Warning: This site contains images and graphic descriptions of extreme violence and/or its effects. It's not as bad as it could be, but is meant to be shocking. Readers should be 18+ or a mature 17 or so. There is also some foul language occasionally, and potential for general upsetting of comforting conventional wisdom. Please view with discretion.

Saturday, May 25, 2024

"Killed on October 7" or Should Have Been

Israel Picking off the last of its Hostages Under Cynical Code? 

May 25, 2024

As the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) pushes ahead in Gaza, notably in the Jabaila refugee camp in the north, they've been finding the bodies of their long-sought hostages, sadly deceased. Most of these were thought to be alive until these discoveries, but now it's declared they died soon after their kidnapping in the Hamas incursion of October 7, following on injuries sustained then. However, some evidence suggests the IDF is killing these people as they go, using the "October 7" stamp as code - a code chosen by those who feel the hostages should have all been killed then. 

As widely noted, it seems the IDF re-activated and expanded their "Hannibal" directive that day, to prevent the capture of both military and civilians, at risk to their lives. The IDF successfully prevented many cars full of hostages from returning to Gaza by blasting them with Apache helicopters, and preventing houses full of civilians being taken by flattening the houses around them with tank shells. The 250 or so that were taken to Gaza always included many injured and some taken as corpses. Israel's violence since then - besides its unprecedented, genocidal harm to Gaza's original population - has reportedly killed dozens of these, perhaps over 100, while rescuing just 2 or maybe 3 of them. This has left perhaps just a handful of "pawns" still alive to plow over if needed in the course of - hopefully - ethnically cleansing Gaza and "making it Jewish again." (see my previous post: https://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/2024/05/pawns-to-plow-over-how-netanyahu-is.html)

The war purists are interested in flattening Gaza, likely including places the hostages are. To them, the hostages were always a "political" headache. 105 of them, largely children and women, were released with a deal in November. That looked good anyway, but it took a ceasefire, slowing their momentum, and releasing hundreds of Palestinians they would have preferred to keep behind bars. They didn't want to repeat this, and they never have. No deals are needed for the dead. Remains can be recovered in whatever state at any time, or be left buried in the rubble if necessary. 

But just with the dozen or so widely known cases of hostages killed by "friendly fire," they have enough of that blood on their hands. If they were to continue with these killings, they would want some basic formula that could explain it away. They might seek to sow a certain mythical narrative, as I've seen it put by an adherent, "the hostages are all dead. Nuke Gaza." And conveniently, it's starting to seem like they were all dead from the start. 

Some appeals to this picture: The majority were killed by Hamas, and not executed in Gaza out of blind hate (illogically killing their hard-won leverage), but more plausibly in the chaos of October 7. IDF violence in Gaza since October 7 is blameless in this scenario, although some "Hannibalism" on that day could play in. And consider that Hamas lied, or whatever, letting people believe those hostages remained alive and worth bargaining over. But they never were, in this narrative. Maybe the 105 including children were worth the hassle of returning alive, but otherwise, they presented nothing but a complication. From the start, in this narrative, the complication was conveniently small and fit to ignore. And so hostage safety was largely ignored in favor of the same violence that keeps picking them off, and evetually the prophecy becomes self-fulfilling. In the end, it may be that all the hostages still held managed to "die back on October 7." They were not just fated to die at the outset of this genocidal violence but, as they'll say over and over, they were actually dead from the start. Wash hands, shake dry. 

I don't have anything close to proof that this is occurring, but some reason to propose it is related below. 

Grim Discoveries in Jabaila

Just yesterday, May 24, the bodies of hostages Hanan Yablonka, Michel Nisenbaum, and Orion Hernandez (Hernández-Radoux) were found in the Jabalia camp in northern Gaza. All 3 were previously listed among the presumably living hostages still held by Hamas. But all 3 are now said to be killed back on October 7, with the bodies kidnapped to Gaza for later exchange. Just their decaying (?) remains were recovered. Israeli military recovers the bodies of 3 more hostages killed on Oct. 7 from Gaza (msn.com) On May 17, the bodies of Amit Buskila, Itzhak Gelerenter, and Shani Louk were discovered, also in Jabalia, with the same given story - dead all along. IDF recovers bodies of hostages Itzhak Gelerenter, Amit Buskila, Shani Louk, all slain on Oct. 7 | The Times of Israel 

Shani Louk, a 23-year-old tattoo artist with dual German citizenship, is one of the most famous faces of October 7. The girlfriend of Orion Hernandez (found the 24th), Shani was taken from the Nova rave and famously seen, distorted and likely dead in a truck bed, her distinctive tattooed legs broken and horribly bent back. Wearing just what she wore to the rave ("half-naked"), she was "paraded" through Gaza City (transported, with a traffic pause amid a hostile crowd), cursed and spat on. It was an ugly scene, widely seen as a fit reason to kill every person in Gaza.

Shani was confirmed dead back in October, albeit with some questions we'll consider here. But the other two had been listed until then as presumably alive. Now all 3 were supposedly killed on October 7, or died soon after from wounds sustained then. 

A fourth hostage, Ron Benjamin, was also found dead and publicly added to the tally the next day. He too was previously thought alive. IDF: Body of hostage Ron Benjamin recovered from Gaza, in addition to three others announced Friday | The Times of Israel 

That makes a total of 7 bodies found in a week, just one of them previously thought dead. The list of hostages thought to be alive keeps shrinking (and it's still too big). My previous post on May 11 was based on a list of 87 (it was 96 when I started following). That included 11 named by Hamas as killed, and an unclear majority of 65+ others they have reported dead without names. That is, most of them are likely dead. But just keeping it to what Israel confirms, the 6 newly-learned deaths - along with Lior Ruadaeff, and Eylakim Libman (declared dead in early May, but whom I missed at the time), brings the total down to 79 potentially living hostages, not 132 or even "around 100." 

Deaths in the Tunnels 

The May 17 bodies were reportedly found in a Hamas tunnel the IDF had just liberated, with an entrance (shown at right) reportedly inside a UNRWA building. A plaque says this "shelter" was "reconstructed" with German grants sometime last year. This was taken by some as another sign that UNRWA and the UN in general are secretly in cahoots with Hamas and pretty much everybody else, in a vast, global, antisemitic conspiracy. https://x.com/DrEliDavid/status/1793719511767502985

According to Times Of Israel military correspondent Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian: The May 24 bodies "were located in a tunnel in Jabaliya" in "the same area from which the bodies of another four hostages were recovered a week earlier." In this case, "the 75th Armored Battalion" killed a lookout, then "raided and captured the site," after which "troops of the elite Yahalom combat engineering unit, Shin Bet agents, and special forces of the Military Intelligence Directorate entered the tunnel and located the bodies.... According to the IDF, the location of the bodies was extracted from intelligence obtained in recent days by the military and Shin Bet." https://x.com/manniefabian/status/1794413031314669870

By this, they knew about the hostages, where they were, and that they were already dead. The same "intelligence," Fabian writes, "also revealed that the three were abducted by Hamas terrorists from the Mefalsim area in southern Israel on October 7, and were killed there or a short while later en route to Gaza."

But the last time hostage bodies were found in a tunnel - back on December 14 - it seems quite likely they were alive until the IDF killed them. Unaware of any hostages in the area, they attacked a tunnel - also in in Jabalia - killing a top Hamas commander, Ahmad Al Ghandour. Afterwards, they found Ron Sherman, Nick Beiser, and Elia Toledano, it seems killed either with poison gas or some asphyxiating effect of the weaponry used. https://thegrayzone.com/2024/01/18/israeli-army-gassed-auschwitz-soldier/ - video from the tunnels: https://x.com/A_SX100/status/1739108581184586108

Unlike the others mentioned in this post, all 3 had been shown alive in an underground cell, on a Hamas-released video (https://t.me/mirrorresist/208). These 3 were acknowledged as killed just then, not back on October 7. If it weren't for this video, maybe we would have heard these guys too died back on October 7. 

Two days before that incident, on December 12, "the IDF recovered the bodies of Aden Zakaria and Ziv Dado from the same area." (Jerusalem Post via MSN) Unlike the 3 found in the tunnel, both are now thought to be killed on October 7. And like the 7 found in May, both were considered alive until then. Were they actually kidnapped alive and then killed in this same incident, or another incident related to the same assault? 

Shani's "Preserved Corpse" - "Miracle" or "Friendly Fire"?

Considering that their bodies would have been decaying for well over seven months before discovery in late May, it seems a "miracle" is involved at least in the case of the "confirmed" death, Shani Louk, so she appeared freshly dead. (hat-tip to Max Blumenthal for noticing this first, in this discussion)

The New York Post (via MSN), May 17: "The parents of Shani Louk, the 23-year-old tattoo artist killed by Hamas and paraded half-naked through Gaza like a trophy, described identifying their daughter’s body seven months after she was murdered by terrorists — hours after her remains were recovered in Rafah by Israeli soldiers."

