mass beheadings of babies, no group executions in a nursery, no children hung from clotheslines, and no infants placed in ovens. No pregnant woman had her stomach cut open and the fetus knifed in front of her and her other children. These stories are entirely fictional, a set of audacious lies weaponized to generate the type of collective rage used to justify the unjustifiable.

According to major Israeli media outlets that have worked diligently to identify all the victims of the October 7 attacks, there was one infant killed that day: a 9-month-old named Mila Cohen who was shot dead at Kibbutz Be’eri as her mother held her in her arms. Cohen’s mother, who was wounded by gunfire, survived. Among the other civilians killed on October 7, seven of them were between the ages of 2 and 9 years, and 28 were between the ages of 10 and 19. Fourteen of these children died in Hamas rocket attacks, not at the hands of the armed commandos who stormed the kibbutzes.

There is no doubt that widespread atrocities and war crimes were committed during the Hamas-led attacks of October 7. It is also true that Israeli military, government, and rescue officials have engaged in a deliberate misinformation campaign about the nature of many deaths that occurred that day.

These stories are a set of audacious lies weaponized to generate the type of collective rage used to justify the unjustifiable.

Israeli officials have toured the world with a film produced at the direction of the IDF. The 47-minute “Bearing Witness to the October 7 Massacre” features video allegedly seized from Palestinian attackers equipped with GoPro cameras and cellphones, according to Israeli officials. The movie has not been released to the public and has only been available via special invitation from the Israeli government. Its audiences have included Hollywood celebrities, dozens of U.S. lawmakers and government officials, journalists, and global luminaries; it has screened at various international venues, including museums established in memory of the Holocaust. While hours of footage of the attacks and their aftermath are available online, including video shot by Palestinians who participated in the raids, the Israeli government has said the footage is too sensitive to be publicly released.

An IDF official, in uniform, personally delivers the professionally produced Digital Cinema Package for the screenings, and viewers are required to sign nondisclosure agreements affirming they will not record or distribute the footage. “It will change the way you view the Middle East and the way you view the war in Gaza,” said Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, at the Los Angeles premiere of the footage last November. The film was characterized in media accounts as depicting “murder, beheadings, rapes and other atrocities against Jewish adults and children.”

The event, at the Museum of Tolerance, was organized by Israeli actor Gal Gadot, star of the “Wonder Woman” movies, for film executives and other members of the Hollywood industry. “Hamas must be eradicated. This is the only way to prevent another massacre,” Erdan added. “If Israel doesn’t eradicate this evil, mark my words: The West is next.”

While Israel has emphasized how incendiary the footage is, British journalist Owen Jones, who attended an IDF screening in the U.K., said a “significant amount” of the video is already in the public domain. He said that while there was footage of one IDF soldier who had apparently been decapitated, as well as the already public footage of an unsuccessful attempt to behead a migrant Thai worker with a garden tool, there was no footage substantiating allegations of torture, sexual violence, and mass beheadings, including of babies or other children. “Clearly this footage hasn’t been selected at random. You would expect it to be the worst material that they have,” Jones said. “This isn’t to say none of this happened, it’s just not in the footage, which has been provided by the Israeli authorities.”

Israel’s hasbara campaign is reminiscent of the Bush administration’s months-long carnival of lies, sanitized and promoted by major media outlets, about alleged weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. And Biden directly participated in President George W. Bush’s campaign as well. In his October 2002 Senate floor speech endorsing war against Iraq, Biden declared that Saddam Hussein “possesses chemical and biological weapons and is seeking nuclear weapons.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hugs U.S. President Joe Biden upon his arrival at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport on Oct. 18, 2023. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Allegations of Systematic Rape

The Israeli propaganda machine is well oiled. Anyone can look back at Israel’s four-month war against Gaza and trace a pattern: Israel chooses an issue and demands global attention to its agenda at the expense of any other matter.

When news organizations began reporting on the civilian toll of Israel’s initial airstrikes against Gaza, the government accused photographers for major news organizations of being Hamas members or sympathizers who had foreknowledge of the October 7 attacks. Netanyahu said the journalists were “accomplices in crimes against humanity.” Israel then portrayed Gaza’s hospitals as secret Hamas command centers, an allegation that the Biden administration bolstered as the IDF prepared to lay siege to Al-Shifa Hospital last November.

Throughout the war, Israel has sought to direct media and global attention to various new smoking-gun narratives. And in nearly every case, it succeeds in getting the U.S. on board to launder and promote the talking points.

In late November, as the civilian death toll in Gaza climbed, Israel was struggling to retain its dominance of the narrative. Global demands for a ceasefire were mounting, and even some of Israel’s allies were expressing horror at the indiscriminate killing of women and children and the worsening humanitarian catastrophe.

A weeklong truce, during which captives were exchanged, raised hopes that a more enduring peace deal could be on the horizon, despite Israeli insistence that that was out of the question. “A prolonged ceasefire that allows more hostages to be released, and that evolves towards a permanent ceasefire linked to a political process, is something we have consensus on,” said the EU’s top foreign policy official Josep Borrell.

Days earlier, the prime ministers of Spain and Belgium traveled to the Rafah border to push for such a deal and drew the fury of the Israeli government when they publicly condemned the indiscriminate killing of Palestinian civilians. Eli Cohen, then the Israeli foreign minister, accused the leaders of offering “support [for] terrorism,” while Netanyahu released a statement condemning them because they “did not place total responsibility on Hamas for the crimes against humanity it perpetrated.”

Anyone can look back at Israel’s four-month war against Gaza and trace a pattern: Israel chooses an issue and demands global attention to its agenda at the expense of any other matter.

It was at this moment that the Israeli government decided it needed to remind the world of Israel’s victimhood and launched a new phase of the hasbara campaign. It began accusing the international community of standing silent in the face of what Israeli officials described as a widespread campaign of rape and sexual violence aimed at Jewish women and orchestrated by Hamas on October 7. By early December, the issue had become a major focus of conservative media and Israel’s allies.

“I say to the women’s rights organizations, to the human rights organizations, you’ve heard of the rape of Israeli women, horrible atrocities, sexual mutilation? Where the hell are you?” Netanyahu said in a December 5 speech in Tel Aviv.

That day, on the other side of the globe, Biden was at a campaign fundraising event in Boston. “Over the past few weeks, survivors and witnesses of the attacks have shared the horrific accounts of unimaginable cruelty: reports of women raped — repeatedly raped and their bodies being mutilated while still alive, of women corpses being desecrated, and Hamas terrorists inflicting as much pain and suffering as — on women and girls as possible and then murdering them. And it’s appalling,” Biden said. “The world can’t just look away — what’s going on. It’s on all of us — the government, international organizations, civil society, individual citizens — to forcefully condemn the sexual violence of Hamas terrorists without equivocation — without equivocation, without exception.”

From the earliest moments following the October 7 attacks, Israel charged that women had been raped by Hamas fighters, though it was often an allegation made in sequence alongside other alleged atrocities. But in mid-November, those assertions began evolving into a sustained public blitz, accusing Hamas of instituting a plan to “systematically rape women.” Israel government spokesperson Eylon Levy spoke of a “Hamas rapist machine.”

“Hamas used rape and sexual violence as weapons of war,” charged Erdan, the U.N. ambassador. “These were not spur-of-the-moment decisions to defile and mutilate girls and parade them while onlookers cheered; rather, this was premeditated.”

To date, there has been no credible evidence presented publicly that such a campaign took place, and Hamas has vehemently denied that its fighters committed any acts of rape or sexual assault. The fact that Israel has not produced forensic evidence for individual rapes does not prove that no such deeds took place. Rape investigations are often complex, particularly when the crime occurs amid a chaotic scene of mass violence. Sexual violence is common in warfare, and it often takes years for the full story of such crimes to emerge.

But there is a difference between making specific allegations of rape or sexual assault and charging that organized mass rape was a central component of an operation meticulously planned over the course of years. Israel’s evidence of the latter comes nowhere near to measuring up to its claims.

Israeli rescue workers as well as civilian and military medical officials have described evidence of dead women who were naked or had clothing removed, as well as women who were subjected to genital mutilation, though they have not released documentary or forensic evidence.

But many of the most graphic allegations of mass rapes have been offered by Israeli military or rescue officials who acknowledge they have no training or expertise in forensics. Some of them, whose claims have been featured in many media accounts, also spread false stories about other alleged atrocities.

Shari Mendes, an IDF reservist originally from New Jersey, speaks at a conference organized by Israel at the U.N. on Dec. 4, 2023. Mendes has been one of the most prominent voices alleging widespread sexual violence occurred on October 7. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Shari Mendes, an architect serving in the IDF reserves in a rabbinical unit, was deployed to a morgue to prepare bodies for burial after the attacks. An American originally from New Jersey, Mendes did multiple TV and print interviews about her experiences. “We have seen women who have been raped, from the age of children through to the elderly,” she told reporters, emphasizing, “This is not just something we saw on the internet, we saw these bodies with our own eyes.”

For months, [Shari] Mendes has served as one of the most visible witnesses bolstering Israel’s allegations of systematic rape. But few media outlets featuring her claims have mentioned the valid concerns about her credibility and her history of promoting a false story. She told the Daily Mail last October, “A baby was cut out of a pregnant woman and beheaded and then the mother was beheaded.”

On December 5, as Israel engaged in a global media push around its allegations that Hamas had committed mass rapes, Mendes was a featured speaker at an event in New York organized by Israel’s mission to the U.N. on sexual violence and the October 7 attacks. The Times of Israel reported that Mendes “is not legally qualified to determine rape.”

The observations of first responders or members of religious burial units, particularly those without relevant scientific credentials, are not a replacement for forensic documentation of an uncontaminated crime scene. Israeli authorities have said evidence that would typically be taken in cases of suspected sexual assault was not recovered in the aftermath of the attacks, attributing this failure to a combination of the magnitude of the deaths, the charred nature of some bodies, and to Jewish burial practices.

Some of the evidence publicly cited by Israeli officials is testimony provided by Zaka, the private Israeli rescue organization whose members have been widely documented to have spread false allegations. Haaretz published an exposé documenting Zaka’s role in the rampant mishandling of forensic evidence that day and its subsequent campaign of misinformation.

The Israeli government has maintained that it possesses evidence that has not been made public and has enlisted international teams of forensic and other crime scene experts. Israel’s Ministry of Welfare and Social Affairs told the New York Times there are “at least three women and one man who were sexually assaulted and survived.”

But other Israeli officials have stated that there are no known living victims of rape that day, while some have described the challenge of identifying potential victims.

On December 28, the New York Times published what instantly became the most widely circulated news story purporting to document a widespread campaign of sexual violenceorchestrated by Hamas. That story has come under intense scrutiny, including within the Times newsroom.

The family of Gal Abdush, whose alleged rape was at the center of the Times article, disputed the article’s assertion she was raped. One relative also suggested the family was pressured, under false pretenses, to speak with the reporters. Abdush’s sister wrote on Instagram that the Times reporters “mentioned they want to write a report in memory of Gal, and that’s it. If we knew that the title would be about rape and butchery, we’d never accept that.” A woman who filmed Abdush on October 7 told YNet that Israeli journalists working for the Times had pressured her into giving the paper access to her photos and videos. “They called me again and again and explained how important it is to Israeli hasbara,” she recalled. This series of events was documented extensively by Mondoweiss.

Critics of the Times story also pointed to the inconsistencies of the accounts of some of the alleged witnesses featured, as well as to its use of information provided by members of Zaka.

Several Israelis who survived the October 7 attacks have publicly claimed that they witnessed rapes by Palestinian assailants, but Israeli investigators have said they are still searching for supporting evidence. Authorities also say they must match alleged victims with specific eyewitness testimony in order to bring potential charges.

What often goes unmentioned in Israel’s sweeping allegations is an important fact: Hamas was not the only Palestinian group to attack Israelis on October 7. Many individuals who had no knowledge of Hamas’s plans poured across the border and committed acts of violence in what has been referred to as an unplanned “second wave.” Some of these non-Hamas Palestinians also took Israeli hostages back to Gaza.

One survivor of the Nova music festival massacre, a veteran of Israel’s special forces, has given multiple interviews to major media outlets, including the New York Times, about a rape he claims to have witnessed. During an appearance on CNN, Raz Cohen described the assailants as “Five guys — five civilians from Gaza, normal guys, not soldiers, not Nukhba,” referring to Hamas’s elite commando force. “It was regular people from Gaza with normal clothes.” Cohen, it must be noted, has told varying, sometimes contradictory, versions of what he witnessed.

Israel has painted all actions on October 7 as being committed by Hamas and its fighters. That storyline obviously serves Israel’s military and political objectives, but the truth is more complicated.

In light of Israel’s well-documented campaign of lies and misinformation about other events on October 7, incendiary allegations, such as claims that Hamas engaged in a deliberate campaign of systematic rape, should be viewed with extreme skepticism.

Members of the media go on a press tour organized by the Israeli military on Oct. 22, 2023, at Kibbutz Be’eri, which was targeted by Hamas during the October 7 attacks. Witnesses said that an Israeli tank fired on a house filled with Israeli civilians held hostage on October 7. Photo: Thomas Coex/AFP via Getty Images

Friendly Fire

As many U.S. media outlets and politicians have promoted and laundered Israel’s claims, spreading them far and wide, there have been strong voices among the Israeli public and media that have exhibited skepticism. This is especially true regarding the actions taken by Israeli forces as they responded to the October 7 attacks. Calls are growing inside Israel, led by survivors and victims’ families, for the Israeli government to provide a factual explanation of precisely how their loved ones died: Were they killed by Palestinian militants or by the Israeli military?

