European mediators have attempted to convince Hamas to release the bodies of two Israeli soldiers killed during Operation Protective Edge last summer. Netanyahu’s government is utilising the circumstances to further the settler-colonial state’s patriotic drivel. Within Israel, demands for the release of the soldiers will continue the distortion of Gaza’s narrative, absolving the soldiers of complicity in murder and erroneously defining the massacres in Gaza as defence.
So far Hamas has refused to comply with the external imposition. According to the Palestinian Information Center, Hamas is declining discussion regarding the issue until Israel releases all the political prisoners freed in the Shalit deal and who were rearrested during Operation Brother’s Keeper – the Israeli incursions into the West Bank aided by the PA which marked the prelude to Operation Protective Edge.
Israeli media is distorting Hamas’ decision as “seeking a major gain before it even consents to negotiate for the Israelis it is holding dead and alive.” Khaled Meshaal’s statements, which steadfastly refuted concessions, have been misinterpreted by the Times of Israel as an act of repaying “a pre-war debt to the Palestinian public”.
The issue is not seeking compensation, but rather upholding the Palestinians’ right to anti-colonial struggle and resistance. Operation Protective Edge, which was also in ways endorsed by the Palestinian Authority through its remarks that ridiculed Palestinian resistance against Israeli aggression, was another attempt at reducing population and territory through massacres and displacement, thus ensuring that while half-hearted attempts by international organisations such as the UNHRC would suggest war crimes as a possibility, Israel would remain safely ensconced, away from the parameters that define genocide within international law’s interpretation.
Additionally, threats against Palestinians in Gaza have once again emanated from former MK Dr Michael Ben-Ari. According to Israel National News, refusal on behalf of Hamas to cooperate in returning the bodies of two complicit soldiers, who Ben-Ari defines as “saints”, Israel should seek retribution.
“If they want to live let them return the bodies of the warriors. There is no reason that we should be ‘responsible’. This is the time to go crazy and to show IDF soldiers and their families that they are the dearest thing to us,” declared Ben-Ari.
Such threats against Hamas and Palestinians in Gaza are hardly an innovation. Ben-Ari’s disgusting and blatant colonial suggestions in the past included the elimination of the Palestinian population through military measures or mass transfer of Palestinians in Gaza to the Sinai.
It has since become known that one of the dead Israeli soldiers whose remains are held by Hamas may have been a result of the IDF breaching the Hannibal Protocol. The Protocol allows excessive rifle firing in the case of abduction “even at the price of harming or wounding our soldiers.” However, the army is expected to refrain from killing anyone of its own – a premise gone wrong when Hamas launched an attack against soldiers from the Givati Brigade and succeeded in killing two as well as abducting Lt Hadar Goldin. Israel may continue to assert its hypocritical democratic façade and blame Hamas for resisting its premeditated violence. However, its alleged code of ethics has once again proved that everyone, including its complicit settlers and soldiers, are dispensable when it comes to furthering the Zionist colonial project.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.