“The body that we have now is complete and beautiful and looks like she’s alive actually,” said Shani’s father, Nissim Louk, telling The Post Friday that the condition of her body was “a miracle.”

“I think she’d been in one of the tunnels which was very, very cold…that’s why the body is complete and beautiful and the skin is still the same color, you still see the tattoos, it’s amazing,” he told The Post as part of a conversation with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach." Shani Louk’s parents describe seeing daughter’s body 7 months after she was murdered and paraded through Gaza (msn.com) 

Rabbi Shmuley probably agrees it's a miracle; God in his wisdom chose to let Shani die, but intervened to preserve her body perfectly for nearly eight months, to ... make some point about life, sacrifice, and Israel's beautiful future, or whatever? But I don't suspect that's the case. It's possible this is nothing more than some kind of mix-up or misunderstanding; for example, intercepted Hamas photos from the time of her death were shown in lieu of her actual body (although Nissim Louk's words don't sound like this is the case). Or maybe they sort of hallucinated her body appearing as they had last seen it, or as it should be? That seems possible.

Otherwise we have a problem. No tunnel is colder than the refrigerators they use for storing dead bodies, and after 7 months even on ice, a body will be deeply decayed. For reference, case from 2012 in Syria covered at this blog, where several men and boys - including the famous child martyr Hamza Al-Khatib - were kept refrigerated for a month or two after their killings in a murky "Saida massacre." After a month, as with Hamza, bodies have some discoloration and bloating, with a spreading green color in the abdomen, but fairly recognizable faces. The longest-held body I could see a video of, held 65 days, was blackening all over, with a withered, unrecognizable face. I can only imagine a body held for 7-8 months would be little more than bones and slime, with the normal refrigeration as seemingly used there.

There is also a colder, sub-zero type of body storage I know less about. A site focused on corpse presentability for a funeral outlines the difference:

1, In Positive Temperature Morgue Refrigerators, a body can be refrigerated for about two weeks before the effects of decomposition become pronounced. 

2, In Negative Temperature Morgue Refrigerators, a body can be preserved for months. (Other than "several" no number of months is specified. )

It seems possible, if complicated, for Hamas to operate either kind of system somewhere in or linked to their tunnel system, even with all the shortages of fuel and electricity. The negative temperature type might explain this "miracle," but this seems doubtful. Such a massively slowed decomposition that 7.5 months looks like a day would probably be said to keep a body somewhat presentable for "years," not "months." And under the strained conditions of the war, basic or no refrigeration is most likely. In that case, there would be a few days to a few weeks before a body stopped looking remotely "alive." 

To be clear, this suggests Shani Louk may have been alive long after October 7, and likely until the time of this IDF offensive, so that she was quite likely killed in that offensive. I haven't heard any descriptions of the others found in these tunnels, but the same story likely applies to at least to the three she was found alongside - all four may have been rendered as "bodies" just before their discovery as such.

But Wasn't Shani Confirmed as Dead? 

The initial video from October 7 suggested a dead person - legs badly broken and folded back, among other, less visible injuries, and no sign of movement. But it was just days before, on October 11, Shani's mother, Ricarda Louk, "confirmed that she is alive in hospital but remains in critical condition" with a "severe head injury."  https://x.com/MetroUK/status/1712090673594192377 

Mrs. Louk would later explain how, a few minutes before 7 a.m. on October 7, Shani's friend Keshet Casarotti placed an emergency call saying Shani was "injured but conscious," allowing for hope. Then later "we received a sign of life, which we didn't know whether it was true, from someone who went to look for her in hospitals. He told us that she was in a Hamas hospital, seriously injured in the head. We hoped it was true, that it was some sign of life." https://www.israelhayom.com/2024/02/12/she-left-something-for-the-world-drawings-of-shani-louk-turned-into-exhibition/

But this hope was soon dispelled by Israeli state experts; on or by October 30, Shani's death was announced by Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, after a fragment from her skull was located. 

CNN:  "The bone fragment was from the petrous part of the temporal bone, which is at the base of the skull, normally near the carotid artery, a major blood vessel that provides blood to the brain. A DNA test concluded the fragment belonged to Louk. The bone fragment, combined with the circumstances surrounding the October 7 attack and video that appeared to show Louk unconscious on the back of a Hamas truck, led investigators to conclude these were her remains."  

"The determination was made by five top experts at the health ministry, including Dr. Chen Kugel, the director of Israel's National Center of Forensic Medicine." https://edition.cnn.com/middleeast/live-news/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news-10-30-23/h_829538af35379597bccd8720cad210b8

As Ricarda Louk was told “A human being cannot live without this piece they found. ... They found it on the Israeli side, so it means it’s from the first day — because on that first day, after a few hours, we had already seen a video of her body in the Gaza Strip.” https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/witness-of-shani-louks-death-recounts-her-final-moments-in-this-world/ar-AA1jdqvp

A more definitive call was attempted, perhaps on accident, by Israel's president Isaac Herzog. Confirming her death on October 30, he explained incorrectly to the German newspaper Bild. "Her skull was found ... This means that these barbaric, sadistic animals simply chopped off her head as they attacked, tortured and killed Israelis." https://www.i24news.tv/en/news/israel-at-war/1698670724-herzog-says-german-israeli-shani-louk-found-beheaded-in-gaza The New York Post would report in May "Shani’s family announced in late October that she had died at the hands of Hamas, with Israel’s President Isaac Herzog later revealing to a German newspaper that she had been beheaded." But that wasn't "revealed." Her head is still plainly attached in the video of her body. Most relevant sources will ignore this bit of atrocity propaganda nonsense, but remain sure that Shani at least was dead from the start, because a crucial, if small, part of her head was missing. 

The "petrous part of the temporal bone" is a sort of dish-shaped portion of the skull's base, with the outer part corresponding to around the ear and a bit behind that. (I think ... Petrous part of the temporal bone - Wikipedia) Looking at the video, a noticeable triangular chunk is missing from about there, on the right side, closer to the back of the skull than to the ear.  

This is nowhere near the carotid artery on the front of the neck, so if that was the supposed issue, it's nil. But some blood meant for her brain is visible on her neck, and more yet is hidden in her impressive dreadlocks, and soaked into the brown top one of the fighters tugs on (that's why it's barely visible, and she looks more "half-naked" than she actually was).

Anyway, I don't see this as so obviously fatal that one should discount "someone who went to look for her" finding her alive but "seriously injured in the head." That sounds totally consistent with the visuals. She would be unconscious and appear dead, and would likely never recover. She may remain paralyzed or comatose, but alive, with - FWIW - skin regenerating daily rather than decaying. And that would explain her appearance in May, with no "miracle" required.  

If the famous captive Shani Louk was alive, you would think Hamas would say so or show us, but they never did. Still, we have the possibility of life, early reports of just that, and the appearance of life holding for 7.5 months. All that is not so easy to explain away.

Ricarda Louk: “It’s just horrific… it’s unimaginable what they did here. Everybody needs to know exactly and inform themselves what really happened.”

Indeed. It might be the other 3 were thought to be alive until then because, like Shani, they were. Maybe Hamas never reported their deaths because it came with the overrunning of a group in Jabaila. "Contact lost" with the group guarding prisoners X Y Z are sometimes reported, but not that I see in this case. Still, it seems likely enough considering the record so far. 

Other Signs of Life?

I did a quick search for related reports on the other 7 recently-found hostages. The best I found was regarding Shani's boyfriend Orion Hernandez: his father said in January: "“Hope obviously exists,” Hernández told CNN en Español this week. “We presume that he is alive because [his friends called] Orión’s phone, and a terrorist or a person from Hamas said that Orión was alive, that they had him prisoner and that he was going to be used as exchange for political purposes.”" Then, "A few days later, a general in the Israel Defense Forces confirmed to Hernández that his son was among the approximately 250 people taken hostage by Hamas," but not necessarily that he was alive. https://mexiconewsdaily.com/news/family-of-remaining-mexican-hostage-in-gaza-speaks-out/

That could have been a Hamas lie, considering the mentioned leverage is greater with a living body. Later, we would "learn" Orion died right away along with Shani. But we shouldn't be so sure of that.

I didn't find any other such clues. Mainly these people were listed missing, then found or assumed to be held hostage in Gaza, possibly alive or as a corpse. But that was a quick search. There may be more to find.

