Rafah on August 2, 2015. An estimated 800 artillery shells and 260 mortars were fired by the IDF during the fighting the day before. Photo by AP

‘Black Friday’: The day Israel officially adopted its ‘anything goes’ morality

Israel remembers only the three soldiers who died on Black Friday and erases from its consciousness the dozens of innocent Palestinians who also died that day.

By Gideon Levy | Haaretz | Jul. 9, 2015 |

“Black Friday” should be considered as such first and foremost because, on that day, Israel Defense Forces soldiers went wild as never before and killed dozens of innocents, perhaps too as never before. IDF sources admitted at the time that “it was the most aggressive Hannibal procedure that the IDF had ever implemented,” referring to the protocol employed when an IDF soldier is believed captured.

According to Palestinian sources, about 150 people were killed on that accursed day, most of them civilians. The IDF admits to killing 41. The soldiers bombarded every car in motion and every building in a number of neighborhoods in Rafah, the most blighted city in the Gaza Strip. August 1, 2014 was indeed a day blacker than black.

That day was also black because it was the day that three IDF soldiers — Maj. Benaya Sarel, Staff Sgt. Liel Gidoni and Lt. Hadar Goldin — were killed. The editor-in-chief of the Israeli media for military and security matters, IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Moti Almoz, decided that their deaths would be the centerpiece of the first anniversary of the war. And when the army spokesman decides, who would dare disobey?

IDF video clips of sentimental and military significance, but with no relevance to current events, were dispatched to editorial desks — and the media, as usual, gave itself over devotedly. The item opened (!) the main news broadcasts and current events shows and constituted the main headline in a mass circulation daily. The message was simplistic and clear: Operation Protective Edge was (still) a heroic war. Way to go, IDF (and its spokesman.)

Three soldiers killed in battle is, of course, a terrible tragedy for their loved ones. They are also worthy of being turned into a national myth of heroism and sacrifice, as in every war. It’s also natural that a nation first of all mourns its sons and fighters.

What cannot be tolerated, what is insufferable and monstrous, is the complete and hardhearted disregard for the killing of dozens of Palestinian civilians on that day, as indeed on every other day of the war.

Those deaths go completely unmentioned in the Israeli media, which are conscripted to the cause. They had no echo during the war or in the year since. Anyone watching television, listening to the radio or reading the newspaper would get the impression that three soldiers were killed on “Black Friday,” and that’s it. Nothing else happened on that day, certainly nothing important, significant, or even noteworthy.

That’s how the media works in the service of brainwashing; that’s how the system of dehumanization works, perhaps the most efficient system here. Three soldiers killed — a national event; 150 Palestinians killed — no story there. Their lives and death are nothing. Empty air.

This is also the preparation of hearts and minds — if any is even needed — for the IDF’s new doctrine, implemented in the last war: For the life of one Israeli soldier, the IDF can do anything. One hundred Palestinians dead, or a thousand, perhaps ten thousand — ask the author of the IDF’s updated ethical code, media personality Avri Gilad.

Hannibal’s yahrzeit, which was marked this week, is also the anniversary of the new Israeli morality, not that it differs much from its predecessor. But now it’s official: Anything goes.

The lives of Palestinians are even less than worthless. The horrific proportions of Operation Protective Edge — 2,104 Palestinians killed, as opposed to 72 Israelis; 1,462 Palestinian civilians killed as opposed to five Israelis; 551 Palestinian children killed, as opposed to one Israeli child — are not only legitimate, they are even desirable (all together now: What do you want, for more Israelis to be killed?)

And so this was “Black Friday.” The day in which Israel parted finally from the remnants of its humanity. The day from which Israel remembers only its three sons and completely erases from its consciousness the dozens of its innocent victims, whatever their number, their story and their fate.