Israeli media outlets have aired interviews with survivors and IDF personnel describing what they refer to as “friendly fire” incidents, including the shelling of a house where Hamas commandos were holding Israeli civilians hostage. Families of some Israelis killed at Kibbutz Be’eri have cited witnesses who said that an Israeli tank fired on a house filled with Israeli civilians held hostage on October 7. A dozen hostages, including 12-year-old twins, died inside the house after Israeli forces began shelling it.

“According to the evidence, the shooting of the tank was fatal and killed many hostages in addition to the terrorists,” the families wrote in a January 4 letter to the IDF’s chief of staff. Given the “seriousness of the incident, we do not think it is right to wait with the investigation until after the end of the war.” They demanded a “comprehensive and transparent investigation into the decisions and actions that led to this tragic outcome.” Israeli military Brig. Gen. Barak Hiram has since admitted he ordered the shelling that day. “The negotiations are over,” he recalled saying. “Break in, even at the cost of civilian casualties.”

Yasmin Porat, who had escaped the horrors at the Nova music festival and sought refuge in a home at Be’eri, offered extensive details on this incident, as Electronic Intifada reported. In a series of interviews on Israeli media, Porat described how Palestinian commandos entered the home and told the Israeli civilians they intended to take them hostage and, after moving them to a location with other hostages at the kibbutz, ultimately used their Israeli captives to contact the police to negotiate. “Their objective was to kidnap us to Gaza. Not to murder us,” she told Israeli network Kan News. “And after we were there for two hours with the abductors, the police arrive. A gun battle takes place that our police started.”

Porat, who said her captors “treated us very humanely,” described how she managed to escape the house by convincing one of the gunmen to exit with her. After using her as a “human shield” to exit the house, the Palestinian was taken into custody, and Porat remained on the scene as Israeli forces laid siege to the house. “They eliminated everyone, including the hostages. There was very, very heavy crossfire,” she said. “Everyone was killed there. Just horrible.”

Other witnesses at Be’eri have described how Israeli forces were able to retake the kibbutz from Palestinian fighters only after the IDF shelled houses where hostages were being held.

There is also evidence indicating that Israeli forces responding to the attacks at the Nova music festival, where 364 people died, may have killed Israeli civilians as they attacked Palestinian militants, including with munitions fired from Apache helicopters. Yedioth Ahronoth and other major Israeli media outlets have published reports detailing the massive fire from combat helicopters and drones unleashed against the gunmen who violently stormed the festival. Military sources described the difficulty in distinguishing civilians from attackers, particularly in the early phases of the Israeli counterstrike.

In the most sweeping journalistic account to date of the events surrounding the Israeli military’s operations on October 7, Ronen Bergman and Yoav Zitun — two well-connected and prominent Israeli journalists —wrote about the state of chaos and panic within the security establishment. They described “a command chain that failed almost entirely and was entirely blindsided; orders to open fire on terrorist vehicles speeding towards Gaza even as there was a concern that they contained captives — some sort of renewed version of the Hannibal Directive.”

The Hannibal Directive, which dates back to 1986 and has been the subject of great controversy in Israel, authorized military forces to stop the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers at all costs, even if it meant shooting or injuring the captives. In a 2003 investigation, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported the broadly held understanding of the directive: “From the point of view of the army, a dead soldier is better than a captive soldier who himself suffers and forces the state to release thousands of captives in order to obtain his release.”

The Hannibal Directive was allegedly rescinded in 2016. But Bergman and Zitun report that
by midday on October 7, the IDF issued a similar order, instructing all units to stop Hamas from bringing hostages back to Gaza and to do so “at any cost.” They describe Israeli helicopter gunships, drones, and tanks firing on any and all cars en route to Gaza, burning them and in some cases killing everyone inside the vehicles. Haaretz reported on an IDF commander, locked in a subterranean bunker, calling in a strike against his own bases “in order to repulse the terrorists.”

The truth is that we do not know how many of their own people Israeli forces killed during the counteroffensive on October 7. Nor do we know what happened in the firefights when armed Israelis, including kibbutz private security and military personnel, sought to defend their settlements.

How many Israelis — soldiers and civilians — were killed in the chaos and had their deaths recorded as killed or sadistically burned alive by Hamas?

Beyond the deadly shelling of the house at Be’eri, the public has been given very few details of what exactly transpired when official Israeli military forces deployed to confront the commandos from Gaza. Israeli military and police forces engaged in prolonged standoffs and shootouts with Palestinian gunmen holed up in houses, police stations, military installations, and other buildings, often holding hostages. In some cases, these battles went on for days.

In November, Netanyahu senior adviser Mark Regev was asked by MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan about some of the lies told by Israeli officials and soldiers about the events of October 7. Regev remarked that when a claim has been proven false, Israel retracts or clarifies it. “We originally said, in the atrocious Hamas attack upon our people on October 7, we had the number at 1,400 casualties and now we’ve revised that down to 1,200 because we understood that we’d overestimated, we made a mistake,” Regev said. He then added: “There were actually bodies that were so badly burnt we thought they were ours; in the end, apparently they were Hamas terrorists.”

Israel’s social security agency has stated that the death toll from October 7 is 1,139 people. It has identified 695 Israeli civilians killed that day, along with 71 foreigners, most of whom were migrant laborers. Some 373 members of Israeli military and security forces were reported dead.

Israel has estimated that between 1,000 and 1,500 Palestinian fighters were killed that day, many of them during assaults launched with advanced weapons fired from tanks, helicopters, and drones. How many Israelis — soldiers and civilians — were killed in the chaos and had their deaths recorded as killed or sadistically burned alive by Hamas? How many Israeli lives were sacrificed under Hannibal-style orders to prevent them from being taken hostage at all costs?

The answers to these questions will bring no absolution to those who initiated the carnage on October 7. No civilians would have died in those Israeli communities had Hamas not launched its operations. It is also true that if Israel had not engaged in a 75-year campaign of ethnic cleansing and apartheid, there would not have been an October 7. The illusion promoted by the Israeli state that its people could live a bucolic life in the “Gaza envelope” while their government enforced the caging and repression of 2.3 million Palestinians next door was shattered.

The families of the dead deserve to have answers. The specifics of what happened that day also matter because of how these events have shaped the public attitude toward Israel’s war, with its horrifying death toll, particularly among Palestinian children.

Many Palestinian families take refuge under harsh conditions at a school affiliated with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, or UNRWA, in the Daraj neighborhood as the Israeli attacks continue in Gaza City, Gaza, on Feb. 6, 2024. Photo: Dawoud Abo Alkas/Anadolu via Getty Images

Faulty Justifications

Cynical manipulation of the truth has been a hallmark of Netanyahu’s career. He has long advocated for Hamas to achieve and maintain power in Gaza precisely because he believed it was the single best path to achieving his own colonial agenda.

“Anyone who wants to thwart the establishment of a Palestinian state has to support bolstering Hamas and transferring money to Hamas,” Netanyahu told his Likud confederates in 2019. The logic was clear: The world will never give the Palestinians a state while Hamas remains in power. That’s why, since at least 2012, Netanyahu has facilitated the continued flow of money to Hamas.

By January 18, with the horrors in Gaza intensifying, U.S. and European diplomats were telling anyone who would listen that they were deep into planning for a “day after” scenario that would pave the way for a two-state solution. Netanyahu responded to this chatter by giving a televised speech in Hebrew. “I clarify that in any arrangement in the foreseeable future, with an accord or without an accord, Israel must have security control over the entire territory west of the Jordan River,” Netanyahu said. “That’s a necessary condition. It clashes with the principle of sovereignty but what can you do?”

While it was reported as a defiant rebuke of his U.S. and European allies, there was nothing new in Netanyahu’s position. It has been the Likud party’s official stance since its 1977 charter. “Between the Sea and the Jordan there will only be Israeli sovereignty,” the document reads. “A plan which relinquishes parts of western Eretz Israel, undermines our right to the country, unavoidably leads to the establishment of a ‘Palestinian State,’ jeopardizes the security of the Jewish population, endangers the existence of the State of Israel, and frustrates any prospect of peace.”

The hospitals are Hamas, the U.N. is Hamas, journalists are Hamas, European allies are Hamas, the International Court of Justice is antisemitic.

The lies that were spread in the immediate aftermath of the October 7 attacks did not end there. Nearly every week, sometimes every day, the Israeli government and military have unloaded a fresh barrage of allegations intended to justify the ongoing slaughter. The hospitals are Hamas, the U.N. is Hamas, journalists are Hamas, European allies are Hamas, the International Court of Justice is antisemitic. The tactic is effective, particularly because the U.S. and other major allies have consistently laundered Israel’s unverified allegations as evidence of the righteousness of the cause.

Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Daniel Hagari, pictured in northern Gaza on Dec. 15, 2023, is a daily fixture in Israel’s propaganda campaign. Photo: Amir Levy/Getty Images

The latest example is Israel’s campaign to destroy UNRWA, the single most important humanitarian organization in Gaza, which was established in 1949 specifically to protect Palestinians violently expelled from their homes and land by the creation of the Israeli state. Almost immediately after the ICJ ruled against Israel in the genocide case brought by South Africa in The Hague, Israel accused 12 of the organization’s 30,000 employees of participating in the October 7 attacks.

Israel then presented the U.S. and other governments with “intelligence” it claimed to have obtained from the interrogations of Palestinian captives, documents recovered from the bodies of dead Palestinians, seized cellphones, and signals intercepts. Israel charged that 10 percent of UNRWA’s 12,000-person local staff in Gaza had some form of “links” to Hamas. “The institution as a whole is a haven for Hamas’ radical ideology,” an anonymous senior Israeli official told the Wall Street Journal in a widely cited article penned by a former IDF soldier.

The innuendo-laced allegation of UNRWA staff having undefined “links” to Hamas and Islamic Jihad, or “close relatives” who belong to the groups is a risible charge given that Hamas is not just an armed militia, but also the governing civil authority in Gaza.

The U.S. responded to Israel’s allegations by immediately announcing it was suspending all funding to UNRWA. “We haven’t had the ability to investigate [the allegations] ourselves,” Blinken admitted on January 30. Nonetheless, he declared: “They are highly, highly credible.”

But journalists from Sky News reviewed the so-called dossier and reported, “The Israeli intelligence documents make several claims that Sky News has not seen proof of and many of the claims, even if true, do not directly implicate UNRWA.” Britain’s Channel 4 also obtained the document and determined it “provides no evidence to support its explosive new claim that UNRWA staff were involved with terror attacks on Israel.” The Financial Times, which also reviewed the materials, reported there were specific allegations of direct participation in the October 7 attacks against four Palestinians employed by UNRWA, not 12 as originally asserted.

This was a transparent attempt by Israel to distract from the rulings in the ICJ genocide case and to obliterate a U.N. agency that Israel has long viewed as an impediment to its goal of denying Palestinians the right to return to the homes and territory from which Israel expelled them. It was also an action that explicitly violated the orders issued by the world court, which directed Israel to “take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance.” Based on Israel’s sweeping and unverified allegations alone, the U.S. led scores of Western nations to denounce the U.N. agency and pull their funding at the moment it is needed most.

From weapons and intelligence to political, diplomatic, and legal support, Israel has wanted for nothing from the Biden administration. The mounting pile of Palestinian civilian corpses and their surviving family members, meanwhile, are relegated to the workshopped afterthoughts uttered by Western politicians who have been told they should occasionally squeeze a line or two into their speeches about death and suffering in Gaza.

Propaganda and weaponized lies can only obscure the dead bodies, the forced starvation, the mass killing of children, and the utter destruction of an entire society for so long. Over time, it becomes increasingly difficult to conceal the nexus between the actions taken by Israel after October 7, the mendacious narratives it deployed, and Netanyahu’s desperate struggle to retain political power and his personal liberty. The 1,200 Israeli and international victims of October 7, and the more than 27,000 Palestinians whose deaths were justified in their names, deserve an unvarnished rendering of the truth.
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Re: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

Postby admin » Thu Feb 08, 2024 4:09 am

Death and Donations: Did the Israeli Volunteer Group Handling the Dead of October 7 Exploit Its Role? The Zaka volunteer group began collecting bodies in the devastated communities of southern Israel immediately after the Hamas attack, while the IDF sidelined soldiers trained to retrieve remains. An investigation reveals cases of negligence, misinformation and a fundraising campaign that used the dead as props.
by Aaron Rabinowitz
Jan 31, 2024
https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/202 ... 7bdb670000



Zaka volunteers at Be'eri in October. The subjects have no connection to the content of this article. Credit: Olivier Fitoussi. Graphic: Masha Zur Glozman

A group of people sit around a plastic table, taking shelter under the branches of a tree on a hot day. The atmosphere is relaxed, and the conversation flows. Some smoke cigarettes, while others sip soft drinks and nibble on snacks. A young woman is perched on a nearby bench, engrossed in her phone. The environment is pastoral in God's little acre.

Even the body on the ground next to them, wrapped in a white plastic bag, doesn't disturb the scene. It's not external to the story; it's a part of it.

This moment took place in Kfar Azza early in the second week of the war against Hamas. The group sitting among the burned houses and devastation consists of some 10 volunteers from the Jerusalem branch of Zaka, the ultra-Orthodox organization that retrieves human remains after attacks and disasters. The white body bag is marked with the organization's logo.

"It was just bizarre that there was a corpse right there next to them, and they were sitting around, eating, and smoking," said one of two volunteers from a different organization who were present. "It's unbelievable."

The non-Zaka volunteers asked them why they weren't transferring the body into an ambulance or the refrigerated truck parked across the road. They replied indifferently that it would be taken care of later and returned to their diversions.

Approaching the group a little more closely revealed that three of the Zaka volunteers were making video calls and videos for fundraising purposes. According to the non-Zaka observer, the body was part of a staged setting – an exhibit designed to attract donors, just when the race against time to gather and remove the bodies of victims of the massacre was most urgent.