December 2: Israel somehow learns Ron Benjamin was not missing but held hostage in Gaza, status unspecified. His brother would say "I’m happy to hear he is a hostage.” https://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog_entry/family-of-ron-binyamin-missing-since-oct-7-informed-he-is-being-held-hostage-in-gaza/ On January 16 His daughter Shay Benjamin: “We know he is there and we have something to fight for,” she said. But beyond that, “we know nothing.” https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/story/2024-01-16/i-cant-give-up-families-of-hamas-hostages-share-stories-of-dread-and-hope-in-san-diego

Amit Buskila: an article https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/taken-captive-amit-buskila-heard-begging-terrorists-not-to-take-her/ar-AA1k5B0j and video https://x.com/bringhomenow/status/1721895199734104142 of last contact, a frantic call to her uncle - terrorists closing in, she was shot in the hand, acts like she's going to die, likely wasn't, but allegedly did. No contact or updates that I noticed until she was found dead. 

"On January 4th, 90 days since they last spoke to Hanan, the Yablonka family had been informed that Hanan is amongst those who are being held captive in Gaza," but not necessarily alive. https://x.com/bringhomenow/status/1784884025829597298

Michel Nisenbaum: Dec 6 "It took two months for authorities to determine what happened to him … he was likely abducted to the Gaza Strip and is being held hostage." https://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog_entry/family-of-michel-nisenbaum-sderot-resident-missing-since-oct-7-is-told-hes-in-gaza/

Itzhak Gelerenter: nothing of interest turned up quickly enough.


Another Few Cases?

"The families of two Thai hostages, Sonthaya Oakkharasr and Sudthisak Rinthalak, were informed on 16 May that they were killed during the 7 October attack and their bodies were being held by Hamas in Gaza." Hamas hostages: Stories of the people taken from Israel (bbc.com)

How do they learn this, at the same time they find and recover dead Israelis, but not recover these bodies? From collected intelligence, perhaps.

The same BBC article mentions two more suspected hostages to scratch off earlier in May, that I had noticed and then forgot: Lior Ruadaeff, 61, and Eylakim Libman, 23. Libman was reportedly discovered in Israel, presumably in tiny pieces. Or maybe like Shani, they found tiny pieces of a person who's in Gaza, maybe alive but missing some pieces? If so, did they find the pieces or kill the person in May as this call was made? Lior Rudaeff "went out to join the battle for the kibbutz, and later sent a message that he had been hurt. He sent his love to his wife, Yaffa, and his four children, and since then, all communication was lost." Sounds like a kidnapping, as he never turned up, but no news confirmed if he was held, alive or dead. Some news emerged May 7 and "The Hostages and Missing Families Forum issues a statement saying Rudaeff was killed on October 7 and his body was kidnapped by Hamas terrorists to the Strip, without details of how this was discovered."


Shani Louk's Abduction

"...a few minutes before 7 a.m. they called Magen David Adom. That call was recorded, in it Keshet asks them to come, says that his friend, Shani, is injured but conscious, and that there are a lot of damaged cars. A few minutes after 7 he called again and asked where they were and why they didn't come. Then we found out from Keshet's family that he was also injured, and at some point caught a ride and continued to another intersection, where he was killed. Orion stayed with Shani, in Mefalsim, which is really close to the Gaza border, and that's where they kidnapped them both." (Shani's friend Keshet Casarotti - boyfriend Orion Hernandez)  https://www.israelhayom.com/2024/02/12/she-left-something-for-the-world-drawings-of-shani-louk-turned-into-exhibition/

A girl with blond dreadlocks similar to Shani's was seen sheltering, with other ravegoers, behind an army tank (or "used as a human shield" by it) and widely taken as Shani. But this seems like a different girl with different attire (no brown top, just a black bra), a different face, and different dreads (thinner, blonder and more braided). That scene was located just north of Re'im, some 15km south of Mefalsim.  https://x.com/GeoConfirmed/status/1733315824704700649

Mefalsim, around 7 am - same time & place (north of the "dangerous curve" to the east into the rising sun) where "they" (presumably Hamas) shot Gal Abdush, the supposed rape victim seen with legs spread and partially burned. Her husband Nagi witnessed her injury and called in that she was "dying," with no mention of rape or burning, before he too was killed around 7:45. Michael Kobs on X: "The circumstances of Gal Abdush's death raise very serious questions indeed./ X (twitter.com) 

As Kobs notes, Mefalsim is "a small kibbutz that wasn't infiltrated but was successfully defended by its own armed settlers," raising the question if their aggressive defense killed anyone on the highway. It's the highway wrapping around the village where Hamas was apparently operating well, taking hostages from the traffic. Those found May 17 AND the 3 found May 24 were all said to be kidnapped from the Mefalsim area. Ron Benjamin was last heard from around 7:30 am, so about the same time the others saw trouble. IDF: Body of hostage Ron Benjamin recovered from Gaza, in addition to three others announced Friday | The Times of Israel Already by 7am "there are a lot of damaged cars" there (Keshet), just where Gal Abdush was shot by their damaged car, before any known Apache helicopter presence. It seems an open question who was to blame for the highway deaths, but likely enough it was mostly or all by Hamas, maybe in part to make a barrier from defensive fire out of the stalled cars. 

Other contested hostage updates

There was one woman - Hanna Katzir - that Hamas reported dead in November, to explain why she wasn't being released. But then she was released. That would certainly not be a good lie, and could be some honest mix-up. But it was taken as a lie and good reason to reject the same claim regarding Kfir & Ariel Bibas and their mother Shiri - Hamas lied about them too, but chose not to expose it by releasing these still-living prisoners, and that's exactly why it's thought Hamas still holds any children hostage.  

Above was mentioned 2 found December 12 (Aden Zakaria and Ziv Dado), thought to be alive but found dead. 

There are 2 more who, like Shani, were thought dead but then reported alive. Then at least one of them was reported dead again: 

Hamas captive Judith Weinstein was "confirmed" in December to have been injured on 10/7 and died soon after. But according to Hamas' Abu Obeida, she was treated for those injuries & lived, was then killed in April, with another prisoner, when Israeli bombing caused new injuries they could not treat with the siege's crippling of the medical system.  https://twitter.com/CL4Syr/status/1788712158752317693 - https://t.me/resistmirror1/5283 - https://t.me/resistmirror1/5284 - https://t.me/resistmirror1/5458 - https://t.me/resistmirror1/5457

They never mentioned Weinstein's survival until, they say, it was no more. But another prisoner said to be wounded in the same strike also died - Nadav Popplewell - and his death was soon confirmed. In his case, an image of him seemingly dead was released. But this was never done for Weinstein, so her case remains somewhat dubious. But to the extent it might be true, it's a precedent for Shani Louk surviving silently, for a while.

Another thought dead since 10/7, but reported alive, fate by now unclear: Col. Asaf Hamami

It was on December 2, 2023: IDF announces the death of Col. Asaf Hamami, 41, the commander of the Gaza Division’s southern brigade, although his remains were still held by Hamas. I'm not sure why they announced this then and didn't announce it earlier. Considering the above, he was initially missing, perhaps living as a hostage, and too high profile to write off easily. But then in December - as the one hostage deal was wrapped up and it was decided to excluded further deals, maybe it was decided to simplify things by writing off Col. Hamami as "dead or probably gonna be." Weinstein was also confirmed dead in December. Were all such question marks resolved then in the same way?

Hamas has never said anything public to the contrary before,  just the other day on May 23, a Hamas video suggests he may still be alive, while offering no evidence. Hamami was captured alive, they say, but "injured during his arrest." Suggesting an answer may be forthcoming, they ask "What is his fate now?" Added text: "A leadership leaves its army leaders in captivity!! Please don't worry about it!!" reminds the reader time is running out, your government is lying.  https://t.me/resistmirror1/6281

Reported separately at the same time: "Hxmas claims that it will release a recording of Colonel Asaf Hamami, whom Israel claimed was killed on October 7. According to Hxmas, he is injured and inside the Gaza Strip, and the recording will feature his voice without an image. This information comes from Arab networks reporting on behalf of Hamas just a minute ago. This is big news if true." https://x.com/Osint613/status/1793663530878607791

I'm skeptical. Such a high-profile captive, if he were one - yet no image to go with the voice, if they even have that - no confirmation or mention before now ... could be. Maybe he's too disfigured to show? Maybe they just never thought to mention him until now? Considering the record so far, maybe. I can only be skeptical here.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Pawns to Plow Over: How Netanyahu is Sacrificing the Last Israeli Hostages

By Adam Larson (aka Caustic Logic)

May 11, 2024

(rough, incomplete)

A post tracing out an important story like this should be done in a timely manner, so my old "rough, incomplete" posting style returns. ... some citations, hopefully no more details, some editing still planned.

