IDF disputes death toll after Rafah kidnap attempt
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IDF disputes death toll after Rafah kidnap attempt

Investigation says 41 Palestinians — not Gaza figure of 130 — were killed after Hamas’s attempted abduction of soldier last month, which ended truce

Adiv Sterman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Smoke rises following what witnesses said were Israeli air strikes in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, Friday, August 1, 2014. (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Smoke rises following what witnesses said were Israeli air strikes in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, Friday, August 1, 2014. (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

An IDF investigation has asserted that the military’s bombing of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, in early August resulted in the deaths of 41 people — including 12 Hamas operatives — as opposed to figures recorded by health officials in the Strip, who pegged the number of Palestinians killed at 130.

The investigators said they had reached their conclusions based on Palestinian medical records and intelligence sources in the Gaza Strip, the news site NRG reported Monday.

The IDF’s shelling in Rafah, which lasted for two days, was carried out after the body of IDF officer Lt. Hadar Goldin was snatched by Hamas operatives on August 1.

Believing Goldin had been captured alive, the army responded with massive force in an effort to thwart his abductors, in accordance with the controversial Hannibal Protocol, an IDF order under which soldiers are instructed to use massive force as a means to stymie an abduction attempt, even at the price of killing or wounding the soldier.

Israel later determined that Goldin had been killed during the Hamas attack.

2nd. Lt. Hadar Goldin, 23 from Kfar Saba, killed in Gaza on August 1 (photo credit: AP Photo/ Ynet News)
2nd. Lt. Hadar Goldin, 23 from Kfar Saba, killed in Gaza on August 1 (photo credit: AP Photo/ Ynet News)

The Hamas attack during which Goldin and two other soldiers were killed was initially believed to have breached a ceasefire shortly after it came into force. Hamas’s political leader, Khaled Mashaal, however, insisted that Hamas had never agreed to halt attacks against IDF forces inside of Gaza, a claim later supported by an Israeli government official.

IDF investigators said the strikes on Rafah proved effective and resulted in a relatively low death count thanks to plans prepared by the army’s Gaza Division ahead of the war, NRG reported.

The investigators, however, could not determine where Hamas had concealed Goldin’s body.

On Tuesday, a three-member Israeli delegation was set to land in Cairo for indirect talks on extending the Israel-Hamas ceasefire, which ended the 50-day-long operation in the Gaza Strip.

Israel’s two first demands at the talks will be that Hamas return the bodies of Goldin and a second soldier, Oron Shaul, and that it agree to disarm and have Gaza demilitarized, officials said.

However, there is no expectation in Israel that Hamas will agree to disarm, Israeli political sources said Sunday, and thus no expectation that the talks will yield any significant breakthrough, at least at this stage.

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