"They opened a war room for donations there," said another witness to the event, who has worked throughout the war in the Gaza border communities attacked on October 7. "Two weeks later, I saw them acting similarly in Be'eri as well – sitting and making videos and fundraising calls inside the kibbutz."

Zaka responded to this description with a statement saying that "No fundraising calls were made on the ground on behalf of the organization, and if any specific incident is brought to our attention, we will examine and deal with it."

A Haaretz investigation raises several questions about procedures during the retrieval of the bodies. It is based on the accounts of military personnel present at the body retrievals and the Shura military base (which was made a body identification center), as well as volunteers from Zaka and other rescue organizations who worked in the border communities.

It's clear that hundreds of Zaka Jerusalem volunteers did important work by collecting victims' bodies under challenging conditions. At the same time, some of the organization's activities – which, on the eve of the war, was entangled in debts of millions of shekels – were directed towards fundraising, public relations, media interviews, and tours for donors.

Zaka volunteers work on fundraising as a body lies nearby.

In the first and critical days of the war, the IDF decided to forego the deployment of hundreds of soldiers specifically trained in the identification and collection of human remains in mass casualty incidents. Instead, the Home Front Command chose to use Zaka, a private organization, alongside soldiers in the Military Rabbinate's search unit, known by the acronym Yasar, for the south.

More personnel were necessary, but when the soldiers of the Military Rabbinate's search unit in the north and the Home Front Command's unit for collecting fallen soldiers reported for reserve duty on October 7, they were told they had to wait.

"I have no explanation for why they didn't deploy [the Home Front Command's unit] and our people from the north," says an officer in Rabbinate's southern search unit.

Officers at the Shura base were also unable to explain why the military didn't deploy the personnel who had already been called up, all of them combat soldiers who knew how to operate under fire. An officer in the Home Front Command's unit said that his commanders "begged" senior leadership for their deployment but were rebuffed. It wasn't until the second week of the war that these soldiers began to operate in the area – and even then, not fully.

In the meantime, Zaka volunteers were there. Most of them worked at the sites of murder and destruction from morning to night. However, according to witness accounts, it becomes clear that others were engaged in other activities entirely. As part of the effort to get media exposure, Zaka spread accounts of atrocities that never happened, released sensitive and graphic photos, and acted unprofessionally on the ground.

There was a price for choosing Zaka, say sources at Shura. "We received bags of theirs without documentation, and sometimes with body parts that were unrelated to one another," says an officer in the camp. Such problems made the identification process very difficult, he says. Some bags came many days after the outbreak of the war, he adds.

One of the volunteers who worked at Shura says: "There were bags with two skulls, bags with two hands, with no way to know which was whose."

Zaka volunteers clean a home in southern Israel after it was attacked. Someone who toured the area with Zaka says he saw remains in buildings marked as cleared.Credit: Zaka

In the following weeks, several hundred cases remained: bags with body parts that had been collected belatedly and which needed to be matched to victims. Some were still unknown as of the time of writing this article. A volunteer from Zaka Jerusalem who serves in the Military Rabbinate says there was a noticeable difference between the professionalism of the soldiers and the Zaka volunteers.

"We arrived at the scene at the beginning of the war, and there was not a body or find in the field that we did not properly document," he says. "Zaka barely wrote anything on the bags, and you can forget about any documentation." The same soldier-volunteer pointed an accusing finger at the military, which assigned the task to Zaka.

However, it wasn't only Zaka personnel who caused problems. An officer in the Military Rabbinate's search unit said that initially, his personnel also failed to record where each body was taken from, which further delayed identification.

"At first, it wasn't possible to document [everything] because the workload and the pressure were immense," he says. "But we worked systematically, and later we were asked to do a retrospective reconstruction of our work."

Later, when bags from the military arrived, the difference was obvious, says a volunteer who worked at the base. "It was obvious that more thorough work was done there," they say.

Home Front Command soldiers and volunteers from other organizations described negligent work by Zaka in other aspects as well. According to them, on numerous occasions, they approached vehicles and houses with a Zaka sticker stating that the place had been cleared of body parts when that wasn't the case.

Body removal in Ofakim on October 8. Hundreds of Zaka volunteers did important work by collecting remains under difficult conditions.Credit: Ilan Assayag

"Zaka took part of a body and left the other part in the same house," says a volunteer at Shura. Someone who toured the kibbutzim of the area with Zaka said that, together with members of the organization, he entered houses that had been labeled as cleared, yet he saw human remains in them.

There are more examples. In the parking lot that was set up in the moshav of Tkuma, where vehicles that were damaged in massacres on roads and near the music festival in Re'im, uncollected body parts were found. "We found parts of bones and other parts there," a Home Front Command soldier says. "A lot of people here are angry, [asking,] 'Why did you train us for this, and on the day of reckoning, you didn't let us do the job?"

Even when the soldiers began working, during the second week of the war, they were sent to collect the bodies of terrorists and transport them to the Sde Teiman base in Be'er Sheva. They were also tasked with handling the scenes of attacks on military facilities.

Zaka personnel handle a destroyed vehicle after the Hamas attacks. According to a soldier, remains were found that Zaka had failed to locate. Credit: Zaka

"We asked the commanders why they weren't letting us enter, and each time we got a different answer," says a soldier. "One time they told us, 'You've been trained for earthquakes.' Another time, they said they didn't want to risk the lives of soldiers, and yet another time they explained to us that the commanding general gave [the mission] to the IDF's national rescue team, one of whose members is also a senior member of Zaka."

He adds: "Had we worked the way they taught us, we could have spared many people unnecessary suffering [and] bring [the victims] to burial much sooner." Several Zaka volunteers admitted to Haaretz that the work would have been better, faster, and more precise had the soldiers worked alongside them.

The power of the vest

Throughout the first days of the war and afterward, uniformed soldiers from the Home Front Command appeared repeatedly in the media. But over their uniforms, they wore non-IDF vests on which the name "Zaka" was emblazoned. Military officers who were informed about this blaring detail could not account for it.

Haim Outmezgine, head of Zaka's "special forces," serves in the reserves in the Home Front Command's rescue unit and is one of the senior officials who appeared in this outfit frequently – and not only on the screen. Toward the end of October, with the organization's members still working in the kibbutzim, he starred in a staged, elaborate music video in which he was recorded out in the field.

The Shura military base, where bodies were gathered for identification purposes, in October. A volunteer says that in one case, Zaka collected part of a body and left the rest at the scene. Credit: Naama Grynbaum

In the video, he and his son sing a song he wrote himself. The video is accompanied by subtitles that aim to tug at the heartstrings as well as the pocket.

"Hundreds of Zaka volunteers left behind a supportive family and went out devotedly, and were exposed to the terrible atrocities that took place in the south, and they return home with a sack overflowing with emotions. You are welcome to salute them," reads the video description, alongside a link for donations.

Speaking with Haaretz, Outmezgine said that he produced the music video privately and that the organization later decided to use it for the fundraising campaign. He said that filming and producing the music video did not take much time: "I wrote it on Friday, I recorded it in the studio on Saturday night, and a day or two later the music video was filmed."

Outmezgine wasn't just part of Zaka Jerusalem's media campaign. According to some sources, he also played a central role in the association between the organization and the IDF and was in command of several sites starting from the evening of the attacks – mainly in the area of the party in Re'im, Kfar Aza, and Be'eri. About a month after the start of the war, Outmezgine blocked a volunteer from a rival organization from entering Be'eri, even though the volunteer had received orders from an officer.

Last edited 7:38 AM · Nov 3, 2023

Outmezgine confirmed that he blocked him, saying he had thought he was an impostor. A source at Zaka Tel Aviv (another competitor) also said that members were blocked by Zaka officers when they tried to reach the area. "They specifically told us that Haim [Outmezgine] said they didn't need us there," says the source.

This raises the question: What is the relationship between the Home Front Command's rescue unit and Zaka Jerusalem? The answer, it appears, is Outmezgine, who is not only a reservist in the unit but also considered very close to its commanders.

A Zaka volunteer who is closely acquainted with him says it was Outmezgine who was behind the unit taking command of the attack sites – and behind the use of Zaka. "He is the one who has the power to tell the commanders, 'This is our case,'" says the volunteer. He adds with a half-smile: "The other volunteers couldn't enter because it's a closed military zone."

A house in Kfar Azza about a month after it was burned on October 7. Some Zaka volunteers admit the work would have gone better had they worked alongside the military.Credit: Eyal Toueg

Outmezgine describes the matter similarly. "I understood that we were in a race against time," he said in an interview with Arutz Sheva, a settler radio station. "I called my commander, Col. Golan Vach, and I said that this was our mission."

Indeed, the Home Front Command officially took control of the attack areas, and its operational arm, especially during the first week, was Zaka. Outmezgine says an agreement exists between the IDF and Zaka that allows the operation of the organization in the field.

A clue to Outmezgine's personal operating procedures may be found in at least one incident in which he took a bag of materials collected at an attack scene and brought its contents to the courtyard of his home for "private examination." Military sources who were informed of this saw it as a grave matter and couldn't say who had authorized it. Outmezgine, for his part, says this was a one-off incident that he's proud of. "That was a bag with garbage that I could have left in the field, but I took responsibility," he says.

Historical rivalry

Generally, conflict between organizations working to gather human remains from the sites of attacks, accidents, and disasters in Israel is nothing new. Neither is what stands behind it: money, and a lot of it. Tens of millions of shekels are allocated to this mission through donations and financial support from the state.

Today, there are three main organizations in the field: Zaka Jerusalem, Zaka Tel Aviv, and the 360 Unit organization. Over the years, competition between them has caused more than a few problems in operations – for example, distributing graphic photos that failed to respect the dignity of the deceased. This reached the point that two years ago, the police introduced a new directive on the procedure for collecting remains to regulate the process.

According to the procedure, only those who volunteer with the police and wear a police vest are allowed to work at the scene of an incident. As part of this regulation, volunteers are required to undergo training, are subject to a clear hierarchy with the police, are prohibited from being interviewed without authorization, and are barred from releasing details or images from the scenes.

It appears that all the rules have been broken since October 7. Videos and graphic photos from the horrific sites filled Zaka Jerusalem's social media accounts: rows of bodies in bags, bloodstains, and much more. These posts had a common denominator: pleas for fundraising.

The timing was critical. Before October 7, the organization faced insolvency. In the time since, says a source at Zaka, they have raised over 50 million shekels ($13.7 million).

Haim Outmezgine receives a commendation from the IDF in 2022. He says there is an agreement between Zaka and the military allowing it to work. Credit: Zaka

Meanwhile, throughout the duration of the war, and despite the race against time to collect bodies, volunteers from the organization have arranged private tours for donors. Civilians, however, haven't been allowed to enter the border areas, defined as closed military zones.

Someone who organized such a tour says a senior Zaka volunteer organized it and took the participants into Be'eri. "He met us at a nearby gas station, gave us and the donors Zaka vests, and that's how we entered, with two vehicles," he says. Haaretz has obtained a recording in which a Zaka volunteer coordinates a similar tour.

Zaka says all the tours were coordinated with the relevant authorities and were done with permission. "Many donors request guidance and explanation from Zaka personnel in order to connect to the terrible disaster," read a statement from the organization.

"The Zaka organization was asked by the National Information Directorate [in the Prime Minister's Office] to take part in informational activity for both donors and opinion leaders worldwide and sees these tours as part of the country's efforts to achieve victory in public opinion, too. The Zaka organization also accompanies donor tours for the benefit of the kibbutzim and their reconstruction, seeing it as a privilege and an honor."

The fundraising issue

The fundraising started on October 8. A tweet on the organization's account the day after the attacks in the south read: "Our volunteers in the field are surrounded by slain bodies and artillery fire and urgently need protection and equipment." The statement was, of course, true – Zaka personnel did indeed work under fire, needed additional equipment, and were surrounded by bodies.

Although raising funds for an organization is a completely legitimate act, its timing and how it was done raise concerns. These concerns are certainly not diminished by the fact that Zaka hired the services of a public relations office that, already in the first weeks of the war, accompanied and photographed the volunteers.

Volunteers from the 360 Unit and Zaka organizations on October 7. The rivalry between organizations has caused problems for years.

From the second week of the war, Zaka began to be paid by the Defense Ministry, alongside the appeals for public donations. An agreement had been reached between the ministry and the organization, according to which Zaka would receive 500,000 shekels for cleaning houses, vehicles, and public bomb shelters damaged in the attacks.

According to the ministry, the organization committed to cleaning 500 structures. Zaka says that this payment financed only part of the expenses and that "it is a unique assignment that required the purchase of dedicated equipment for the sake of the mission… [and] the transportation and mobilization of hundreds of volunteers."

The fundraising campaign has continued to escalate. An October 29 post on X showed family photos stained with blood from one of the scenes, along with the caption: "The voice of my brothers' blood cries out to me from the ground."

This was just part of the activity that went on while many body parts still awaited identification and burial, a process that was mostly completed only about 50 days after the start of the war. Even now, findings and body parts are still being discovered.

7:29 AM · Oct 8, 2023

At the attack scenes, the question was not only what to photograph but also what exactly to show. In some cases, volunteers from Zaka were seen wrapping bodies already wrapped in IDF bags. The new bag prominently displayed the Zaka logo.

"We wrapped the body in a body bag, and a few minutes later, a Zaka team arrived," a volunteer from another organization says. "The team leader, a senior member of the organization, wrapped the body in a Zaka bag. Why did they do that? Everyone knows that there are public relations matters here."

Several officers and volunteers who worked at the Shura base told Haaretz that many bodies arrived wrapped in two bags – the military one and a Zaka one covering it. According to an officer in the Military Rabbinate, this was the case for dozens of bodies, which complicated the work.