Aside from about 2% who've been killed, nearly all of Gaza's people, around 1.4 million, are now forced into Rafah on the Egyptian border. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has all along promised to continue the fight into the city, to eradicate Hamas and make sure nothing like their October 7 attacks could ever happen again. As this seemed imminent, there was a new push in March and April for a hostages-and-ceasefire deal. But a final promising line failed, with both sides blaming each other, before the IDF began operations inside Rafah on May 7, evacuating some eastern districts, launching strikes there and beyond, and seizing the border crossing with Egypt, and vowing to continue despite the dramatic announcement of a freeze on (relevant) US-supplied weapons.

Netanyahu’s office would say the Hamas ceasefire plan he had just rejected “would appear to be a ruse intended to make Israel look like the side refusing a deal.” (Telegraph) But as this article will explain, the opposite may be true and in the most cynical way; after killing many of its own hostages, Israel demanded the release of more than there were still alive, and quite likely did this knowingly. With their impossible demand unmet, they could blame Hamas as they pursue the attack they wanted, at great peril to the remaining hostages and to every other person currently trying to survive in Rafah.

This is explained a little ways below. First, some optional context (may be slimmed down).

The First Days: Hostage Prevention, Then Hostage Sacrifice

When Hamas fighter/terrorists swept into Israeli territory on October 7 and started snatching people to take back to Gaza, it seems they tried to take far more than they finally did. Dozens or perhaps hundreds of captured citizens were killed, alongside their captors, by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) tank and helicopter fire in the overrun villages, army bases, a police station, at the Nova rave, and across the fields back to Gaza.  

This has been a sort of massive open secret from almost the beginning, as confirmed by the IDF itself, As Jonathn Cook would write for Middle East Eye, December 15: "This week the Israeli military finally conceded that it had killed its own civilians on October 7 "in immense and complex quantity”. Given the large numbers, it added with transparent non-logic: “It would not be morally sound to investigate these incidents.” 

While accidents are likely enough in such a scenario, it seems this "friendly fire" was at least partly intentional. This may have been a twisted new take on the IDF's controversial "Hannibal" directive: abductions must be prevented, even at the risk of killing a captive soldier, rather than to let him (or her) weaken Israel with a lopsided prisoner exchange. The policy was formally cancelled years ago, following the events of "Black Friday" in Rafah, 2014 (Al-Jazeera documentary), and it was never used for civilian captives. But an investigation by Israeli paper Yedioth Ahronoth found the Hannibal directive was effectively reactivated and expanded at noon on October 7, with the order to stop terrorists from returning to Gaza "at all costs." No exception is noted for the wide presence of hostages, including civilian ones, which was well known by then. (https://www.ynet.co.il/news/article/yokra13754368)

Some deadly fire by Apache helicopters preceded that order, while the first IDF tank attack on a commandeered house would only come around 5pm in Be'eri, according to the widely-cited survivors Yasmin Porat and Hadas Dagan. This may have been specially approved based on the existing order plus the appeal of killing an amazing 40 terrorists holed up in that house, at the known cost: 13 civilians, including two children, were killed. It was only after this that the policy was maybe expanded to settle other hostage standoffs. In some cases, hostages were rescued, but only by force - never by a deal. But many other houses in Be'eri and other villages would be blasted the same way over the following 2 days, with dozens or hundreds killed and no survivors allowed. 

So Israeli leadership seemingly decided they wanted as few hostages as possible to deal with or bring home. In the end, only some 250 people - civilian and military, Israeli and foreign - were successfully kidnapped into Gaza - some of them wounded by both sides' fire - before Israel started its bombing there just a few hours later. 

After a week of this brutal assault, Hamas was offering to negotiate. But as Times of Israel reported, October 14: National Security Council head Tzachi Hanegbi said “Israel will not hold negotiations with an enemy that we have vowed to wipe from the face of the earth,” These comments "prompted fury from the families of the missing," the Times reported, "with their spokesman accusing the government of abandoning them." After all, some of their kids and kin were stuck on that part of the Earth's face.

The following day, Netanyahu invited several of these family members to a hastily convened meeting. It was a private meeting, but someone secretly recorded the audio, which was later published by Uncaptured Media, with notes by Dan Cohen.

"Less than 20 minutes into the meeting, according to family members of captives who were there, an aide to Netanyahu entered the room and announced that another group of families of captives had arrived. Several religious Zionists, identifiable by their distinctive style of dress, then entered the room, none of whom were familiar to the families already inside."

"As those families would soon find out, Netanyahu, the group of religious Zionist latecomers, and a broader political network of extreme right-wing Kahanists, had fired the opening shot of a total psychological, political and media war against the families of the captives, seeking to demoralize and confuse them, and drown out their calls for negotiations with Hamas in the national cacophony of calls for vengeance."

These "latecomers" also had family killed or kidnapped, or missing and perhaps kidnapped, somewhere in Gaza. But they told the others they should trust the Prime Minister to ensure Israel's future, and not let their personal pain complicate the war effort. Tzvika Mor would say "more than I love my son, I love the people of Israel. ... Therefore I want to empower you [Netanyahu] and the entire war cabinet ... we trust you 200 percent.” Ohad Zvi Lapidot also highlighted the PM's leadership, staring to explain "there is a chess game, there are pawns..." but he was interrupted by several others, reminding him those were their children and loved ones, not Netanyahu's "pawns" to surrender for whatever strategy. 

At the meeting's end, Cohen writes, "Netanyahu boasted about the bombing campaign on Gaza, and insisted that though the defeat of Hamas was the overriding priority, the government would also seek the release of the captives." (see also: https://twitter.com/dancohen3000/status/1749587413796589859)

The following violence has killed nearly 2% of Gaza's population as it pushes them from one "safe zone" to the next, smashing almost everything along the way. It seems it has also killed many of the hostages. Hamas commander Abu Obeida would say on November 4: "more than 60 enemy prisoners" were killed in the intensive first weeks IDF bombing, with 23 of their bodies hopelessly buried in the rubble. (https://t.me/resistmirror1/218) No names or other specifics were offered, and the claim seems to be widely discounted by Israel. But to the extent this is true, it might be an accidental effect of the massive bombing, a piecemeal continuation of October 7's "friendly fire," or some of both.  

Israel began its ground invasion of Gaza on October 26. Haim Rubinstein, an advocate for hostage families, would tell Times of Israel in April, the families were not informed of this, and demanded a meeting that same day. Netanyahu evaded and then agreed but, as Rubinstein says, he "merely said a military operation in Gaza was needed to serve as leverage for the hostages’ release." But “We later found out that Hamas had offered on October 9 or 10 to release all the civilian hostages in exchange for the IDF not entering the Strip," Rubinstein says, "but the government rejected the offer.” They wanted to get them out with "leverage" instead. 

Rubinstein also said “There is no doubt that Netanyahu is preventing a deal," and accused the PM of "meddling in the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, in an attempt to divide [the families],” 

As they pushed for "leverage" and hostage release, the IDF managed to claim an early victory on October 30 with the "active rescue" of Private Ori Megidish. Questions surround this case; she was missing from initial listings of those kidnapped, only being added on the day of her rescue (Hala Jaber on X) and a supposed Hamas computer found in al-Shifa hospital had a public photo of pvt. Megidish as its wallpaper, as if to prove she had been there or in their hands (Younis Tirawi). But the supposed rescue provided "hope to millions of Israelis that more hostages can be released," as a spokesman said, even without striking any deals. 

Hopes aside, no more hostages were freed by any means before a November ceasefire and prisoner exchange deal that allowed 105 of them, mostly women and children, to be released alive and safely returned home. 

Hamas explained that Ariel and Kfir Bibas, ages 4 and 10 months (at kidnapping) had already been killed, along with their mother, in Israeli bombing, According to Al-Qassam and Al-Quds Brigades on Telegram, November 30: "The resistance offered to hand over the three bodies, but the occupation government refused to receive them and is still maneuvering and bargaining." Israel has generally dismissed this claim, insisting Hamas was still holding children - just these 2 - demanding they be brought home. 

Netanyahu Suddenly Takes an Interest

No more deals or releases followed before Israel managed, on February 12, to rescue two of its hostages (Fernando Simon Marman and Luis Har) by military force alone. Around 100 civilians were reportedly killed in this bold raid into Rafah city and in related military strikes. It was the only rescue since Megidish, and there haven't been any since. By force, Israel brough home two or maybe three of their hostages. Employing peace as well, they got 105.

That victory also helped to overshadow some bad news from the day before; two other hostages were killed in an airstrike, according to the Hamas-affiliated Al-Qassam and Al-Quds Brigades, with 8 more badly wounded (Telegram). Three of these reportedly died the following day, for a total of at least five killed (TG). The fate of the rest and the names of any of these victims were never reported. 

