Diamonds and coal dust: Slaughter at Nuseirat

Civil defense teams try to extinguish the fire that broke out after Israeli attacks on Nuseirat camp in Deir al Balah, Gaza on June 08, 2024

Dr Binoy Kampmark writes in Middle East Eye June 13, 2024

The ashes had barely settled on the Rafah tent camp incinerated by an Israeli air strike before the next, gorged massacre presented itself for posterity’s gloomy archive. It was intended as a golden operation and had been months in the making. The rescue of four Israeli hostages, the killing of three others (bound to happen, say the experts) and the massacre of at least 274 Palestinians at the Nuseirat refugee camp were the end result.

The logistics that led to the bloodbath had been rehearsed with detail verging on the manic. Many a vengeful mind was at play. Two buildings were constructed for training purposes. Participants involved the special counter-terrorism unit Yamam, Israel’s internal security agency Shin Bet and members of the Israel Defence Forces (as well as, it has been said, US Rangers). A high casualty rate would have already been contemplated given the remarks of IDF spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari. “We understood that in those apartments with those guards, daytime will be the ultimate surprise.”

The lies barely had time to fledge. First, the numbers killed. Hagari could only count “dozens”, and “knew of less than 100”. He conceded to not knowing how many of such a reduced number were civilians. Israel’s Foreign Minister, Israel Katz, was happy to soften the carnage in attacking his country’s detractors. “Only Israel’s enemies complained about the casualties of Hamas terrorists and their accomplices,” he claimed, with vicious arrogance.

READ: Germany calls UN war crimes accusations against Israel ‘serious’

Then came the praise: manifold, effusive. Defence Minister Yoav Gallant cooed with satisfaction, calling the effort “one of the most extraordinary operations.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu merely offered the following morsel: “Israel does not surrender to terrorism.”

Furthermore, no civilian trucks, claimed the IDF, were used in the operation. Yet undercover vehicles were apparently deployed, one very much resembling those used by Israel to traffic commercial goods into Gaza; another being a white Mercedes truck packed and stacked with furniture and miscellaneous belongings typical of the dislocated and dispossessed. Disgorged from the latter, noted Palestinian eye-witnesses, were men in plainclothes and some ten heavily armed soldiers ready for mischief.

The commencement of firing signalled the start of the butchery.

The UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Francesca Albanese, stated with exasperation that the IDF had “perfidiously” hidden “in an aid truck”. This constituted “‘humanitarian camouflage’ at another level.” While expressing relief at the rescue of four hostages, the enterprise “should not have come at the expense of at least 200 Palestinians, including children, killed and over 400 injured by Israel and allegedly foreign soldiers.”

In time, it became clear that the mission, venerated for its secrecy and praised for its planning, had not caught the Hamas guards responsible for three male hostages by surprise. They duly engaged the Yamam operatives. “Immediately, it became a war zone,” reservist brigadier general Amir Avivi told the Washington Post. The Israeli air force commenced indulgent cover fire. Death reigned at Nuseirat for some 75 minutes, concealed by the now standard refrain by the IDF: “Aircraft struck dozens of military targets for the success of the operation.”

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