"The second we saw a Zaka bag, we transferred the body to the civilian unit at Shura," he says, "but they would open it there and would then have to transfer it to the military unit." According to Outmezgine, these actions were taken because the military bags were defective. Officers in the Military Rabbinate denied that there were problems with IDF's bags. "It's interesting that we didn't have any problems," they said.

It's not unprecedented for Zaka personnel to have switched bags or added their own. Haaretz has a string of documentation and accounts of similar activities by the organization's volunteers who arrive at the scene of a murder, accident, or suicide. Zaka denied the claim of changing or covering bags and said that double bags had been used only when the first one was damaged.

Tales of imagination

"We saw a woman, around 30 years old, [and] she was lying on the floor in a large puddle of blood, facing the ground," said a Zaka volunteer tearfully in an account posted on Zaka's social media accounts. "We turned her over in order to place her into the bag.

"She was pregnant," he added and stopped to take a breath. "Her stomach was swollen, and the baby was still attached by the umbilical cord when it was stabbed, and she was shot in the back of the head. I don't know if she suffered and saw her baby murdered or not."

6:36 AM · Oct 29, 2023

This horrific incident, which the Zaka volunteer alleged occurred in Be'eri, simply didn't happen, and was one of several stories that have been circulated without any basis. There is no evidence for this incident, and no one in the kibbutz has heard of this woman. A Zaka senior official admitted in a conversation with Haaretz that the organization knows the incident didn't occur.

In another video, which features the same volunteer, he describes, weeping, how he found the burnt and mutilated bodies of 20 children in one of the kibbutzim. He told Haaretz that this was behind the dining hall in Kfar Azza, while in another instance, he said it was in Be'eri.

However, the children who were killed in Kfar Azza are Yiftach Kutz, 14, and his brother, Yonatan, 16. Ten children were killed in Be'eri, but at least some were known to have been with a parent and were killed in their homes.

The organization has been accused of spreading false information before. In December 2022, Haaretz reported that Zaka had inflated its stated number of volunteers for years in order to receive more funding.

In response to a request for comment, Zaka said: "Collaboration between Zaka and emergency agencies takes place in usual times and in emergencies, based on the coordination of expectations and early planning. Zaka volunteers operated in close and full coordination with the responsible bodies in the field. Collaboration is not a conflict of interests but a joint effort.

"Zaka is a voluntary organization funded by donations, and the war has led Zaka to have massive expenditures for equipment and supplies," the organization continued. "The presence of Zaka personnel on the front lines … provided an opportunity for the public to be shown the organization's activities, which are also carried out during non-emergency times, privately."

Body retrieval in Be'eri. Zaka volunteers have organized private tours for donors while the site is a closed military zone. Credit: Zaka

For its part, the military said in response to a request for comment: "Following the events of October 7, an operational system was established, headed by an officer with the rank of colonel, to lead the search and retrieval mission in the Gaza border region. Due to the complexity of the mission and the scope of the casualties, the Defense Ministry contacted Zaka to receive assistance and reinforcements for this mission.

"Among the units that participated in the military effort was the search unit of the Military Rabbinical Corps. [Home Front Command] units were recruited in full in the first two weeks of the war. The IDF will conduct a detailed and thorough investigation, including regarding the mobilization of personnel, to clarify the details completely when the operational situation permits and will publish its findings to the public."
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Re: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

Postby admin » Thu Feb 08, 2024 5:06 am

Family of key case in New York Times October 7 sexual violence report renounces story, says reporters manipulated them. A New York Times story claiming a pattern of gender-based violence on October 7 hinged on the story of Gal Abdush. But the Abdush family says there is no proof she was raped, and that Times reporters interviewed them under false pretenses.
by the Short String
January 3, 2024



On December 28, the New York Times published an “investigative” report on gender-based violence allegedly committed by Palestinians during the October 7 attack. The newspaper says the story was based on over 150 interviews conducted by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Jeffrey Gettleman, along with Anat Schwartz and Adam Sella. The story concludes that Hamas fighters engaged in systematic rape and sexual violence against Israeli women.

The story itself repeats October 7 testimonies that have been previously published and already debunked and discredited, but the Times investigation hinges predominantly on one central story, the story of the rape of “Gal Abdush,” who is described by the Times as “The Woman in the Black Dress.”

Although claiming its story proves that “the attacks against women were not isolated events but part of a broader pattern of gender-based violence on Oct. 7” the veracity of the New York Times story was undermined almost as soon as it was published, including from the Abdush family itself who says there is no proof Gal Abdush was raped and that the New York Times interviewed them under false pretenses.

The New York Times version of events

A heartbreaking photo of Gal Abdush’s family — a working-class Mizrahi Jewish family who lost their daughter and son-in-law, Nagi Abdush — appeared on the newspaper’s cover. The newspaper devoted a third of its report to the Abdush story. The report centered around a video that was captured on October 8 by a woman called Eden Wessely, which was published on her social media accounts. According to the Times, “The video went viral, with thousands of people responding, desperate to know if the woman in the black dress was their missing friend, sister or daughter.” The newspaper did not link to the video but released a distant, indistinct image from it that revealed nothing. It’s unclear how the Times confirmed the existence of these responses since Wessely’s Instagram account has been banned, and she created a new account in mid-December.

The newspaper narrates the tragedy of the family, how they learned about their daughter’s fate, and how the video and their daughter became known as “the woman in the black dress.” The Times states that her husband, Nagi Abdush, who was also killed, sent his last message at precisely 7:44 a.m., asking the family to take care of their children. What the newspaper omitted, and the family later confirmed, is that the husband contacted them at 7:00 a.m. and reported his wife’s death.

The Times says the family saw the video recording and “feared that she might have been raped” based on the body’s condition. The Times also states that the Israeli police used the video as evidence that rape occurred: “The videos caught the eye of Israeli officials as well — very quickly after Oct. 7 they began gathering evidence of atrocities. They included footage of Ms. Abdush’s body in a presentation made to foreign governments and media organizations, using Ms. Abdush as a representation of violence committed against women that day.”

There is currently no trace of the video on the internet despite the Times claim that it “went viral.” Moreover, the Israeli press, despite reporting on hundreds of stories about the October 7 victims, never mentioned “the woman in the black dress” even once previous to the December 28 story. It does not appear that the video had, in fact, become the widely circulated symbol the Times claimed it had. But regardless, within a day of the report being published, facts that undermined the Times story began to emerge.

‘The media invented it’

On December 29, the Israeli website ‘YNET’ published an interview with Etti Brakha, Gal Abdush’s mother. In the interview, the mother says that the family knew nothing about the sexual assault issue until the piece in the Times was published: “We didn’t know about the rape at all. We only knew after a New York Times journalist contacted us. They said they matched evidence and concluded that she had been sexually assaulted.”

Then, on January 1, Nissim Abdush, Nagi’s brother, appeared in an interview on Israeli Channel 13. During the 14-minute interview, Nissim repeatedly denied that his sister-in-law was raped. He explained that his brother Nagi had called him at 7:00 in the morning, saying his wife was killed, and he was next to her body. Then, he continued to communicate until 7:44 and never mentioned anything related to sexual assault. Nissim also stated that no official party informed them of these doubts or this investigation, neither the police nor forensic experts. In the interview, Abdush reiterated that his brother’s wife was not raped and that “the media invented it.”

Gal’s sisters also denied allegations of rape. Her sister, Tali Barakha, posted on Instagram, “No one can know what Gal went through there! Also, what Nagi went through, but I can’t cooperate with those who say many things that are not true. I plead with you to stop spreading lies, there is a family and children behind them, no one can know if there was rape or if she was burned while alive. Have you gone mad? I spoke to Nagi personally! At 7 o’clock, Gal was killed by those animals, and they shot her in the heart. Nagi was alive until quarter past eight…”

Tali Barakha Instagram post.

Likewise, Miral Altar, Gals’ sister, wrote a comment on Instagram in response to a video of a hasbara account. Altar said, “I can’t understand all these reports. There were many difficult stories, why this story in particular? It’s based on only one video published without the family’s knowledge…It is true that the scenes in the video are not easy, but it’s clear that the dress is lifted upwards and not in its natural state, and half her head is burned because they threw a grenade at the car. I don’t want to be understood as if I’m justifying what they did; they are animals, they raped and beheaded people, but in my sister’s case, this is not true. At 6:51, Gal sent us a message on WhatsApp saying ‘we are at the border, and you can’t imagine sounds of explosions around us.’ At 7 o’clock, my brother-in-law called his brother and said they shot Gal and she’s dying. It doesn’t make any sense that in four minutes, they raped her, slaughtered her, and burned her?”

Miral Altar Instagram comment

Other comments from Abdush family friends and relatives (whose relationships have been confirmed through social media connections) also suggest that the “Woman in the Black Dress” video itself lacks enough information to support the claim of rape.

Shiran Maluka, Miral’s friend, wrote: “Based on what does Eden Wessely conclude that she was raped? Based on the video she took, there is no evidence, it’s not true that half of her body was burned, only her face, and there is nothing but a dress pulled up.” Another friend, Almog Peretz Hemo, wrote a similar comment.

Many of the comments from those in and around the Abdush family point to the role of Eden Wessely in pushing the rape allegations. Although Wessely’s quotes in the Times didn’t contain a graphic description, her following statements to the Israeli media were very explicit and clearly stated that Abdush was raped, burned, and murdered. Those pushed back on the story seem to believe that it was, in fact, Eden Wessely’s testimony and personal interpretation that initially raised these allegations of sexual violence rather than the video itself. They argue that Wessely’s testimony is inaccurate, and does not match with what’s seen in the video.

A look at Eden Wessely’s Facebook account reveals extreme right-wing opinions.

For example, in the early days of the war, Wessely posted fake news, debunked by the Israeli media, about “Israeli traitors who supported Hamas fighters during the attack on October 7th.” Wessely also shared many posts by the extreme right-wing organization, Im Tirtzu, and posts by the far-right rapper, Hatzel, considered a symbol of Israeli fascist racism. In another post, Wessely shared a picture of the Israeli human rights lawyer Lea Tsemel, calling her “the devil incarnate.”

Weaponizing ‘the woman in the black dress’

The family’s testimonies unmistakably confirm that the Israeli authorities did not have the decency to inform the family about the investigation into their family member’s rape. But, three months following her death, Israeli authorities and the Israeli police are weaponizing her case and using the death of Gal Abdush as propaganda material to garner support for and justify the genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza.

Likewise, the New York Times also joined in exploiting the family in a highly unethical manner. Despite mentioning the element of rape to the family, the Times reporters did not make clear this was the focus of the story and evidently got them to agree to participate by saying they wanted to cover the family’s tragedy. According to Abdush’s sister, Miral Alter, this is why the family agreed to speak to the reporter. As Alter explains in the Instagram comment above, the Times reporters “mentioned they want to write a report in memory of Gal, and that’s it. If we knew that the title would be about rape and butchery, we’d never accept that.”

In the end, it appears that the New York Times manipulated a working-class Mizrahi family in the service of Israeli hasbara in order to score a journalistic achievement, which in reality is nothing more than a repetition of fake news and government propaganda.

Editor’s note: this article was edited for minor typographical errors on January 30, 2024.
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Re: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

Postby admin » Thu Feb 08, 2024 5:16 am

New York Times Puts "Daily" Episode On Ice Amid Internal Firestorm Over Hamas Sexual Violence Article. As the Times faces scrutiny for its coverage of Israel’s war on Gaza, it has capitulated to the pro-Israel media watchdog CAMERA.
by Daniel Boguslaw, Ryan Grim
The Intercept
January 28 2024, 8:00 p.m.

THE NEW YORK Times pulled a high-profile episode of its podcast “The Daily” about sexual violence perpetrated by Hamas on October 7 amid a furious internal debate about the strength of the paper’s original reporting on the subject, Times newsroom sources told The Intercept. The episode had been scheduled for January 9 and was based on a prominent article led by Pulitzer Prize-winner Jeffrey Gettleman, claiming that Hamas had systematically used sexual violence as a weapon of war.

The Times report was initially heralded in an email sent to the newsroom, conveying praise from Executive Editor Joe Kahn, who described the story as an example of the best kind of enterprise reporting the paper is capable of.

In the past couple of weeks, as the year drew to a close and many of us were on holiday, we published several signature pieces of enterprise on the Israel-Hamas war from different teams in the newsroom. Joe spotlighted some of them:

Jeffrey Gettleman, Anat Schwartz and Adam Sella spent several weeks and conducted 150 interviews to report on how Hamas weaponized sexual violence during the October 7th attack. The topic is a highly politicized issue and a delicate one to report, and Joe noted how the team, including photographs by Avishag Shaar-Yashuv, did it in a sensitive and detailed way.

But that message came roughly at the same time as another staff missive urging Times employees not to criticize each other on the company’s internal Slack. Many reporters and editors understood that directive to be a reference to an intense internal debate unfolding over the story — a rolling fight that is revived on a near-daily basis over the tenor of Times coverage of the war in Gaza. (A Times spokesperson, Charlie Stadtlander, said those assumptions were inaccurate, and that the email was “a release of a company-wide policy, the deliberate and measured development of which began in the beginning of 2023.”)

As criticism of Gettleman’s story grew both internally and externally, producers at “The Daily” shelved the original script and paused the episode, according to newsroom sources familiar with the process. A new script was drafted, one that offered major caveats, allowed for uncertainty, and asked open-ended questions that were absent from the original article, which presented its findings as definitive evidence of the systematic use of sexual violence as a weapon of war.

That new draft remains the subject of significant controversy and has yet to be aired on the flagship podcast. The producers and the paper of record find themselves in a jam: run a version that hews closely to the previously published story and risk republishing serious mistakes, or publish a heavily toned-down version, raising questions about whether the paper still stands by the original report. Meanwhile, sources at the Times say Gettleman has been assigned a follow-up to gather evidence supporting his original reporting. (On January 29, he and his co-reporters published a follow-up story addressing questions raised “on social media by critics” about Times sourcing on claims of sexual violence.)