On February 11, as the 2 deaths were reported, Netanyahu was asked how many of the hostages remained. He didn't know exactly, but said it was "enough to warrant the kind of efforts that we're doing," perhaps meaning there were still too many and he planned to keep killing them off. (France 24)  

A few weeks later, on March 1 (TG), Hamas channels confirmed three deaths they had reported earlier (it may be November 18 that contact was lost with the group holding them (TG), or December 23 when the 3 were named (TG)). Now the men were shown (TG), speaking in an earlier video. They were named as Amiram Cooper, Chaim Peri, and Yoram Metzger (left-to-right here). These were senior men of "the generation who built the foundation" of Israel, as Mr. Peri put it, who helped launch the IDF and hoped to avoid dying now at its hands.

According to "a leading source in the Qassam [brigade]" and reported on the brigade's official website, one of these men, Yoram Metzger, was "a close friend of Netanyahu "according to his confessions" while in detention." (alqassam.ps) Their Telegram channel posted this provocative image of the Israeli PM crossing out a photo of Metzger. Notes in English, Hebrew and Arabic say: "Netanyahu abandoned his buddies to face their fate alone without saving them."

That claim isn't confirmed that I know of, but it was just at this time that Netanyahu seemed to grow suddenly intrigued about details of the hostages, like just how many were still alive. His government explicitly pressed for a list of who remained before agreeing to any more potential deals. By March 3 they were boycotting ongoing talks in Cairo until this demand was met.

RTE March 3:  "Israel, which has so far announced no plans to join the Egypt talks, has demanded Hamas provide it with a list of all 130 remaining captives, including more than 30 it fears are dead. One source briefed on the talks had said yesterday that Israel could stay away from Cairo unless Hamas first presented its full list of hostages who are still alive."

A cynical reading of this move: if the IDF had already killed most of its own hostages (and if this included Yoram Metzger?), the few remaining might be expendable enough to ignore, and the assault should continue. 

Feeling for the Point of No Return?

As if to test that possibility, Irael's demand for a full list shifted to a selection of 40 living hostages in the "humanitarian" category: women, children, older and sick men (or excluding healthy fighting age men). This should probably account for close to half the total, and people have been assuming there around 100 living hostages. If those assumptions are correct, 40 eligible people should be around.

The Guardian, March 4: "Israel has not sent a delegation to the second day of talks in Cairo, demanding that Hamas present a list of 40 elderly, sick and female hostages who would be the first to be released as part of a truce that would initially last six weeks, beginning with the month of Ramadan, the officials say."

Hamas had consistently demanded a permanent ceasefire and withdrawal of enemy forces, while Israel only offered a 6-week truce, and that only upon getting those 40 names. This wasn't resolved immediately, with the demand remaining the same and unmet a month later. Times of Israel April 8: According to unnamed Israeli officials "40 hostages would be freed under the first phase of the proposed deal, during a six-week truce," and the rest in due time. In return, "Israel would release 700 Palestinian security prisoners, including more than 100 serving life for attacks that killed Israelis." 

It sounded like a great deal, considering the alternatives. But even with a month since the demand was issued, Hamas finally replied, disturbingly, in the negative. CNN would report on April 10: Hamas has told international mediators – which include Qatar and Egypt - it does not have 40 living hostages who match those criteria for release, both sources said." ... "The inability - or unwillingness - of Hamas to tell Israel which hostages would be released, alive, is a major obstacle, the second source added." But as CNN noted, this revelation also raised "fears that more hostages may be dead than are publicly known.

Side-note: Both sources above fail to mention the release of any children, as they also switch to just living people. Have they finally acknowledged that Ariel and Kfir Bibas are gone, as they ask only for women and certain men? 

Israel then revised its demand, in a show of reasonableness. Acknowledging there may be more deaths than they assumed - but just a bit more - they could settle for 33 hostages and no less. Times of Israel, April 29: "Three Israeli officials confirm to The New York Times that Israel has dropped its demand that Hamas free 40 living hostages as part of a truce agreement and will now accept the release of 33 hostages. One of the officials says the shift was due to assessments that some of the 40 hostages whose release Israel was demanding have died in Hamas captivity." 

Side-note: Again, "The numbers relate to hostages in a so-called “humanitarian” designation" listed in the Times report as "women, children, men over 50, and those who are sick." Are they back to pretending Hamas holds living children? (here and above: it's not certain whose wording this is and what it means)

The shift to 33 was ostensibly meant to reflect the number of requested hostages who had already died. But if that was really the intent, it seems to have failed. Hamas would report back they didn't even have 33 relevant hostages.

This time they made a specific offer to release 33 hostages - apparently meaning all of those still alive, plus some of the dead. Times of Israel, May 7: "The New York Times reported Tuesday that the terror group had explicitly told mediators that some of the 33 hostages it would release under the first phase of the prospective deal would not be alive."

The report also notes "The Times said it was not clear whether the terror group had informed interlocutors how many of the 33 would be alive." Perhaps they did specify and it's the Israeli side keeping that from us, because Hamas had just offered to release nearly the demanded 33 - say 26 living hostages (see below) - plus the remains of 7 others, as the best they could do in trade for a 6-week delay on the offensive. But as the ToI report notes "the claim that even the 33 under discussion are not all alive appears to be a new walk-back by the terror group," and "A failure to release 33 living hostages would appear to conflict with Israeli demands." 

Indeed, the war cabinet was unsatisfied with this answer and took it as a last straw. The Telegraph, May 7"Israel rejected a ceasefire offer from Hamas on Monday night ... saying a last-minute proposal had failed to meet its key demands. ... and that it would continue with a planned ground invasion of Rafah “in order to apply military pressure to Hamas” and to free hostages." Tanks entered Rafah that same day. We'll see how that works out. 

"Mr Netanyahu’s office said it would send a negotiating team to Egypt to discuss an agreement, but officials earlier warned that the Hamas plan “would appear to be a ruse intended to make Israel look like the side refusing a deal” when really, he suggests, Hamas were the ones refusing to ... bring people back to life after his own forces killed them? As the next section will finally explain, it seems that, in its intensive assault on Gaza, Israel had killed so many of its own hostages that Hamas was not able to meet even the revised demand

The Tally: Too Small to Fit the Bill

The Guardian, March 4: "Diplomatic sources in Washington ... suggested" the failure to identify the initial 40 "could reflect problems of communication between Hamas units inside and outside Gaza, that some hostages could be held by other groups including Palestinian Islamic Jihad, or that elements of Hamas were withholding the information as a way of obstructing a deal." That too many have been killed isn't even mentioned as a possible reason.

But CNN's April 10 report would notes "CNN’s record of the conditions of the hostages also suggests there are fewer than 40 living hostages who meet the proposed criteria." I've been following this subject for months now, with one post here and some on X (Twitter), but I would point first to this detailed report in Hebrew from Ha-Makom. CNN's record seems to be accurate, and this may be highly relevant. 

Some hostages who made it to Gaza died early on from injuries sustained on October 7. Others were reportedly killed by IDF bombing, shooting, or from lack of food & medicine enforced by Israel, and even in a possible use of chemical weapons deployed in Hamas' tunnels (The Gray Zone). The bulk of these reported deaths came early. As mentioned above, Hamas commander Abu Obeida would say on November 4: "more than 60 enemy prisoners" were killed in the intensive first weeks IDF bombing, with 23 bodies buried in the rubble. None of those 60+ were named, and their exact number and dates of death all unclear. 

So here is my updated list of 39 named or specified fatalities following that announcement. Perhaps a few earlier deaths here were included in the 60+, but most clearly came after it, so that the full total who've died is probably less than 99+, but not by much.


28 reportedly and likely killed in IDF attacks on/in Gaza  

6+ following/caused by injury on Oct. 7 (possibly by IDF, if mainly by Hamas)

2+ medical neglect/lack of food (likely worsened by Israeli blockade)

3 unclear, and 0 proven Hamas executions.

Side-note on the 2 most recent additions (Judith Weinstein, unnamed Nadav Popplewell) these are more questionable than most, but worth adding to this list of reported deaths. see: Adam Larson #EndtheOPCWCoverup #FreeAssange onX - https://t.me/resistmirror1/5283 - https://t.me/resistmirror1/5284 - https://t.me/resistmirror1/5458 - https://t.me/resistmirror1/5457

The total number still alive is harder to know. Chabad.org maintains a list (last updated May 6) of hostages held, those released or rescued, those killed with bodies recovered, and those killed and still held, all arranged for the appropriate prayers. This gives 87 hostages thought to be alive (it was 96 at one point) and 36 bodies, presumably confirmed as such, which they want returned. That totals 123 - a bit less than the 130+ usually cited as hostages still held by Hamas. (Chabad also lists 19 recovered bodies and 108 released alive = total 250.)

