Yediot: IDF Investigation Confirms All Eilat Attackers Were Egyptian, Not Gazan – OpEd


Alex Fishman, Yediot Achronot’s veteran security correspondent, and one of the few Israeli journalists skeptical about the official government version of the Eilat terror attack, confirms what many of us knew all along: it was a tissue of lies.  The government reported originally that the Popular Resistance Committees of Gaza were responsible for the attack and that the attackers were affiliated with it.  Then an Egyptian newspaper reported that its military killed three of the attackers and that they were Egyptian.  That’s one of the reasons many of us doubted the official version.  Now Fishman reports that in fact, the military investigation confirms that all the militants were Egyptian.  It also raises the possibility that at least one of their member was an active duty policeman.

It was Fishman (along with myself and Idan) who asked where the bodies were and why they weren’t identified by Israel.  The reporter claimed that the IDF was playing a strange game of poker with Hamas, demanding that the latter acknowledge the dead were Gazan before Israel would release the bodies.

This explains why there were no mourning tents in Gaza and no reports there of any fighters killed by Israel.  Ehud Barak knew the knowledge that the attackers were not Gazan, as he claimed, would sink Israel’s entire plan to blame Gaza on the attack and its plan to take vengeance on it instead of the source of the attack, Egypt.

Idan and I have also reported that it is extremely suspicious that Bibi Netanyahu prohibited the Shabak chief, Yoram Cohen, from testifying before the Knesset intelligence committee on the Eilat attack.  This is an unprecedented breach of protocol on the part of the prime minister’s office.  It can only be explained by the fact that Bibi doesn’t want Cohen to expose the government to any more ridicule than it’s already facing regarding its ineptitude surrounding the Mavi Marmara attack, and the frantic extraction of Israeli diplomats frm the Cairo embassy while under assault by Cairo protestors.  The prime minister can only explain away so many lies and so much incompetence at any given time.  Defending the lies he and Ehud Barak spread about Eilat might be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Miraculously, the IDF still claims, according to Fishman, that the PRC was the author of the attack.  Idan Ladau, who’s been one of the sharpest Israeli bloggers covering this issue has written a comprehensive rebuttal of the government’s version.  One thing that he notes, and which Amira Hass confirmed in her reporting in Haaretz, is that the Eilat attack was a very complex, sophisticated one which required tremendous logistical and organizational skill.  Anyone who knows anything about the PRC knows that their cadre receive elementary training and possess nothing but very light weapons.  They simply don’t have the skills, manpower or sophistication to pull this off.  The statement by a PRC representative below confirms this.

This report by Time reveals that not only did the PRC deny responsibility, but they continue to do so even after Israel murdered their top commanders in a drone strike:

“If the Israelis have any proof, give it,” says Ahmed Yusuf, a former Hamas official who now runs a Gaza think tank. “I met with these people for the Popular Resistance. They said, ‘We want to distance ourselves from what happened in Eilat and wondered why they were threatening us.’ ”

…”I mean, the operation was still on when they assassinated our people,” says a spokesman for the PRC who goes by the name Abu Mujahed. “The way they controlled and managed to fight for hours, it shows that whoever’s behind it has a very strong organization structure. It’s like they have a military background and experience in how to do this.”

PRC militants, he says, undergo “normal basic military training — small arms, nothing fancy.” Recruits specialize either in small arms or the swift firing of mortars and rockets into Israel. “You have to understand, we’ve only worked against the Israelis on the Gaza front,” says Abu Mujahed. “Up to now, the decision is, you only can operate within your geographical border. This has to do with our strategic thinking. It has to do with our relationship with others — Egypt and the other factions.”

For any who aren’t familiar with Palestinian militant groups, they’re not shy about claiming responsibility for terror attacks against Israelis, especially ones in which there are shahids, martyrs for the Palestinian resistance.  Yet still the PRC refuses to conform to the Israeli narrative.

Landau also reveals that SITE, a website monitoring jihadi activity, claims a different terror group claimed responsibility (paid membership required) for the Eilat killings:

A group calling itself “Jama’a Ansar Beit al-Maqdis” (Ansar Jerusalem, or Supporters of Jerusalem), claimed responsibility for the August 18, 2011, multi-stage attacks in Eilat, Israel, in which eight Israelis were killed.

No Israeli media have reported this fact nor seriously challenged the government version that the PRC was responsible.

Landau, who has a delicious ironic sense of humor, credits a group of us “crazy, deluded” bloggers for pursuing this story and not allowing the government to maintain its tissue of lies unchallenged.  Note that this is almost precisely the language used by Haaretz’s Avi Issacharoff, in deriding my own version of events.  So far, Landau’s and my version is holding up pretty well.  Issacharoff’s, not so well.

Landau writes a damning critique of Israel’s behavior after the attack:

Israel knew that the terrorists were not from Gaza and did not receive their orders from Gaza.  Even further, Israel dragged Hamas into an escalation of conflict against the latter’s wishes.  Israel knowingly lied to its citizens about the origin of the attack and the purpose of its targeted killings [of five PRC leaders and a one year old baby] in Gaza.

The real reasons for the lie: a) the government of Israel and its security apparatus wanted to drag the Palestinians into a cycle of blood vengeance just before the UN statehood vote, thereby strengthening the militant elements on the other side [i.e. Hamas, PRC at the expense of Fatah] and to frustrate the options for [non-violent] popular resistance, because every militant killed in Gaza further inflames their colleagues; b) to take the wind out of the sails of the J14 social protest movement and divert the anger of the Israeli public outward [toward Gaza];  and c) to frustrate those demanding drastic reductions in the military budget, part of the platform of the social justice movement.

The IDF investigation further reveals that the only Israeli soldier to be killed in the attack was actually killed after dark by Egyptian forces hunting the terrorists and that the five Egyptian security forces killed were shot in return fire from Israeli forces.  It sounds like the situation was a holy mess.  Any legitimate investigation would want to figure out how to avoid this slaughter so that both sides could be shooting at the bad guys instead of killing each other.

This article first appeared at Tikun Olam

Richard Silverstein

Richard Silverstein is an author, journalist and blogger, with articles appearing in Haaretz, the Jewish Forward, Los Angeles Times, the Guardian’s Comment Is Free, Al Jazeera English, and Alternet. His work has also been in the Seattle Times, American Conservative Magazine, Beliefnet and Tikkun Magazine, where he is on the advisory board. Check out Silverstein's blog at Tikun Olam, one of the earliest liberal Jewish blogs, which he has maintained since February, 2003.

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