Israeli Rescue Operation Massacres Hundreds of Palestinians, Top Military and Political Leaders Resign

Nuseirat Refugee Camp, Gaza, Palestine — Nearly 300 Palestinians were killed and over 700 wounded during a large-scale Israeli military operation to recover four hostages held by Hamas in the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza on June 8. Gaza’s health ministry said 64 children, 57 women, and 37 elderly people were among those killed to secure the four Israelis.

More than 37,084 Palestinians have been reported killed by Israel in the past eight months, over 15,000 of them children, and more than 10,000 people are reported missing under the rubble. On the Israeli side at least 1,139 Israelis have been killed and at least 8,730 are reported injured as of June 9.

Unicorn Riot was on the ground in the Nuseirat refugee camp documenting family members bidding farewell to their loved ones killed by the Israeli military, see the video below.

The operation, which had been planned for weeks, was carried out mid-day and featured hours of air strikes from Israeli drones and warplanes along with a ground assault of hundreds of soldiers including Shin Bet intelligence and Yamam (Israeli counter-terrorism border police) agents. Witnesses claim Israeli military, including women disguised as Palestinians, posed as displaced Gazans or as Hamas fighters as they drove a car loaded with mattresses to enter the refugee camp. The commonly used undercover Israeli military mista’arvim unit is specifically designed for Israelis to “disguise themselves as Arabs” to infiltrate Palestinian neighborhoods.

Further reports say Israeli special forces in Gaza masqueraded with an aid truck to sneak into the refugee camp; another report claimed Israeli military personnel wore Hamas military uniforms, helmets, and badges when they started their operation. Israel has denied those claims.

The U.S. said they assisted in the operation with intelligence and publicly denied that the Gaza aid pier was used in the rescue operation. Centcom stated, “the humanitarian pier facility, including its equipment, personnel, and assets were not used in the operation to rescue hostages today in Gaza. An area south of the facility was used by the Israelis to safely return the hostages to Israel.” In a mid-May political maneuver, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) put forth a bill attempting to force the White House to shut down the aid pier under the 1973 War Powers Act, which governs how much the President can deploy the Pentagon worldwide absent legislation from Congress. (It was originally aimed at pressuring Richard Nixon over his ‘secret war’ bombing campaign in Cambodia.)

Widely circulated media showed the Israeli helicopter involved in the hostage operation nearly adjacent to the humanitarian pier structure built by the U.S. Defense Department. Centcom described this as “an area south of the facility.”

Israel’s Chief Inspector of the counter-terrorism unit, Arnon Zmora, was killed by Hamas fighters during the operation, which Israel renamed from “Seeds of Summer” to “Operation Arnon” after his death. At least 13 Israeli solders were injured in battles over the weekend, according to Haaretz. At least 646 Israeli soldiers and 63 police officers have been killed in the ongoing war on Gaza.

All four of the rescued Israeli captives were taken hostage from the Nova music festival. Noa Argamani, 26, who had become a figurehead of the hostage movement, along with Andrey Kozlov, 27, Shlomi Ziv, 41, and Almog Meir Jan, 22, appeared smiling and in good health.

Unicorn Riot Coverage from Palestine

Since the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel and hostage taking, over 105 captives were released by Hamas in negotiations in November and seven have been rescued by Israeli forces. Around 120 captives from Israel are reportedly still being held in the Gaza Strip and 43 captives are said to have died. A February raid rescued two Israeli hostages and killed at least 74 Palestinians. After the rescue operation-turned-massacre, Hamas’ military wing, Qassam Brigades released a video alleging three Israeli captives were killed by Israel during the operation, including a U.S. citizen.

Thousands of Palestinians have been taken captive in Gaza over the last eight months, into a decades-old military administrative detention system without trials or sentences. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society reports that in the occupied West Bank alone, nearly 9,000 Palestinians have been taken captive by Israel; B’Tselem reports more than 200 minors.