Internal critics worry that the article is another “Caliphate”-level journalistic debacle. “There seems to be no self-awareness at the top,” said one frustrated Times editorial staffer. “The story deserved more fact-checking and much more reporting. All basic standards applied to countless other stories.”

The critics have highlighted major discrepancies in the accounts presented in the Times, subsequent public comments from the family of a major subject of the article denouncing it, and comments from a key witness seeming to contradict a claim attributed to him in the article.

Stadtlander said the paper doesn’t comment on ongoing reporting and, that no piece of its journalism is final until it’s been published:

As a general matter of policy, we do not comment on the specifics of what may or may not publish in The New York Times or our audio programs. Just like our print report, The Times’s audio editorial process is a result of independent consideration of newsworthy topics, and not in response to any criticisms. The Daily’s production team is constantly looking at the scope of The Times’s news report, with many efforts in various stages of development at any given time. There is only one “version” of any piece of audio journalism: the one that publishes.

The dissent within the Times comes as the paper is also facing serious external scrutiny for its coverage of Israel’s war on Gaza. Since October 7, the New York Times has shown deference to Israel Defense Forces sources while diminishing the scale of death and destruction in Palestine. An Intercept analysis found that in the first six weeks of the war, the New York Times, alongside other major publications, consistently delegitimized Palestinian deaths and cultivated “a gross imbalance” in coverage to pro-Israeli sources and voices. The paper’s coverage of South Africa’s charges of genocide at the International Court of Justice played down severity of the case at the outset and downplayed Israel’s defeat on Friday. Just last week, the Times ran a headline touting the “Decline in Deaths in Gaza,” even as Israel continues to kill Palestinians in shocking numbers on a daily basis.

“Since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war, The Times’s journalists have reported with sensitivity, independence and unflinching detail on destructive events that have generated strong reactions, including the piece of journalism from Dec. 28 about allegations of sexual violence committed by Hamas,” the Times spokesperson wrote. “We continue to report on this matter as part of our broader coverage of the conflict, capturing both the global implications and deeply personal stories of those affected by the ongoing fighting.”

New York Times leadership has long taken a reflexively pro-Israel stance, and it is no surprise that the paper’s coverage has not been swayed by the criticism. Yet it’s done more than double down on its existing reporting: The Times has also succumbed to pressure campaigns by a pro-Israel media watchdog to change or soften its coverage of Israel.

Executive editor of the New York Times, Joe Kahn, during an interview session at the annual Texas Tribune Festival in Austin, Texas, on Sept. 24, 2022. Photo: Alamy

Pressure From CAMERA

The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis, or CAMERA, was founded in 1982 in response to what it claims was anti-Israel bias in the Washington Post’s reporting on the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Since its inception, CAMERA has successfully lobbied for hundreds of corrections in major media outlets, seeking to streamline a pro-Israel line in news reports and editorials. It has smeared journalists whose work it disagrees with and launched boycott campaigns against news organizations it believes are not responding with enough deference to its requests.

In the past few months, the group has forced at least two changes in the New York Times, which sometimes responds to CAMERA with quiet edits and sometimes with formal corrections. The Times removed the use of the term “occupation” from a description of Israeli military forces and made a correction to language describing Palestinian deaths in Gaza.

Emblematic of CAMERA’s influence at the Times is the fact that Kahn’s father, Leo Kahn, was a longtime member of CAMERA’s board — though before Kahn rose to prominence at the paper. By the time Leo Kahn joined the group as a board member in 1990, it was already famous for its aggressive pursuit of corrections and wording changes in the media to reflect a more pro-Israel stance. And, according to the Times’s profile of Kahn when he was elevated to his current post in 2022, he and his father often “dissected newspaper coverage” together.

CAMERA, which boasts more than 65,000 members, campaigns against coverage in a wide variety of U.S. news outlets, but it has been particularly aggressive in its targeting of the paper of record. For over a decade, CAMERA has paid for billboards across the street from the Times headquarters criticizing the paper for its allegedly biased coverage. At times, it has even used its billboards to equate the paper of record with Hamas. All that pressure has had an impact. Dating back to 2000, CAMERA’s website records dozens of successful corrections issued by Times editors after concerted harassment campaigns.

Kahn began his career at the Times in 1998 after making a name for himself as a China correspondent for the Wall Street Journal. He reported on Wall Street for the Times before returning to China, where he won a Pulitzer Prize for reporting on China’s legal system. In 2008, Kahn returned stateside to work for the Times as a foreign editor, quickly rising to oversee the entire foreign desk by 2011, where he managed all aspects of foreign reporting, including the Middle East. In 2016, he was promoted to managing editor before finally ascending to the newspaper’s top role in 2022.

Leo Kahn studied journalism at Columbia University before building his fortune as a business owner. He was a co-founder of Staples and multiple New England grocery chains, in addition to a brief stint as a co-owner of SuperOffice, a major office supplies retailer in Israel. As late as 2008, the year Joe Kahn was promoted to editor on the foreign desk, Leo Kahn was listed on CAMERA’s board of directors.

Stadtlander, the New York Times spokesperson, denied that CAMERA gets special treatment. “The Times handles all requests for correction from outside sources through discussion among our Standards team and the relevant editors familiar with the reporting in question. Feedback from any group, including CAMERA, is not treated any differently nor would it warrant any unique involvement from masthead editors,” he wrote in an email to The Intercept. “Joe Kahn has worked at The Times for more than 25 years, during which time he had — and still has — no relationship whatsoever with CAMERA. His father’s role on their board ended before Joe held any editing role at The Times.”

The Times’s record of acquiescing to CAMERA’s relentless requests, however, is striking in contrast to its historic resistance to correcting its stories.

“It has always been extremely difficult to get corrections placed in the Times, and it’s even harder since they got rid of their public editor, which was a way of taking complaints to a person whose job it was to respond,” Jim Naureckas, senior editor at the media oversight organization Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, told The Intercept. “You didn’t need to have a friend inside because you had a person whose job it was to take your complaint. With that position gone, it’s much more of a black box. It’s hard to get a hearing for your complaint. You can send an email, but it’s often like dropping a stone down a well. You might hear a splash, or you might not.”

CAMERA did not respond to a request for comment.

While there is no evidence that Kahn himself has changed the paper’s overall handling of requests from CAMERA, between 2011 and 2016, when Kahn oversaw the foreign desk, CAMERA successfully initiated more than a dozen corrections on issues ranging from Israeli settlements to the blockade of Gaza. And in 2012, he quickly made a minor, but telling, correction at the group’s request, according to CAMERA’s website.

In March 2012, the New York Times published an article interrogating the way the Arab Spring uprisings had undermined support and attention to the plight of Palestinians. The piece drew CAMERA’s attention because it included a photograph depicting Israel Defense Forces soldiers firing on Palestinians, and the photo caption did not specify that they were using rubber bullets. While rubber bullets are less deadly than live ammunition, they can result in serious injury and even death.

According to CAMERA’s account, they quickly notified Kahn, then an international desk editor, who “agreed the caption needed correcting.” The Times soon issued a correction: “A picture caption on Thursday with an article about the increasing marginalization being felt by Palestinians in the West Bank referred incompletely to the action of the Israeli soldiers shown. While the soldiers, whose activity was not recounted in the article, were indeed firing rifles at stone throwers in the West Bank town of Al Ram last month, the rifles contained rubber bullets.”

A Softer Tone

Long before the Hamas attack on October 7, critics have voiced concerns over the New York Times’s approach to covering Israel, as well as family connections between New York Times employees and the Israel Defense Forces. Over the past 20 years, the children of three Times reporters enlisted in the IDF while the parents covered issues related to the Israel–Palestine conflict. In addition, Times Israel reporter Isabel Kershner was scrutinized for citing work from an Israeli security think tank where her husband worked, without disclosing the connection.

CAMERA’s criticism, meanwhile, comes from the perspective that the Times is not sufficiently deferential to Israel. Taken together, many of the changes the Times has made following lobbying by CAMERA do not fundamentally alter the premise of the reporting. With some exceptions, they instead alter the tone and tenor of the reports, steering coverage toward CAMERA’s preferred perspective.

Over the past few years, the Times made a CAMERA-inspired change to an article describing Jesus as living in Palestine, a change to an article that failed to describe the Western Wall as the holiest site in Judaism, and a correction for conflating property seizure with violence.

CAMERA scored an editor’s note for an article on Gaza’s ailing fishing industry in 2022 that omitted certain statistics about the annual catch of Gaza fishermen operating under Israel’s yearslong blockade.

The group secured one of its most substantial changes in 2021, when Kahn was serving as managing editor. In response to a demand by CAMERA, the Times appended a lengthy explanatory editor’s note to the top of an article, a type of alteration that almost always has to pass through a member of the masthead leadership.

The article in question was a profile of the celebrated Palestinian poet Refaat Alareer. According to CAMERA, the piece, written by correspondent Patrick Kingsley, described Alareer in too positive a light. The Times was quick to agree, appending a 267-word note that described comments that Alareer had made about Israeli poetry in 2019, when he took a tone much more critical of Israeli literature than he had in Kingsley’s presence. The note concluded:

In light of this additional information, editors have concluded that the article did not accurately reflect Mr. Alareer’s views on Israeli poetry or how he teaches it. Had The Times done more extensive reporting on Mr. Alareer, the article would have presented a more complete picture.

Almost exactly two years later, Alareer was killed in what the human rights group Euro-Med Monitor deemed a targeted strike by the Israeli Defense Forces. He had received direct threats by phone before his apartment was bombed. Pinned to his Twitter profile was a post with his now-famous poem: “If I must die, let it be a tale.”

Update: January 30, 2024
This article was updated to note that on January 29, the New York Times published a follow-up story about claims of sexual violence by Hamas.
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Re: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

Postby admin » Thu Feb 08, 2024 5:45 am

The Black Time
by Ronen Bergman and Yoav Zitun
Published by Yedioth Ahronoth’s weekend supplement 7 Days,
12 January 2024.



Translation by Dena Shunra for The Electronic Intifada, based on the print edition.

On the morning of October 7th some of the most impressive tales of heroism and self-sacrifice in the history of the country were written, but so too was a long series of failures, mishaps, and chaos in the army. This 7 Days investigation sketches the first hours of the Black Sabbath and exposes: the command bunker underneath the Kirya [in Tel Aviv] were in the blind and had to obtain their updates from the Hamas Telegram channels. The Southern Command published antiquated and irrelevant orders. The IDF decided to apply a directive similar to the Hannibal Directive, in the course of which they also shot at vehicles that may have been carrying captives. Commando fighters went out into the field without sights on their weapons and without bullet-proof vests. And that’s only the beginning. The IDF Spokesman: “The IDF will conduct a detailed in-depth investigation.”

* * *

On the night of October 7th, while Hamas was already doing last minute preparations for the attack planned for the morning, senior figures in the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) and the IDF were having a few conference calls. The main reason for these calls was that a short time after midnight, the Israeli intelligence community started picking up some significant indications. These indications came after some earlier indications that had started blinking in the days and weeks beforehand.

The problem with these indications was that none of them constituted a clear alert for war
: they might mean battle footing, but they also might mean training that simulates battle footing. Some of these signals had already been received in the past, and had indeed led to training maneuvers.

But the accumulation of all of these together evoked a certain degree of concern in the high echelons of the security apparatus, and the heads of the military and the Shin Bet called each other for consultation. The head of the Shin Bet, Ronen Bar, came to its headquarters in person, and the Commander of the Southern Command abandoned a weekend getaway and started driving south. At around three or four in the morning, Bar instructed the Tequila Squad, a special intervention force of the Shin Bet and the Yamam counter terror unit, to head south. This was a highly exceptional step, meant for a scenario of an infiltration by several individual squads of terrorists via one or two breakthrough points for the purpose of murdering or capturing citizens and soldiers.
Le Nouvel Observateur: Former CIA director Robert Gates states in his memoirs: The American secret services began six months before the Soviet intervention to support the Mujahideen [in Afghanistan]. At that time you were president Carter's security advisor; thus you played a key role in this affair. Do you confirm this statement?

Zbigniew Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version, the CIA's support for the Mujahideen began in 1980, i.e. after the Soviet army's invasion of Afghanistan on 24 December 1979. But the reality, which was kept secret until today, is completely different: Actually it was on 3 July 1979 that president Carter signed the first directive for the secret support of the opposition against the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul.
And on the same day I wrote a note, in which I explained to the president that this support would in my opinion lead to a military intervention by the Soviets.

Le Nouvel Observateur: Despite this risk you were a supporter of this covert action? But perhaps you expected the Soviets to enter this war and tried to provoke it?

Zbigniew Brzezinski: It's not exactly like that. We didn't push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would do it.

Le Nouvel Observateur: When the Soviets justified their intervention with the statement that they were fighting against a secret US interference in Afghanistan, nobody believed them. Nevertheless there was a core of truth to this...Do you regret nothing today?

Zbigniew Brzezinski: Regret what? This secret operation was an excellent idea. It lured the Russians into the Afghan trap, and you would like me to regret that? On the day when the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote president Carter, in essence: "We now have the opportunity to provide the USSR with their Viet Nam war." Indeed for ten years Moscow had to conduct a war that was intolerable for the regime, a conflict which involved the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet Empire.

Le Nouvel Observateur: And also, don't you regret having helped future terrorists, having given them weapons and advice?

Zbigniew Brzezinski: What is most important for world history? The Taliban or the fall of the Soviet Empire? Some Islamic hotheads or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

Le Nouvel Observateur: "Some hotheads?" But it has been said time and time again: today Islamic fundamentalism represents a world-wide threat...

