Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (Likud) said Thursday that contrary to rumor, there is no investigation by the IDF's Investigative Military Police against soldiers who took part in the fighting in Rafah on August 1, which is referred to sometimes as Black Friday.
On that day, when a ceasefire with Hamas was already supposedly in place, terrorists surprised an IDF elite unit, killing three soldiers and abducting the body of one of them, Second Lt. Hadar Goldin hy”d.
In the chase that ensued, IDF artillery pulverized the area near the tunnel into which Goldin's body was abducted, as part of the Hannibal Protocol that the IDF employs in such cases – using all means to eliminate the abducting terrorists, even if it means killing the abducted soldier as well. Dozens of Arabs were reportedly killed, leading some leftists to demand that soldiers be put on trial.
"The question of inquiries and investigations is now being discussed,” Ya'alon said, at a study day dedicated to the memory of Sayeret Matkal commandos Emanuel Moreno and Oded Rauer. “One of the tests of a commander is backing up his men – as long as they have done nothing morally wrong, of course."
"An inquiry, unlike an investigation, looks ahead to the future. You want to learn from the exercise or the battle, what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is bad, in order to learn lessons and improve.
"An investigation looks for guilty parties. It looks to the past. There are some cases in which it is necessary. If someone commits an offense during battle, even something criminal – looting, rape, intentionally firing at a woman of child or someone raising a white flag – that is a breach of the rules, and it has a criminal aspect. That is where the Investigative Military Police [Metzach] conduct a criminal investigation.
"The fact that you fought heroically does not make you immune from an investigation, to make sure you did not commit a criminal offense,” he stressed. “You can be a excellent solder and a hero, but do something morally wrong.”
Regarding the events of August 1, Ya'alon said that while “there are many rumors flying around...this event is not being investigated by Metzach. I hope that no one decides to place it under a Metzach investigation. This is an operational event in which various decisions were made, it is not something you check with criminal legal tools.”
The inquiry should be carried out within the IDF command, he said, “in order to improve next time.”
Ya'alon's statements come after several days in which Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett has been defending the soldiers who fought in Rafah. "In recent days, there has been a relentless attack on the fighters from Givati Brigade, those brave warriors who were in Gaza after Hamas terrorists broke the ceasefire and abducted Hadar Goldin,” Bennett wrote on Facebook Sunday.
"The soldiers, who fought in the battle at Rafah after the abduction of 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin hy”d, are being blamed for supposedly 'firing indiscriminately,'” Bennett noted. “This is what they are saying about soldiers who went out to risk their lives in the search for their comrade, who had been abducted by barbaric terrorists in the course of the ceasefire.”
Bennett has said that while an internal IDF inquiry is possible, under no circumstances must criminal proceedings be launched, saying "there will be no investigation against courage."