The 87 living hostages Chabad lists includes 10 11 people named by Hamas channels as killed in Israeli attacks or by their siege (Bibas, Bibas, Bibas, Cooper, Peri, Metzger, Dancyg, Elgarat, Buchstab, Weinstein, Popplewell). Subtracting those leaves at most 77 76 that probably are alive.

The 60+ killed in the first month and the 5 reportedly killed in February remain unnamed (at least 66). With no names given, we cannot check if any on that huge 60+ pool are already listed among the confirmed deaths. Therefore, a maximum, where all those reported deaths are also confirmed (unlikely) could leave up to that full 76. A minimum where all those remain unconfirmed would leave only 9, or less yet if others have since died. 

A most-likely middle range with 35-55 unconfirmed deaths to subtract would mean somewhere between 21 and 41 hostages remain alive, in total, or perhaps less by now.

However, the latest deals focus on hostages in a the “humanitarian” designation — women, any children, and men over 50 or who are sick. I tried to list all by age and gender, using 2 lists, and hopefully not missing anyone. As listed, 37 hostages thought to be alive that fit the bill for age and gender. Subtracting the named ten who were probably killed = a maximum of 28 27 eligible hostages still alive. Here are all of these (listed by last name). Some or most of these people could very well have been free by now. It seems that Hamas had offered to free them.

name                    age        female?
AlZayadni Yosef  53
Albag Liri  18 f
Alkadi Qaid Farhan 53
Argamani Noa  26 f
Ariev Karina  19 f
Ben Ami Ohad  55
Benjamin Ron  53
Berger Agam  19 f
Buskila Esther Amit 28 f
Damari Emily         27 f
Gat Carmel 39 f
Gelerenter Itzhak 56
Gilboa Daniella 19 f
Idan Tsachi 51
Kalderon Ofer 53
Levy Naama 19 f
Lifshitz Oded 83
Mansour Shlomo 85
Mozes Gadi Moshe 79
Munder Abraham 78
Nisenbaum Michel 59
Popplewell Nadav 51
Rudaeff Lior 61
Sharabi Eli 51
Siegel Samuel Keith 64
Steinbrecher Doron 35 f
Yehoud Arbel 28 f
Yerushalmi Eden 24 f

This is not subtracting any of the 60+ first reported deaths, so there are probably even less than this. But then any fighting-age males (not listed here) who are sick enough to qualify will add to this. They might all be sick and probably malnourished, and could maybe be called sick, but there may not be very many left. Those killed is likely the higher number, leaving the tally of eligible and surviving hostages unclear but almost surely less than 27. 

The state of Israel will have more detailed information, but they might have reached a similar conclusion. They likely weren't sure when they asked in March how many were still alive, and might have been genuinely feeling it out when they asked for 40, then 33. But it seems quite likely they had some idea and were intentionally demanding more living hostages than there were, Hoping that no one would realize that, Netanyahu could strike a pose as making offer after "reasonable" offer that he knew could never be met - a "ruse," you could say, just to have Hamas "refuse" and all the death to follow seem like their fault. 

Either way, at less than 33 fit for release, it was clear the IDF had killed enough of its own people that they didn't need to bother with the rest. It was time to commence the assault on Rafah, at whatever risk to the few still with us. 

Left to be Plowed Over

It's not clear who remains, but the hostages seen alive most recently have the best case for remining that way now. These are the nine 11 I have noted, listed chronologically.

1 Naama Levy, a socially conscious young recruit famously seen in bloodied pants (most likely unrelated to any rape), was perhaps seen alive after an IDF strike in November, being hurriedly moved by some civilian men to an unclear, maybe safer location. https://twitter.com/MatamalasJ/status/1736431066188013571

2 Yarden Bibas was seen in a video posted November 30, lamenting that IDF bombing killed his wife Shiri and 2 young sons, and (under general duress, of course) asking to be brought home rather than join them. https://t.me/resistmirror1/654

3 Noa Argamani, perhaps the most famous face of the October 7 abductions was seen in a video posted January 15/16. She was alive and well but with shrapnel injuries (she says) after two IDF strikes. One strike killed fellow captive Yossi Sharabi, then Itay Svirsky was killed in another (plus however many of the Hamas men guarding them, and whoever else was killed in each incident). She complained then of a lack of food and water, and she does not look overfed. It's nearly four months later now.

4,5,6,7,8 the military girls Karina Ariev, Daniella Gilboa, Doron Steinbrecher, Liri Albag, and Agam Berger were shown is some videos in January. On the 7th, Albag, Ariev, Berger, and Gilboa (https://twitter.com/MarioNawfal/status/1744371471953084681) were seen variously injured and terrified, but it was old footage from "hours after their October 7 kidnapping." (the video is said to be Hamas-released, but it doesn't appear on the usual Telegram channel - it may be unreleased footage that soldiers found during the war) A few weeks later, on the 26th, Hamas clearly released a video of  Ariev, Gilboa, and a new face - Steinbrecher - in better shape and speaking at some length in a new video. I'm not sure what they say, but they say it with apparent conviction. (https://t.me/resistmirror1/3434) Liri Albag and Agam Berger failing to re-appear might be a bad sign.

9 Hersh Goldberg-Polin, a US dual-national abducted from Nova rave after having his left hand blown off by a Hamas grenade. He was seen speaking in a video published on April 24, cursing Netanyahu for abandoning him, with a fierceness that doesn't seem coached. He shows the stump where Hamas took his hand, and where their surgeons seem to have fixed it up pretty well. He might remain bitter, but it's not what threatens to kill him. As Hersh says in the video, IDF bombs have already killed "about 70 detainees like me." That may be a total killed just by bombing - others reportedly died from IDF shooting and other methods, including in a possible use of chemical weapons deployed in Hamas' tunnels. (https://twitter.com/WarMonitors/status/1783135612758855722 - https://t.me/resistmirror1/5110)

10,11 Keith Siegel (another US dual-national), and Omri Miran were seen speaking, and Siegel openly weeping, just a few days later, on April 27.

https://twitter.com/sentdefender/status/1784309485298651272 -  - https://t.me/resistmirror1/5135

Finally, on May 10 it was announced on the Hamas telegram channel "A few days ago, in the last moments, we rescued an enemy prisoner after he attempted to commit suicide where he was captured. We hold the enemy and Netanyahu personally fully responsible for the deterioration of the physical and mental health of some enemy prisoners #Time_is_running_out" https://t.me/resistmirror1/5404

These 11 people were alive last we saw, however long ago that was. It's likely at least one of these has since been killed, or has killed themself, but there are others that still want to come home, and have loved ones who want that dearly. But it seems Benjamin Netanyahu - "Satanyahu" - insists on playing twisted games with their fate, making it depend on Hamas' ability to meet "reasonable" yet impossible demands.

Instead, it's on to the next phase of genocide - making life for everyone stuck in Gaza impossible - hopefully forcing their long-favored solution of expelling Gaza's Arab population and making the place their own. They might plan to build a shorter and cheaper Ben Gurion canal right across Rafah, and perhaps to build new Jewish cities atop the rubble of Old Gaza. They won't care much about all the still-missing Palestinians buried in shreds far below, but they might find it uncomfortable to build on top of their own people, recalling how they consented to Netanyahu's plowing over those "pawns" along the way.

Friday, March 8, 2024

Thoughts on the UN Report and What it Shows about October 7 Rape Claims

March 8, 2024

A Report from "the Viagra Lady"

Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict: "Mission report: Official visit of the Office of the SRSG-SVC to Israel and the occupied West Bank" 29 January – 14 February 2024 - PDF link:  https://news.un.org/en/sites/news.un.org.en/files/atoms/files/Mission_report_of_SRSG_SVC_to_Israel-oWB_29Jan_14_feb_2024.pdf

Press release: ‘Clear and convincing information’ that hostages held in Gaza subjected to sexual violence, says UN Special Representative - UN News, 4 March, 2024 - https://news.un.org/en/story/2024/03/1147217

The UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, "following a 17-day visit to Israel ... reported on Monday that she and a team of experts had found “clear and convincing information” of rape and sexualized torture being committed against hostages seized during the 7 October terror attacks" and also "reasonable grounds to believe that conflict-related sexual violence occurred in multiple locations" during the October 7 attacks themselves. The latter is something I've analyzed here in some detail: Monitor on Massacre Marketing: Words Without Truth: How the New York Times Helped Netanyahu Weaponize Sexual Violence Allegations Against the People of Gaza

It's worth noting how, in 2022, Ms. Paten was caught laundering Ukrainian claims (seemingly recycled from Libya, 2011) that Russian troops were issued a Viagra equivalent to enhance their systematic rape of Ukrainian women. She passed this on as fact, but later admitted it likely wasn't true, and how she was handed these claims and did little or nothing to verify them. "I have an advocacy mandate," she explained. "My role is not to investigate.” Others at the UN did the investigating, and "in their reports so far, there’s nothing about Viagra." 