Zbigniew Brzezinski: Rubbish! It's said that the West has a global policy regarding Islam. That's hogwash: there is no global Islam. Let's look at Islam in a rational and not a demagogic or emotional way. It is the first world religion with 1.5 billion adherents. But what is there in common between fundamentalist Saudi Arabia, moderate Morocco, militaristic Pakistan, pro-Western Egypt and secularized Central Asia? Nothing more than that which connects the Christian countries...

-- Zbigniew Brzezinksi's Interview with Le Nouvel Observateur, by Le Nouvel Observateur

The Afghan mujahideen were backed primarily by Pakistan, the United States, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom.

-- Soviet–Afghan War, by Wikipedia

Two months before September 11 Osama bin Laden flew to Dubai for 10 days for treatment at the American hospital, where he was visited by the local CIA agent...

Intelligence sources say that another CIA agent was also present; and that Bin Laden was also visited by Prince Turki al Faisal, then head of Saudi intelligence, who had long had links with the Taliban, and Bin Laden....

The American hospital in Dubai emphatically denied that Bin Laden was a patient there.

Washington last night also denied the story.

Private planes owned by rich princes in the Gulf fly frequently between Quetta and the Emirates, often on luxurious "hunting trips" in territories sympathetic to Bin Laden. Other sources confirm that these hunting trips have provided opportunities for Saudi contacts with the Taliban and terrorists, since they first began in 1994....[or 1979?]

-- CIA Agent Alleged to Have Met Bin Laden in July [2001, and Prince Turki al Faisal, Long-linked to Bin Laden. Bin Laden later ordered Mobile Dialysis Machine Be Delivered to His Base in Kandahar.], by Anthony Sampson

But despite the concerns, a senior intelligence figure determined at 3:10 am that “we still believe that Sinwar is not pivoting towards an escalation,” in other words, this is apparently another Hamas training.

These signals also caused concern to the commander of the Gaza Division, the military unit in charge of protecting the frontline at the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, Brigadier General Avi Rosenfeld, who was the division’s commander on duty that weekend. He decided to alert his senior commanders, including the commanders of the two regional brigades – northern and southern – and the division’s intelligence office, its military engineering officer, and others. When they arrived at their command center at the Re’im base, they started taking some steps to heighten the level of alertness on the border.

According to some of the senior figures in the Southern Command, the division commander and his officers were planning to take additional steps to increase alertness in the division’s bases and outposts along the border and near the settlements that they were supposed to protect, but due to the information that had initially evoked the concerns, They were asked by figures at IDF command headquarters not to take “noisy” steps. On the other hand, other figures in the security apparatus say the division command could have taken many steps that would not have been registered on the other side.

Deep underneath the Kirya building in Tel-Aviv, in a place that is officially called Mizpeh (IDF Supreme Command Position) but which everyone just calls “the Pit,” first updates about the indications were received. Consequently, the head of the Southern Arena in the Operations Department was urgently summoned to the Pit, in order for a senior officer to be present with the authority to give significant orders. Around 4:00 am, this officer instructed the Air Force to get one more “Zik” [Elbit Hermes 450] unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) into a state of readiness. But this was an unarmed Zik, solely for reconnaissance purposes, and this step also indicated concern only about localized intrusion.

But the concerning signals kept piling up, and eventually, a few minutes before 6:30 am, a decision was made in a conversation between the Shin Bet and the IDF to call the encrypted phone of the Prime Minister’s military secretary, Major General Avi Gil, to inform him about developments and propose that the Prime Minister be woken up. Gil told the senior intelligence officer who had contacted him that he would call Netanyahu immediately, but while they were still talking, alarm sirens started to be heard around Israel. The clock at the Pit showed 6:26 am Gil and the senior intelligence officer immediately realized that given the hour and the extent of the attack, this was an event of a different order of magnitude, different and more aggressive, since Hamas knew that shooting thousands of missiles and rockets would lead to an Israeli response. None of them knew just how different and aggressive this would be.

Prime Minister Netanyahu was informed of the events while the sirens were sounding, and it was decided that he would come to the Kirya immediately. At the Pit, the following and most critical hours were very confused, shrouded in fog of war and lack of information. “An overview of the situation is the most important element for a war room like the Pit,” said a senior figure, who has spent years with products coming from the IDF command bunker. “The Pit itself was functioning and gave an almost immediate order to many forces to head out, but when you don’t know exactly where to send them or with what equipment and who and where and how large the enemy is that they will meet at the other side, you are doomed to pay dearly for your blindness.”

And indeed, no one in the Pit actually knew much at all. So there was an almost total shock in the Pit when a senior officer said a few words, the likes of which had not been heard since the “Yom Kippur” [October] War [of 1973]: “The Gaza Division was overpowered.”

Silence fell in the room that was filled with technology and giant blinking screens. “These words still give me the chills,” said a person who heard them then and there. “It is unimaginable. It’s like the Old City of Jerusalem in the War of Independence or the outposts along the Suez Canal during the Yom Kippur War. We thought that this could never happen again, and this will remain a scar burnt into our flesh forever.”

* * *

In those hours, in the burning security rooms of Nir Oz and Be’eri and in the outdoor shelters at the Re’im party, in the locked homes in Sderot and Ofakim, on blood-stained road 232, and in fact, throughout the country, one questioned echoed everywhere: where is the IDF?

And this is the question at the heart of this investigation: where was the Israel Defense Force in the first hours of the morning of October 7th?

Over the past months we have spoken to dozens of officers and commanders, some of whom hold very senior positions in the IDF. We tried to use their stories and internal security documents to sketch out what really happened in the first hours of that morning, to draw a timeline of the hours that changed the country forever.

We will say it straight away: On this Black Sabbath there was a lot of initiative, a lot of courage, a lot of self-sacrifice. Civilians, soldiers and officers, police and Shin Bet personnel leaped into battle arenas at their own initiative; they acquired weapons, received partial information, engaged in complex warfare, and sometimes gave their lives. They wrote some of the most beautiful and heroic chapters in the history of Israel. But the 7 Days investigation exposes the fact that along with these, in those same hours, some of the hardest, most embarrassing and infuriating chapters in the history of the army were also written. This includes a command chain that failed almost entirely and was entirely blindsided; orders to open fire on terrorist vehicles speeding towards Gaza even as there was a concern that they contained captives – some sort of renewed version of the Hannibal Directive; fighters who – due to lack of communications – had to direct aerial support using their cell phones; war reserve stores that sent fighters into battle with weapons that lacked gunsights and without bullet-proof vests; outdated and inappropriate orders that were copy-pasted and sent out to the battlefield; warplanes roaming the air in the critical moments of the attack without guidance; officers coming to the conclusion that there was no alternative to acquiring helicopters in a roundabout way in order to move their forces from place to place; and even unmanned aircraft operators who had to join the kibbutz WhatsApp groups in order to let besieged civilians help them to build a list of targets. And everything was so crazy, chaotic, improvised, and haphazard that you have to read it to believe that this is what actually happened. And no, we don’t have to wait for an official commission of inquiry that will surely be established and will surely deal with everything that we have laid out here: some things need to be corrected here and now.

This is what it looked like, hour by hour, on that terrible morning:


Massive shooting of missiles and rockets. The Hamas attack begins.


Other than Iron Dome, which was put into action immediately, the first military response by the IDF was to mobilize a pair of F-16I (Sufa) planes from combat squadron 107 at the Hatzerim air base, which was on interception alert that Saturday. Quite a few complaints were heard about the sparse and confused Air Force response in the morning of Black Sabbath. Some complaints are appropriate: the 7 Days investigation finds that even the force that is considered the most orderly and best organized in the IDF had a very hard time understanding the magnitude of the event, and the response given, at least in the first few hours, was partial and sparse.

On their way, the pilots and navigators of the Sufa planes saw the contrails of the many rockets on their way into Israel, but under the orders, the role of the first interceptors rising into the air is to protect strategic military and civilian assets. In the first few hours there was no one to change that order and direct the planes to the attacked regions where they were truly needed, and from 20,000 feet high it is almost impossible to identify targets without ground assistance. Thus it happened that for about 45 critical minutes, armed fighter planes flew circles in the sky without taking any action. It was only around eight o’clock, when the pilots landed and received reports from the ground, that they learned what had happened just a few kilometers away. Their frustration and rage were immense. “If they knew, they could at least have flown at low elevation in order to scare the Hamas terrorists by flying loudly over their heads,” said a senior flight squadron officer. “But they just did not know what was happening.” One way or another, these pilots took off again, with their peers, primarily in order to attack targets in Gaza.

A few minutes after the F-16 planes took off, a pair of Squadron 140 F-35 (Adir model) stealth planes took off from Nevatim base that had been on call as well. Their pilots did not know what was happening on the ground either, despite the fact that in their case, they managed to fly at a lower altitude and identify fires in the Gaza Envelope region. In response, the pilots acted in accordance with a contingency plan for attacking targets in Gaza. There was no one to tell them that these attacks were ineffective now and that they were needed somewhere completely different at this time.


Two armed Zik UAVs were taken from Squadron 161 at the Palmachim base, which was on alert that Saturday. This was in direct response to the “Code Red” sirens a few minutes after they were sounded. In the subsequent hours, the Zik operators had to improvise and operate independently. Neither they nor the Air Force Central Command were able to understand the full picture. One way or the other, as happened a lot that Saturday, officers on the ground initiated steps on their own, and the squadron did not wait for a proper order and instructed three more armed Ziks to take to the skies and go into battle.


A little before 7:00 am, the first pair of Apache helicopters was also sent to the Gaza Envelope. The two Apache gunboats belong to Flight Squadron 190, whose home base is Ramon, a 20-minute flight from the Gaza Strip. However, due to budget cuts in previous years, the helicopters were at the Ramat David base in the north near Lebanon that Saturday, a flight distance that left many minutes without air cover in the Gaza Envelope region.

In recent years, the Air Force has diluted its helicopter gunship inventory under the theory that against Iran, Israel would need more stealth planes and fewer of these “flying tanks.” October 7th is supposed to change this understanding, too.


Around 6:45 am, the first conversation was held between the Pit and a Southern Command operations officer, in which the General Staff was first informed that this was not only rocket fire but that there were also breaches of the fence, and that some of the observation infrastructure was damaged. This was one of the reasons that the Pit was left de facto blindsided: the three large observation balloons that were supposed to provide observation points towards the southern, central, and northern Gaza Strip, had fallen during the days prior to the attack. Hamas also directly targeted cameras and other observation infrastructure, among other things using “suicide UAVs.”

But it was not only the observation infrastructure that was impacted. A preliminary investigation held in the last few days about the communication capacity of the Gaza Division exposed the fact that some 40 percent of the communication sites such as towers with relay antennas that the Telecommunications Department had deployed in recent years near the Gaza Strip border were destroyed by Hamas on the morning of the invasion. Thus, the [Hamas] Nukhba Force [Editor’s note: “nukhba” is Arabic for “elite”] did not only directly damage the “see and shoot” Raphael tower systems and the observation infrastructure along the fence, but also attempted to tamper with the basic radio communication capabilities. The terrorists also placed explosive devices near the tower bases at the lower part of the antennas, places that were apparently unprotected against this type of attack. These explosions were partially successful: some of the towers fell, others just tilted.

In the Pit at the Kirya, attempts were made to obtain reports from the Gaza Division war room, but as previously mentioned, that war room was almost entirely blind, and furthermore, just before 7:00 am, a fierce attack was launched in Re’im by terrorists who had entered the Division’s Command Base. The Division’s war room was staffed and operational, but found it very difficult to fulfill its primary purposes: to receive information about the current situation on the ground, to mobilize forces accordingly, and to inform the Southern Command and the Pit at the Kirya about new developments.

The result was that a short time after the attack began, the Pit at the Kirya put into operation some permanent preliminary orders for the event of a suspected infiltration from Gaza. These procedures still reflected the thought that the attack was occurring at one or at a few spots, and that it was of limited scope. A military officer who was present at the Tel Aviv command bunker during those hours relates that it was understood in the Pit that a much more significant event was occurring than a spot infiltration, but that due to the blindness on the ground, they turned to television and to social media feeds, primarily to Telegram, to Israeli channels, but primarily to Hamas channels, which included texts, pictures, and videos of the events. From these they came to the understanding that the incident was expansive, but they still had difficulty forming an overall picture of everything that was happening. This moment, in which the Pit, the holy of holies of Israeli security, remained clueless and resorted to surfing Hamas Telegram feeds in order to understand what was happening inside the State of Israel, is a moment that will not soon be forgotten.

One may learn just how complete the mess was, for example, from the experiences of the Duvdevan fighters during those hours. On that weekend, Duvdevan was actually on alert for a hostage-taking situation, but they were doing so far away in the Judea and Samaria Region [the West Bank]. Around 7:00 am, the commander of Duvdevan, Lieutenant Colonel D, received a phone call. The call was not an official call, but rather a call from a friend, an officer at Southern Command, who told him with some alarm about what was going on in his sector. D. did not waste time and called his company from the Judea and Samaria Region and instructed them to arm themselves, get into the unit’s vehicles, and hurry toward the Gaza Envelope region. No new information arrived while they were on their way about being ambushed at road intersections, simply because there was no one to provide such information. But by sheer good luck, D. identified a Savannah vehicle of an unarmored variety belonging to the Tequila unit, which had previously been sprayed with bullets, and he halted the convoy. He instructed his people to leave all regular vehicles, converge into the armored jeeps, circumvented the intersection, and entered the battle at Kfar Azza.

They did not leave until 60 consecutive hours and dozens of killed terrorists later. Incidentally, the commander of another Duvdevan company, who was trying to find a way to get his men to the Gaza Envelope region and did not get any responses from the command, simply called a good friend in the Air Force and finagled a helicopter that would transport his men to combat at Nir Yitzchak.