Over two million forcibly displaced Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip face indiscriminate bombings, little-to-no medical attention and an increased risk of famine and starvation. As Israeli military and Zionist settlers continue to destroy and block aid trucks from entering Gaza to bring humanitarian aid, air drops like those seen in the video below are becoming a normal occurrence.

Political and Military Shake-ups in Israel

In Tel Aviv, Israeli police used water cannons on protesters in a movement urging the government for months to reach a ceasefire and release the remaining hostages; 33 people were arrested. Israeli Dr. Udi Baharav was violently arrested while treating a protester, spurring condemnations from medical groups and politicians.

On the political side, the “centrist” wing of the decision-making war cabinet resigned. Benny Gantz, the country’s National Unity Party leader, announced his resignation from Israeli’s war cabinet along with Gadi Eisenkot and Yehiel Moshe “Hili” Tropper. Both Gantz and Eisenkot served as the Chief of Staff of the military during the 2010’s.

The “Israeli Defense Forces” (IDF) faces a shake-up also. Israeli media released leaks from a general staff meeting which revealed dissent is growing in the once-unified leadership ranks, suggesting Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi may have to resign. The IDF Gaza Division commander Brigadier-General Avi Rosenfeld, Israel’s top general in charge of the Gaza Strip, resigned, saying that he had “failed in [his] life’s mission” by not protecting Israelis on October 7. This follows the chief of the Military Intelligence Directorate quitting in April. Brig. Gen. Barak Hiram was previously in line to be the next commander of the Gaza Division until he ordered a tank to fire on Israeli houses near the Gaza Strip on Oct. 7, killing at least 13 Israelis, part of the IDF’s lethal pattern of destruction within Israel which was not reported in American media at the time.

After centrist Israeli politician Benny Gantz resigned from the war cabinet on Sunday, ultra-nationalist far-right Zionist National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir demanded his vacant seat, even signing the letter as the “Minister of Defense.” (Ben-Gvir is known to be sympathetic to the Kahanist movement responsible for acts of violence against civilians and once featured a portrait of venerated mass murderer Baruch Goldstein in his home).

Gantz urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to call for early elections; he claimed Netanyahu is preventing victory.

With Israel failing to defeat Hezbollah in the north, leaving thousands of civilians displaced, and the war on Gaza not effectively dismantling Hamas or other groups, some observers believe Gantz was discrediting himself and his political prospects by staying in the war cabinet. Some polls show likely voters swinging back to Netanyahu’s camp away from Gantz.

Gaza War Spillover: Lebanon’s Silent Displacement Crisis

Former Israeli diplomat Alon Pinkas explained in Haaretz [2] that “In his mind, [Gantz] was the responsible adult in a government filled with inept and messianic misfits. … The longer Gantz remains in the government, the weaker Gantz will get. The more identical his positions are to those of the prime minister, the more he’ll lose on both sides. Right-wingers will return home and centrists will seek other options.” Gantz was also known to be the main line of communication between Israel’s war cabinet and American officials.

Israel’s war on Gaza is facing increased international criticism, and its leaders could soon face arrest warrants for war crimes; widespread protests at home and abroad continue. Despite the condemnation and reports detailing Israel’s genocidal acts, the onslaught against Palestinian civilians continues unabated as Israel seeks “Hamas’s total destruction.”

Analysis: The Cause and Impact of South Africa’s ICJ Case Against Israel

The United Nations is set to announce later this week that both Israel and Hamas are violating children’s rights, joining the ranks of Russia and militias in countries like Myanmar and Sudan.

Netanyahu is set to address Congress on July 24, much to the chagrin of many Democrats who recall how he undermined Barack Obama’s Iran policy in a 2015 speech there. Netanyahu is thought to be supportive of Donald Trump in the 2024 election; Trump’s advisors met Netanyahu in late May.

Dan Feidt contributed to this report for Unicorn Riot.

For more from Palestine and pro-Palestine protests click on image below.

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