As then, Paten's mission to Israel "was not investigative in nature." It "was not intended to be, and is not a substitute for, an investigation by relevant United Nations entities mandated for that purpose, nor is it a replacement for criminal investigations and proceedings subject to due process of law." [25] The report also notes "the absence of United Nations entities operating in Israel, as well as the lack of cooperation by the State of Israel with relevant United Nations bodies with an investigative mandate." [55]

Press release: "Ms. Patten’s recommendations include a call for the Israeli Government to grant full access to the UN human rights office (OHCHR) and the Human Rights Council-mandated independent Commission of Inquiry on the occupied territory “to conduct fully-fledged independent investigations into all alleged violations.” 

But so far, they haven't done these things. Instead, it seems Israel only wanted some "advocacy" from "the Viagra lady," as they might have seen it, the one with no power to actually investigate. Interesting. 

But it should be noted that the Mission did apply at least some scrutiny to some of the provided information, even discounting some claims. It could be called an investigation, but technically it isn't. What they collect could be called evidence, but they call it "information." It's handled less formally, and ... something. I don't fully get the distinctions here, but it's discussed in the press conference (video at the top link). Their findings have less authority than those of a proper investigation, for one thing. 

Report Content: Still "No Medical, No Video - Just Words"

The report claims to draw on the mission's 33 meetings with "Israeli representatives," 34 "confidential interviews including with survivors and witnesses of the 7 October attacks, released hostages, first responders and others," and their "examining more than 5,000 photographic images and 50 hours of video footage." Due to the Israeli refusal to cooperate with the UN probes, "information gathered by the mission team was in a large part sourced from Israeli national institutions." [55] 

Right: Paten in Israel, next to Yossi Landau, southern region director of rescue group ZAKA, and a major producer of October 7 atrocity hoaxes (Israel MFA via Electronic Intifada)

The mission heard about alleged Israeli abuses of Palestinians in the West bank since October 7, including threats of rape, beatings in the genitals, unwanted touching, and "inappropriate strip search and prolonged forced nudity." They were not in verification mode for these reports, and made no visit to the Gaza war zone. The report notes that other UN agencies are working on these aspects, and of course they were never the subject of the Israeli pressures that prompted this mission.

The external focus has been on alleged abuses of Israelis by Palestinians, on October 7 and since. As the report concludes, the mission found "clear and convincing information that some hostages taken to Gaza have been subjected to various forms of conflict-related sexual violence," and they had "reasonable grounds to believe that such violence may be ongoing." This was "based on the first-hand accounts of released hostages," with no supporting evidence mentioned (not that much would be expected).

Released hostages Mia Schem and Agam Goldstein-Almog have given evidence for rape (of someone else), or a culture of it (barely restrained by a jealous wife) under Hamas captivity. But both did so after first speaking in a much different tone, or giving different details, and failing to mention or even hint at this dark side. Other former hostages have said they witnessed someone else being raped or the like, with no differing accounts to contrast. But that doesn't mean they are any more truthful. 

None of them are absolutely, necessarily false, but at least some hostage accounts are quite dubious, and it's quite possible all of them are concocted under pressure - external or internal - from the same "Israeli representatives" pressing for and guiding this UN mission. 

As for October 7 itself, the mission was able to "verify" at least one "incident of the rape of a woman outside of a bomb shelter" but heard "other allegations of rape that could not yet be verified." [13] Perhaps the one case was "verified" as in proven true, and perhaps other cases sit fully ready to join it. But by and large, it seems this comes from a policy of giving supposed witnesses the benefit of the doubt wherever it's possible, not just where it's warranted. It's almost like this is some UN Human Rights mandate - a supposed witness can NEVER lie, unless that winds up undeniably, 100% proven.  

October 7 rape claims are reasonably believable, according to the UN mission, "based on the examination of available information, including credible statements by eyewitnesses" and nothing else they mention. [58] It's not clear how they define a witness statement as "credible," but so far the public has only heard from the other kind. And regarding those they worked with...

"It must be noted that witnesses and sources with whom the mission team engaged adopted over time an increasingly cautious and circumspect approach regarding past accounts, including in some cases retracting statements made previously. Some also stated to the mission team that they no longer felt confident in their recollections of other assertions that had appeared in the media." [64]

Some witnesses changed their stories after theirs and others' were exposed as lies. Indeed, that must be noted.

The report does not mention any autopsies or medical evidence they saw to support the rape claims. It still seems Israel never gathered such evidence at all, perhaps for fear of discovering a negative answer.

The mission's call is also based on no video evidence: "no digital evidence specifically depicting acts of sexual violence was found in open sources" [77] and "in the medicolegal assessment of available photos and videos" - including those provided by Israeli sources - "no tangible indications of rape could be identified." [74] In "5,000 photographic images and 50 hours of video footage," including from Hamas body cameras, there was ZERO "tangible indications of rape" the mission could find. And they tried. So have the Israelis, and they give no indication of having found anything either. 

As I noted before; it's not that this stuff definitely never happened, but it seemingly never happened in front of a camera, which would be odd given the alleged scale of the abuse. It leaves wide open the possibility that all these "credible" but shifting accounts are simply lies.

Some Specific Claims Addressed

"The medicolegal assessment of available photos and videos revealed multiple corpses with injuries, predominantly gunshot wounds, including to intimate body parts such as breasts and genitalia. Because in most instances additional injuries were also seen on other body parts, no discernible pattern of genital mutilation could be established. [76] That's what I was asking, and what Schwartz and crew for the New York Times refused to consider when they wrote of "a video, provided by the Israeli military, showing two dead Israeli soldiers at a base near Gaza who appeared to have been shot directly in their vaginas." I added these injuries were "perhaps among other shots to every part of the body, or perhaps in the targeted way they suggest." The UN Mission found that, for the most part, these were just incidental parts of some body-wide shooting. 

They also considered the reports of a woman found, bound on a bed with a "sharp object" or "knife" left in her vagina, or as the Times put it, citing a provided photo, with "dozens of nails driven into her thighs and groin." All agree she was found in a home in Be'eri that was explosively collapsed, but they agree that had nothing to do with her injuries. In contrast to the Times' reporters, the UN mission found this claim "could not be verified by the mission team due in large part to the limited availability and low quality of imagery." [65] 

They heard from "other credible sources" about women, especially around the Nova music festival, partly or totally naked, "with some gunshots in the head and/or tied including with their hands bound behind their backs and tied to structures such as trees or poles.[58] "The mission team was also able to ascertain that multiple bodies of women and a few men were found totally or partially naked or with their clothes torn, including some bound and/or attached to structures, which – though circumstantial – may be indicative of some forms of sexual violence." [60]

Some went to the rave almost naked and were later found dressed just the same way. Charred, mutilated bodies with torn clothing may indicate Hamas violence or Israeli tank or helicopter fire, which is now understood to kill an unclear but significant number of civilians. Some victims might wind up flung against and then "attached to" some structures, for example. Otherwise, maybe these images (which we haven't seen) do show the results of Hamas raping women and even men, during some breaks in the fighting. Or it seems quite possible some ZAKA types, who would have more time on their hands, stripped some bodies and tied them up to look that way. 

Paragraph 14 and 65 combined explain: "The mission team conducted a visit to kibbutz Be’eri and was able to determine that at least two allegations of sexual violence widely repeated in the media, were unfounded due to either new superseding information or inconsistency in the facts gathered ...  including first responder testimonies, photographic evidence and other information." 

The "sharp objects" claim above is a third claim from Be'eri they could neither confirm nor refute. But they were forced to dismiss these other two claims.

Paragraph 65 continues to specify "the allegation of a pregnant woman whose womb had reportedly been ripped open before she was killed, with her fetus stabbed while still inside her."  It's not explained how they discounted this story, almost as if it were fit to dismiss out-of-hand. And it probably is, but it seems to fall under "inconsistency in the facts gathered" - one of two reasons given to discount two claims. 