The Gaza Division managed to convey a request to the Zik squadron: to attack at the Erez Crossing. The UAV operators saw unbelievable images on their screens: the crossing had become a bustling highway for terrorists. Operators told us that at least in the first two hours, their feelings were of loss of control, and in many cases they independently took decisions to attack. By the end of that accursed day, the squadron performed no fewer than 110 attacks on some 1,000 targets, most of which were inside Israel.

Throughout this entire mess, the operators were required to be on increased alert: 7 Days was informed of at least one critical instance when an officer fighting near the Nir Am kibbutz identified five terrorists on their way from a nearby grove of trees, heading toward Sderot. The officer managed to make contact with the Zik operators and directed them to the squad. The UAV operator had already locked in on the target, but from his portable at Palmachim he identified that these were not terrorists in disguise but rather five IDF soldiers, surveying the place. They were the press of a button away from a certain death.


The two Apache helicopters that had taken off from Ramat David arrived in the Be’eri region and reported to the squadron about a mess and mushroom clouds of smoke. The commander of Squadron 190, Lieutenant Colonel A, decided to call his second in command and ordered all pilots to arrive quickly from their homes, even before he was ordered to do so by the operations headquarters of the Air Force. The pair of Apache helicopters over Be’eri started to perform fire for isolation outside the kibbutzim in order to prevent the arrival of additional terrorists.

Meanwhile, the battle for the Re’im Base, where the headquarters of the Gaza Division is located, continued in full force, and dozens of terrorists were attacking the compound. The Division commander, Brigadier General Avi Rosenfeld, managed to enter the fortified war room with many of his soldiers, from where he attempted to direct both the division’s battle and the battle for the base, concurrently. According to the testimony of a female officer, Rosenfeld himself wished to leave the war room and attack. But outside, the Nukhba’s advance fire teams were everywhere. Only at 1:00 pm would fighters from “Shaldag” Unit 5101 and other units manage to reoccupy the base, with assistance of a helicopter gunship.

All this made what the IDF calls a “command and control” very difficult. If the Division Headquarters is blindsided and under attack, the Southern Command Headquarters does not receive sufficient information either, nor does the command bunker at the Kirya. The result was that commanders who had already learned from the media or from friends that something was going on and had scrambled to get to the Gaza Envelope, received no response from their superiors. “I came with my private vehicle to the Yad Mordechai junction after I saw on the news at home the video of the Nukhba terrorists on a pick-up truck in Sderot,” relates a brigade commander in regular service. “During the entire drive I tried to get in touch with my friends at the Gaza Division and at the Southern Command in order to understand where it would be best for me to go first, and to hear from them what was happening on the ground and where I should send my soldiers. When they finally picked up, I heard mostly shouting on the other side of the line, and when I asked for something as elementary as a description of the current situation, the Gaza Division told me: ‘we do not have a description of the current situation. Find a focal point of fighting and you tell us what the situation is.’ And here I am, coming from home, my brigade is dispersed throughout other sectors or is exercising in the north, and like many others, I can already see terrorists at Erez crossing, and I am certain that the incident is right where I am.” By the way, that feeling, that every commander thought that the focal combat was happening right where he was without knowing that a few kilometers away, his colleague was fighting a similar battle, was common to many of the officers we spoke with. None of them knew that in fact, in those hours, there were some 80 different points of combat.


According to a Southern Command officer, it was only around 7:30 am, more than an hour after the attack began, that the Commander of the Gaza Division, Brigadier General Avi Rosenfeld called the Pit in Tel Aviv and reported that the Division’s base in Re’im and the entire area were under heavy attack. He reported that he could not yet describe the scope and details of the attack, and asked the commander on call to send him all available IDF forces.

At 7:43 the Command in Tel Aviv issued the Pleshet Order: The first order to deploy forces, according to which all emergency forces and all units near the Gaza border region must head south immediately. [Translator’s note: Pleshet – פלשת – is a play on words. It is the Biblical name of Palestine, and uses the verb root for invasion: פ.ל.ש.] However, the order did not mention what was not clear at all, neither at the Southern Command nor in the Pit in Tel Aviv, that this was a broad invasion, whose goal was to occupy parts of the south of the country and included taking over junctions for ambushes and to neutralize reinforcements. The result was that a significant part of the forces that headed out did not know that there was a risk of running into enemy forces while they were still on their way to the settlement or base that they were sent to.

There was another problem with the Pleshet Order: it was actually intended to protect Israel from a completely different type of incursion. Until the establishment of “the barrier,” the main threat had been the intrusion of terrorists into Israel via a network of penetrative tunnels, from which they would attempt to reach the settlements. The Pleshet Order was phrased to protect against this type of threat, and it focused on regions inside Israel, such that terrorists who would emerge from tunnels inside Israel would be neutralized. In other words, the order did not focus on protecting the border fence against infiltration by Hamas terrorists who would have to operate above ground, nor on the threat of thousands of terrorists flowing into Israel almost freely, through more than 30 breakthrough points. The IDF had not imagined such a scenario, and did not prepare orders for it. This failure is even stranger, as the IDF had obtained Hamas’ “Jericho Wall” battle plan that described exactly this kind of attack, and yet did not cancel the Pleshet order or update its defense plans.


The General Staff gathered around 8:00 am in the new operations pit at the Kirya in Tel Aviv, and Chief of Staff Herzl “Herzi” Halevi arrived. No one understood that for an hour and a half already, Israel had been under a full-blown attack by Hamas.


The officers of the UAV squadron understand that there is no point for them to wait for orders from the Air Force Command or from the Gaza Division. They manage to get in touch with the Division and essentially ask that all procedures, orders, and regulations be tossed in the trash. “You have authority to fire at will,” the Zik operators were told by the Division. In other words: shoot at anything that looks threatening or like an enemy.

But whom to attack? Without an orderly command, the UAV operators tried to build a “target bank” on their own. Improvisation swiftly took over here, too: most operators are young officers who have friends and relatives fighting on the ground at that very moment. It was decided to trash another iron rule: never let a cell phone into the operations portable. The operators made regular phone calls with their peers on the ground: “You see that building with the dark roof? So, the tower next to it” to guide them. And at the most extreme, other operators joined the Whatsapp groups of Kibbutz Kfar Azza and other settlements and were told what to target by besieged civilians.


The two lone Apache helicopters in the air, which were operating on their own initiative until now, managed to make initial radio contact with the commander of one of the companies on the ground. This contact, which is so necessary for the air forces to receive a situation update from the ground forces and be directed to the target, only formed about an hour and a half from the beginning of the attack. The company commander asked for fire for his benefit, and received it. After the shooting, the Apache pilots pointed the helicopters to the west, and an alarming sight becomes visible: a tremendous river of human beings, flowing through the gaps toward the settlements of the south. It would later become clear that this was the second wave of invaders – the first wave had consisted mostly of Nukhba and Palestinian Jihad terrorists – and this second wave also included armed civilians and tens of thousands of looters.

The pilot decided to shoot two missiles at the armed persons, as well as dozens of shells from the helicopter’s cannon, indiscriminately, in order to chase them back to Gaza. Later the helicopters noticed a large gap in the border fence near Nahal Oz and attacked the multitudes who were crossing through it. In both cases the success was limited, simply because there were too many terrorists and two few shells: each helicopter carries six missiles and 500 cannon shells. The two helicopters were forced to leave in order to rearm themselves, and returned to the base around 10:20 am.


Additional Apache helicopters took flight, this time from Ramon base, and operated mostly in the regions where there were breaches of the fence. This would be their primary activity until noon. The Air Force was still confused and affected by the fog of war. “Shoot anyone who intrudes in our space, without [waiting for] authorization,” squadron commander Lieutenant Colonel A told his subordinates in the air, while he himself took off for the Gaza Envelope. One of the helicopters was damaged by small arms fire, but continued fighting.


Ronen Bar, the director of Shin Bet, instructed his people: anyone who can carry a weapon must go south. During the previous night, as mentioned, Bar had received several signals of an event happening in the Gaza Strip region, but he thought that even if Hamas was planning something, it would be a limited and localized action, so he only sent the Tequila Force. The Tequila Force fighters were some of the first to encounter the infiltrating terrorists, fought them bravely, and managed to report to Shin Bet headquarters. But even at that time, neither the Shin Bet nor [the generals] in the Pit under the Kirya understood that the attack was, in fact, extensive. It was only around 9:00 am, when reports from his subordinates were confirmed by other reports and by media coverage, that Bar instructed all employees with combat training who had weapons to go south and help in the fighting. According to a person familiar with the events of that morning, people who went down to the ground included coordinators, combat school trainers, security detail bodyguards, people who secure facilities and people who secure on-the-ground actions. In total, dozens of Shin Bet employees were involved, who killed dozens of terrorists and rescued hundreds of residents of the Gaza Envelope region. Shin Bet combatants who live in the settlements in the south went out to fight even before the instruction was given, and thereafter joined the other forces who arrived in the area. In the course of the fighting, 10 of the organization’s people were killed.


While many reinforcements were flowing south, it was not yet understood at the Gaza Division, at the Southern Command and at the Pit in Tel Aviv that the Nukhba terrorists had foreseen these reinforcements and took over the strategic junctions such as Gama, Magen, Ein Habesor, and Shaar Hanegev, where they awaited the forces. The expected order to secure the intersections before the arrival of reinforcements had not yet come down, and a lot of blood was shed at those junctions, both of soldiers and of civilians.

But there were some who had understood. Battalion 450 of the platoon commander training school was on call for the Gaza Division that Saturday, and battalion commander Lieutenant Colonel Ran Canaan mobilized his fighters from the base near Yerucham relatively early in the morning. The battalion was told that it was going to the Gaza Envelope region, but it was not alerted about intersections on the way having become places for deadly ambushes. Some 50 fighters got onto a regular bus with full equipment and headed out. Suddenly, between Tze’elim and Kerem Shalom, the driver slammed his brakes for an emergency stop. Some policemen approached the bus, waving their hands. Some were injured. They told the company commander with great alarm that at the next junction, about three kilometers away from them, terrorists were waiting for them, with a heavy machine gun and anti-tank weapons. The force commander understood that a machine gun volley against the sides of the unarmored bus would make it a death trap for his soldiers. “The Nukhba deployed squads at the junctions on the way to the Gaza Envelope, with RPG teams, snipers, machine guns, and immense amounts of ammunition, for long hours of combat,” said Lieutenant Colonel Canaan, who was wounded in the battles and returned to combat after some days had passed. “The company commander took a decision: continue toward the Gaza Envelope region on foot and leave the bus behind. Everyone went off and proceeded on foot, so the bus was not hit by an anti-tank missile or by machine gun fire. The fighters went around the intersections and secured them, cleared the bridge over the Besor creek that the terrorists had taken over, and they did all this on foot, for kilometers on end.”

Around 9:30, the besieged Gaza Division eventually managed to man and operate the Hupat Esh [Fire Canopy] attack cell. [Editor’s note: This is a secretive mobile command room according to Israeli press reports.] This is a system established by Chief of Staff Kohavi and which operates in the division. The idea is that one place will hold intelligence about targets, control and planning about attacking them, and the corresponding operation of aerial forces. Thus, a single Hupat Esh attack cell could, for example, shoot down an incendiary balloon or execute an aerial attack on a mortar shell launching unit. But the Hupat Esh system was never designed to cope with such an insane amount of targets simultaneously.

The officers faced dilemmas of life and death: where should they direct the helicopter gunships and the Zik first? To the dozens of breaches in the fence, through which the terrorists continued to arrive? To the posts currently occupied by the Nukhba terrorists, where they were killing hundreds of soldiers and taking others as captives back into Gaza? Or should it be in the direction of Sderot, or the Kibbutzim, where the civilians were being brutalized? Eventually, the Hupat Esh attack cell commanders, some of whom were 22 years old, sent the Apache pilots a command that has never appeared in any standing order: “You have permission until further notice – and throughout the entire area.”

A similar mechanism of deploying firepower was also started in the course of the morning at the Southern Command headquarters in Beer Sheva. An experienced officer, in the sixth decade of his life, arrived at the command from his home in the north around sunset, and stood shocked before the screens, flickering with targets. “We prepared and exercised for many scenarios of infiltration from Gaza,” he told 7 Days. But if the officer from the training administration at headquarters would have written a scenario like the one that happened on October 7th for an upcoming exercise, we would have hospitalized them at a psychiatric institute immediately.”


The fighting on the ground intensified and drew casualties. In many cases the fighters had to collect intelligence on their own in order to get their bearings. The commander of Division 36, Brigadier General Dado Bar Khalifa, for instance, did not wait for orders and rushed directly from his home to the site and arrived at Netiv Haasara around 10:00 am. He took a gun, a bullet-proof vest and a helmet from one of the injured policemen. Then he photographed some of the Nukhba terrorists that he had neutralized in order to send these photographs to the intelligence entities and refrained from killing some of them intentionally. Bar Khalifa caught two of them veritably by physically beating them in the fields between Yad Mordechai and the occupied Erez Post, undressed them to ascertain that they were not carrying explosive charges, and started interrogating them on the spot. From this interrogation, which was done under fire, Bar Khalifa learned about the directions of the Nukhba invasion, where some of their people were hiding in ambush, and in general, about the scope of the event, at least in the northern part of the sector, near Sderot. Apparently, at this point he knew a lot more than what they knew in the Pit.


Like other combat brigades, Brigade 890 also mobilized from its Nabi Mussa base near Jerusalem at 7:00 am and headed in the direction of the Gaza Envelope. Some of the brigade fighters arrived for the fighting at Kibbutz Be’eri. Meanwhile brigade commander Lieutenant Colonel Yoni Hacohen managed to finagle a Sikorsky CH-53 Sea Stallion “Yasur” helicopter to bring a few dozen of his fighters to the area. At 11:30, a moment before landing near Kibbutz Alumim, the helicopter was directly hit by an RPG from the ground – quite a rare occurrence – but before it went up in flames, the pilot managed to land it safely, and the warriors disembarked and directly entered the battle in the kibbutz.