This bizarre claim was originally lodged, it seems, by ZAKA's Yossi Landau (to Paten's left in the photo above), and has been debunked by Ha'aretz and others, including (and especially well) by myself, based on inconsistent facts. Most note that no pregnant woman was reportedly killed on October 7, making for an easy case. I was able to add a later report of one pregnant woman that was reportedly killed, and she fit some reported details of this story (aged ~30 & 4 months pregnant), but with a different true story; she was killed randomly in a grenade attack at a roadside shelter after fleeing the Nova rave. She was not slaughtered at a house in Be'eri, where she did not live, nor in front of children that weren't even born yet (that was to be her first). 

Paragraph 65 continues to the second refuted allegation: 

"Another such account was the interpretation initially made of the body of a girl found separated from the rest of her family, naked from the waist down. It was determined by the mission team that the crime scene had been altered by a bomb squad and the bodies moved, explaining the separation of the body of the girl from the rest of her family." 

The Sharabi Girls: Who was Where?

Here we must pause. This almost surely refers to one of the Sharabi sisters, Yahel (13) or Noiya (16), and probably to Yahel. Both were REPORTEDLY seen as apparent rape victims, in the only scene remotely similar to this that has been reported. But in most versions, there were two girls found. 

Military paramedic "G" has claimed to several sources he saw the bodies of two girls in a bedroom, separated from any parents or guardians. One was face-down on the floor with "pajama pants pulled to her knees, bottom exposed, semen smeared on her back," alongside another girl on the bed, with "boxer shorts ripped, bruises by her groin." [NYT] The Times report found these girls had the same ages (13 and 16) as the only sisters reportedly killed in Be'eri, Yahel and Noiya Sharabi.

This paramedic's story is challenged, but in two different ways. One of these versions can hardly be true, but neither can be discounted just yet. 

First, some reports cited by the Gray Zone, then the Intercept, and seemingly supported by the girls' grandparents, have the girls dying in the embrace of their mother, not separated and raped.

The GrayZone cited The Times of Israel:  "Family said that the bodies of the three women, who all held dual UK-Israeli citizenship, were found in an embrace." But for what it's worth, the only family they mention hearing from is "Lianne’s parents, Gill and Pete Brisley."

A BBC report along these lines also heard, exclusively, from the grandparents in Bristol, and they heard this exclusively from "a soldier" who says he found the girls: "Mrs Brisley said they later found out the bodies of their daughter and grandchildren had been found by a soldier "all cuddled together with Lianne doing what a mother would do - holding her babies in her arms, trying to protect them at the end". 

The Intercept would later add how all 3 ladies “were just shot — nothing else had been done to them," according to "their grandmother Gillian Brisley," speaking to Israeli Channel 12. “They were found between the ‘mamad’” — the house’s safe room — “and the dining room and it’s an awful thing to say, they were just shot — nothing else had been done to them. They were shot,” said Gillian Brisley. “A soldier said he saw our daughter” — the girls’ mother — “but she was covering the two girls and they were shot,” added her husband, Pete, the girls’ grandfather." 

Again, this is what the soldier told the grandparents. For all we know, he may be the same soldier/paramedic G, giving them and the outside world two different stories. Or perhaps it's another soldier. But no matter how many sources the claim gets repeated to, it remains questionable, considering there's another version backed, it seems, by the new UN report.

The Intercept, referring to the girls only by initial, noted how "N was initially reported missing for two weeks because her body had yet to be formally identified." This refers to the alternate version where the older sister, Noiya, was considered missing and possibly kidnapped, ten days after the massacre. 

The Sun (UK tabloid), October 17, speaking with family members and visiting the home, reported "It has been confirmed Yahel died alongside her mum Lianne while her sister Noiya, 16, dad Eli, 51 and uncle Yossi, 53 were missing or kidnapped." No third body, identified or not, is mentioned as being found in their home. I had read this as excluding her from the house - she was somewhere else, perhaps abducted to another house with others, where they were killed alongside their captors. But perhaps she was here the whole time and they just thought that was someone else's body?

The Sun: "A hallway where a huge blackened smear of blood appears to be the spot where Lianne died. And upstairs, another bloodstain tells its horror story in a room where Yahel slept — heavily staining the carpet close to a pair of pink pyjamas and vanity case." There's some blood visible on the floor, or at least on a rug edge (?) and some light blue cloth there, despite it being kept mainly off-frame.

Noiya was finally identified a few days after The Sun report, on October 22 (Guardian) or 10/23 (Jewish News).

When he spoke to Republic TV (India), on or by October 25, G might have hinted that one of his "girls" was - or had been - missing (Eylon Levy posting). He specifies "2 girls," but mainly ignores one to focus on "the girl" who was "laying on her bed - on the floor" (correcting himself), left to lie "in the blood of her ... in a pile/puddle of blood." Was he about to say "the blood of her sister," but realized she wouldn't be there? If so, why include her in the scene at all? And either way, it's his later accounts (CNN & NYT in December) that he's plenty clear on both victims being teenage girls, and both being in this room. So maybe I just imagined those clues.

The girls' uncle, Sharon Sharabi, does not come down clearly supporting either story. He told The Intercept “To tell you concretely what happened in Be’eri, or what happened at the house of the Sharabi family, I don’t have an answer for you ... There is certainly no credible information I can give you, only testimonies of ZAKA or of military personnel who arrived at the scene first and saw the atrocities. So any information I might give you is information that I’m not confident about, and therefore I would rather not give it [at all].” 

"He added, “I’ve heard all the versions. What’s the truth? I don’t know.” Sharabi emphasized that he firmly believes there was widespread sexual violence committed during the attacks of October 7," but he won't endorse unreliable information from ZAKA or the IDF. And this is why uncle Sharon doesn't write for the New York Times. 

The rest of us should feel no better informed than he is, and maintain an open mind, for what it's worth, regarding what happened in that house that day.

Kibbutz Be'eri spokesperson Michal Paikin also denied the rape(s), telling The Intercept “the Sharabi girls ... were shot and were not subjected to sexual abuse.” But Paikin did not address this controversy of who was found where.

Finally, the UN report seems to support the sidelined "Sun" version; that a single girl was "found separated from the rest of her family" is presented as a fact, which they have a specific explanation for: "the crime scene had been altered by a bomb squad and the bodies moved, explaining the separation of the body of the girl from the rest of her family." 

Was she found with the others, then moved, and later found separate? But not the other sister? Did they just infer that, or is this based on relevant, factual details they learned? Two reasons are given for dismissing two claims, and this one seem to be due to "new superseding information." New information. Let's take careful note.

And let's ask WHY would a bomb squad be moving bodies around? Does a girl's corpse need carried upstairs before you can be sure there's no tripwire attached?

So now the girl is said to be alone, her sister still downstairs or missing somewhere else. There's still no great reason to believe G's description that included two girls, but let's consider, as this semi-informed new report also states as fact the one was found "naked from the waist down." A story including that also has what seemed to be semen smeared on her backside, in that position. This would mean she - or her body - was raped in that room. And if this rape came after her body was moved there, for whatever reason, by members of an Israeli bomb squad... it might suggest someone on that team, or someone they cover for, raped the girl's corpse. 

One question about the claim arises: If Yahel's body was moved upstairs from an original spot, it seems unlikely that much blood would it shed on the floor upstairs; once the heart stops beating, bodies only bleed passively. 

OR if the other version is true, and she was always cuddled with her mother and unidentified sister downstairs, then whose blood is that visibly on the floor upstairs? Maybe neither story is true, the room is where Yahel was killed, with no cuddling but also no rape.

In that case, the bomb squad story was ... some kind of misunderstanding? It's an awkward story, but it might help cover for an even worse one. Let's consider what if a rescuer with ZAKA or some elite military unit had assaulted the girl's corpse, and this became known to Israeli officials. They might want to back off the rape claim entirely, in the most convenient way - cite that mother's embrace story one of their soldiers originally told. But if they also knew the same body was seen upstairs alone, they might  choose to suggest mother's embrace, so no rape, then moved upstairs and still no rape - obviously, since Hamas was long gone by then. They would be throwing the paramedic's account under the bus, but it seems to be there already, so why not? Then maybe a bomb squad seemed like the best explanation for that move. Although the supposed reasoning isn't clear, I also can't think of anything better.  

Side-note: State of bodies

“Lianne and Yahel could only be identified through DNA samples. Noiya was identified through her teeth only two days ago.”


Uncle Sharon Sharabi gave it the other way around, speaking to The Intercept: “Lianne and [Y] were only identified through dental records, and [N] by DNA,” he said. 

Either way, this suggests their bodies were in a poor state that's not clearly explained. Max Blumenthal wondered at the GrayZone "if their bodies were, in fact, burned beyond recognition" and, if so, "how was the paramedic “G” able to detect semen on one of the girls, and bruises on the other, and view their states of undress"? But for what it's worth, in the Sun's photos, the home doesn't appear badly damaged or burned, so that may not be the explanation. This remains another open question about this case.