The battles they took part in, some of which were in the constructed area, made the 890 unit fighters very much regret that they had arrived without fragmentation grenades. Other brigades also did not receive this important weapon. The reason: the IDF has a policy of storing grenades in bunkers for sound reasons of safety. When do they distribute them? Only during relevant exercises or for operations in enemy territory. When forces are mobilized on short notice, their chance of receiving grenades is not high.

Lack of combat equipment or inappropriate equipment was a complaint made by many of the officers and ground personnel that we talked to. It may be understandable why the emergency reserve storehouses were not ready to equip fighters in the south who had arrived from the north, but here is a story of a reservist battalion from Division 98, a select commando unit. One might have assumed that for this sort of battalion, which would clearly spearhead any fighting, everything would be prepared in advance. But no. Fighters who managed to reach the emergency reserve storehouses late in the morning commented about missing equipment. “Of course the weapons had not been calibrated, and for a few hours we were shooting in the Gaza Envelope region without hitting any terrorists,” one of the fighters related. “Our marksmen went without the sights assembled onto the weapons, and then there were the bullet-proof vests. At least one of the guys was killed that Saturday when a bullet hit his stomach because he didn’t have such a vest.”

And, by the way, the infantry fighters were not the only ones suffering a lack of equipment. The armored corps also discovered this very quickly. For example, the reservists from Division 252 were mobilized relatively early on Saturday morning, but when they reached their supply center in Tze’elim, where they found that the first tanks available to them were Merkava III tanks – and even these were not in an impressively well-maintained condition, some of them being more than 20 years old. But they did not have many choices, so they got into the Merkava tanks, prayed that the engines would start, and raced along the roads towards the Gaza Envelope. These tanks were some of the first to report what no one in the command centers had managed to understand yet: that the Nukhba terrorists had built ambushes at key points in order to attack reinforcement units.


The chaos and confusion continued for many long hours. In the status evaluation coming up to noon, the Southern Command already understood that their assessment up until that morning, according to which Hamas did not have the capacity to penetrate “the barrier” except maybe at one or two points, had entirely collapsed, and that Hamas had managed to penetrate at more than 30 points (see the map of penetration points on these pages.) [Editor’s note: The map shows 48 red dots on the fence around Gaza with the legend: “breakthrough location in the fence/gate broken.”]

Even almost six hours after the fact, the fog covering that status evaluation was immense. Headquarters did not understand what Hamas’ goals were, where their forces were deployed and how they operate, the control of intersections, the concurrent attacks on posts and on civilian settlements. At that time, Headquarters believed that they could regain control over the entire south of the country by dark. In practice this would take another three days, and even then, the area would not be fully cleared of Hamas people.

But in the meanwhile, the first videos about captives started coming in, and Headquarters also understood that at least in this respect, this was now a completely different event. This was the moment at which the IDF decided to return to a version of the Hannibal Directive.

In 1986, after the capture and murder of two IDF soldiers by Hizballah, the IDF introduced a new, secret, and controversial directive. Under the “Task” section, it included the statement that “Immediate location of a ‘Hannibal’ incident, delay/halt the capturing force at any price and release the captives.” The original command stated that “In the course of a capture, the main task becomes rescuing our soldiers from the captors, even at the price of hitting or injuring our soldiers.” According to publications, the order was changed in 2016, softened, and had its name changed. Its current language has not been published, but a clarification was introduced that actions must be avoided that would be highly likely to endanger the captive’s life.

The 7 Days investigation shows that at midday of October 7th, the IDF instructed all its fighting units to perform the Hannibal Directive in practice, although it did so without stating that name explicitly. The instruction was to stop “at any cost” any attempt by Hamas terrorists to return to Gaza, using language very similar to that of the original Hannibal Directive, despite repeated promises by the defense apparatus that the directive had been canceled.

In practice, the meaning of the order is that the primary goal was to stop the retreat of the Nukhba operatives. And if they took captives with them as hostages, then to do so even if this means the endangerment or harming of the lives of civilians in the region, including the captives themselves.

According to several testimonies, the Air Force operated during those hours under an instruction to prevent movement from Gaza into Israel and return from Israel into Gaza. Estimates say that in the area between the Gaza Envelope settlements and the Gaza Strip, some one thousand terrorists and infiltrators were killed. It is not clear at this stage how many of the captives were killed due to the operation of this order on October 7th. During the week after Black Sabbath and at the initiative of Southern Command, soldiers from elite units examined some 70 vehicles that had remained in the area between the Gaza Envelope settlements and the Gaza Strip. These were vehicles that did not reach Gaza because on their way they had been hit by fire from a helicopter gunship, a UAV or a tank, and at least in some of the cases, everyone in the vehicle was killed.


Around noon that Saturday, about six hours after the Hamas attack began, due to the partial information, the IDF still estimated that only about 200 Nukhba terrorists had infiltrated into Israel, while the actual number was nearly ten times larger. 7 Days has discovered that at this stage the IDF was still using the status evaluations in the battle plan prepared at Southern Command, although it was clear that it was no longer relevant. Embarrassingly, they continued to recycle and copy the content of the plan, including the categorical statement that Hamas had a “very low” capacity to pass the fence.

Israel had access to the Hamas “Walls of Jericho” invasion plan, which turned out to be almost entirely realistic on October 7th. But no one thought that maybe orders should be prepared in advance for this scenario. The result: six hours into the attack, as the south was awash with over 2,000 terrorists, the only available order is the one based on the assumption that the capacity of Hamas to even cross the fence was “very low.”


The Air Force focused since the morning on the primary task: to stop the incursions across the fence. At noon they also expanded the aerial attacks on the settlements and camps that had been occupied, at the request of elite units such as Flotilla 13 and the Nahal commando. Since no continuous contact had been made with the Air Force command, the pilots conducted themselves via direct telephone conversation with officers and fighters on the ground, and were directed to attack the gym and fitness room of the Gaza Division at the Re’im camp, after seven of the Nukhba terrorists had entrenched themselves there. Later, they also attacked the dining hall in the besieged Sufa outpost.

At the time there were 10 helicopter gunships in the air (out of 28 that participated in the battles that morning, by rotation), but even at that stage, the communication with the aerial forces was mostly improvisational, as mentioned. Thus, for example, the second in command of Division 80, Colonel A, who had wished to storm the citrus groves near Kerem Shalom, personally called the commander of the helicopter gunship squadron, Lieutenant Colonel A, and requested massive fire towards the citrus grove. Generally, the safety range in such incidents between the ground forces and the aerial bombardment is approximately 300 meters. This time the range was just a few dozen meters. A few days later, an intelligence officer would tell squadron commander A that the Nukhba terrorists were instructed not to run that morning, knowing that the pilots would think that these were Israelis walking, not escaping, and then would hesitate to shoot at them. That’s what it is like when the enemy knows much more about you than you know about them.

Response by the IDF Spokesperson: “The IDF is currently fighting the murderous Hamas terror organization in the Gaza Strip. The IDF will hold a thorough, detailed, and in-depth investigation into the matter to fully clarify the details when the operational situation permits this, and will publish its findings to the public.”
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Re: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

Postby admin » Tue Feb 13, 2024 1:48 am


If there is anyone here, who follows this thread, reading this, and not having previously heard of it, and in case for every random person, we should WRITE TO JOE BIDEN -- TONIGHT -- AND TELL HIM TO GET GOING!! HOW MANY MORE PEOPLE DEAD CAN YOU HANDLE? GET MOVING! PEOPLE ARE DYING! A VERY, VERY, VERY LOT OF THEM!

And send it to your congressmen and women, and anyone you can think of.

It's time for us Palestinian-lovers to get moving ourselves.


Tara Carreon

Biden reportedly fed up with Netanyahu, calling him ‘asshole’ over management of war: NBC News reports that US president is telling confidants he is frustrated by prime minister’s refusal to change tactics in Gaza and agree to Saudi normalization framework
by Lazar Berman
Times of Israel
12 February 2024, 4:52 pm
https://www.timesofisrael.com/biden-rep ... -gaza-war/


File: US President Joe Biden (right) is greeted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Ben Gurion International Airport, October 18, 2023. (Evan Vucci/AP Photo)

Amid reports of growing frustration in the White House with Benjamin Netanyahu, NBC News reported on Monday that US President Joe Biden has been expressing his exasperation with the prime minister in private conversations — even calling him an “asshole” — but is not about to make any major policy changes.

Citing “five people directly familiar with his comments,” the report said that Biden has expressed frustration to confidants, including campaign donors, over his “inability to persuade Israel to change its military tactics in Gaza.”

He is also flummoxed by Netanyahu’s rejection of deals that the US president thinks are a win for Israel, like Saudi normalization in exchange for movement toward a Palestinian state.

In January, Netanyahu reportedly rejected a proposal from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that would have seen Saudi Arabia normalize relations with Israel in exchange for Jerusalem agreeing to provide the Palestinians with a pathway toward statehood.

Biden reportedly said he is trying to get Israel to agree to a ceasefire with Hamas, but Netanyahu is “giving him hell.”

The president called Netanyahu an “asshole” in at least three recent instances, according to three of the anonymous sources.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to FOX News on February 11, 2024 (Screenshot)

“He just feels like this is enough,” one of the sources told NBC, regarding Biden’s thoughts on Netanyahu’s behavior. “It has to stop.”

Biden, the report also said, believes that Netanyahu wants to extend the war to stay in power.

However, the sources said Biden thinks it would be counterproductive to be too critical of Netanyahu in public.

Disagreements between the two leaders have become more public in recent weeks.

In a phone call on Sunday, Biden told Netanyahu that Israel should not go ahead with a military operation in the densely populated Gaza border town of Rafah without a “credible” plan to protect civilians.

Netanyahu has declared in recent interviews that Israel will provide “safe passage for the civilian population” ahead of the expected assault on Hamas in the city, and dismissed fears of a “catastrophe.”

About half of Gaza’s population of over 2 million has fled to Rafah to escape fighting in other areas, packed into sprawling tent camps and United Nation-run shelters near the border.

People stand around craters caused by Israeli bombardment in Rafah on the southern Gaza Strip on February 12, 2024(SAID KHATIB / AFP)

On Thursday, Biden called the conduct of Israel’s military campaign against Hamas “over the top.”

The two also discussed on Sunday “ongoing efforts to secure the release of all remaining hostages held by Hamas,” along with increasing the “throughput and consistency” of humanitarian aid to Gaza civilians, according to the White House.

Biden and other US officials continue to stand behind Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas. The White House readout of the Biden-Netanyahu call on Sunday began with the statement: “The President reaffirmed our shared goal to see Hamas defeated and to ensure the long-term security of Israel and its people.”

Still, the president and his officials have expressed increasing concern over the civilian death toll, suffering and humanitarian crisis in the Strip, and the lack of clarity from Israel regarding the “day after” the war in Gaza.

Visiting Israel last week, Blinken bitterly criticized Israel’s Gaza campaign, warning that the horrors of October 7 did not give Israel “a license to dehumanize others.”

Last week, a top White House official said he does not have “any confidence” in Netanyahu’s government, specifically regarding its readiness to take “meaningful steps” toward the creation of a Palestinian state, The New York Times reported.

In January, Netanyahu said in a number of prepared messages that he would not give up full security council west of the Jordan River, pushing back against calls from the Biden administration for a pathway toward a Palestinian state.

IDF troops operate inside the Gaza Strip in this undated handout photo release on February 11, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

An NBC report also cited three administration officials who claimed the administration was looking past Netanyahu to try and achieve its goals in the region, with one of them telling the network that the premier “will not be there forever.”

Despite the disagreements, Netanyahu has made sure not to disparage the US president publicly. Asked on Sunday about a US government report that portrayed US President Joe Biden as suffering from memory loss, Netanyahu told ABC’s “This Week” that he’s “found him very clear, and very focused.”

War erupted when Hamas-led terrorists stormed southern Israel on October 7 to kill nearly 1,200 people, mainly civilians, while taking 253 hostages of all ages, committing numerous atrocities, and weaponizing sexual violence on a mass scale.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said on Monday that 28,340 people have been killed inside the Palestinian enclave since the start of the war, while 67,984 others have been injured. These figures cannot be independently verified, however, and are believed to include both civilians and Hamas members killed in Gaza, including as a consequence of terror groups’ own rocket misfires.

The IDF says it has killed over 10,000 terror operatives in Gaza since the start of the war, in addition to some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.
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Re: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

Postby admin » Tue Feb 13, 2024 2:31 am

Commander-in-Chief President Joe Biden
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500

February 12. 2024


Subject: “Netanyahu is an A-hole.”

Dear President Biden:

Having heard that you have expressed the opinion quoted in the subject line of this letter, I wish to congratulate you on your perspicacity. Granted that it required no great powers of vision to discern this fact; however, engulphed as you are in the smoky swirls of policy and the fog of war, it is in fact to your credit that you are able to see what every clear-eyed American can already see – America’s unquestioned military might is being employed to extinguish Palestinian people. This cannot be. The horrific stain on our national honor of not merely standing by, but supplying the means for genocide, will never be expunged from our national history. You cannot be the Commander-in-Chief who allowed this massacre of the innocent, who supplied the immensely destructive high-tech munitions that have obliterated all sign of human habitation in Gaza, all the way to the Egyptian border, until the last strangulation of this oppressed people. To quote the young boy who confronted Babe Ruth, his childhood hero, at the moment when he was discovered to have taken a bribe to throw a game: “Say it ain’t so, Joe!”


Charles & Tara Carreon


Martin Heinrich, US Senator from New Mexico (D)
709 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5521

Ben Ray Luján, , US Senator from New Mexico (D)
498 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-6621
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