US, UK assisted Israel in lead up to Nuseirat massacre: Report

The Cradle, June 10, 2024 — 

The three countries shared intelligence and surveilled Gaza with drones in preparation for the captive rescue operation that killed hundreds of Palestinians.

New details have come to light about the US role in intelligence gathering for Israel’s massacre and captive rescue operation in the Nuseirat refugee camp in Gaza Saturday.

Reports by Ynet and the New York Times (NYT) journalist Ronen Bergman published on 10 June detail Israel’s intelligence cooperation with the US and UK in the wake of the operation, which killed 274 Palestinians and rescued four Israeli captives.

The success of the operation relied on wide-scale bombing from the sky of areas where Palestinian civilians sheltered, as well as the cold-blooded execution of Palestinian civilians in their homes, most of them homes where no captives were held.

According to the Ynet and NYT reports, Israeli and US officials – military and intelligence – established a fusion cell to work cooperatively and share drone and satellite photographs, along with communications monitoring and any additional information that might help identify the locations of the captives. 

During Operation Al-Aqsa Flood on 7 October, Hamas captured 253 Israeli soldiers and civilians to exchange them for some of the thousands of Palestinians held captive in Israeli prisons.

The reports said that once the location of a captive was confidently identified, intense rescue planning began.

A senior Israeli official stated that as the war began, US and UK drones joined Israeli drones to surveil Gaza over more extended periods and more territory.

At the beginning of the war, intelligence officials believed that most of the captives were being held in tunnels. However, it was later determined that holding the captives in apartments in various locations throughout Gaza turned out to be easier, the reports said.

Over time, and with help from US and UK advisors, Israeli intelligence about the captives improved. At the same time, officials in Israel and the US said that due to the Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip, the areas where Hamas could hide captives decreased, and the opportunities to locate them increased.

Israeli bombing has destroyed large swathes of Gaza’s cities and farmland, making many areas uninhabitable. The attacks have displaced 80 percent of the population, in many cases displacing them multiple times.

The reports said that according to Israeli officials, Hamas leaders ordered the guards holding the captives that if they thought Israeli forces were coming, the first thing they should do was shoot the captives.

However, the report added that Hamas leaders have made great efforts to hide the captives, being aware that they are the best bargaining chip Hamas has in the negotiations for a ceasefire agreement.

The NYT report stated that 43 of the 253 Israelis held by Hamas since 7 October had died in captivity but did not mention who had likely killed them, implying Hamas had done so.

But released Israeli captives have stated that their greatest fear was being killed by Israeli bombing and that Hamas members went to great lengths to protect them.

Hamas says that three Israeli captives were killed during Saturday’s rescue operation, which featured heavy bombing.

Though Israeli and US leaders celebrated the rescue of the four Israelis – and ignored the deaths of hundreds of Palestinians – in the operation, it is unlikely that the rescue will change the dynamics of the conflict moving forward.

Lieutenant-Colonel (res.) Avi Kalo, former head of the Prisoners and Missing Persons Division at the Israeli military’s Intelligence Unit, noted in the reports that “one must remember that the release of the four hostages is ultimately a tactical achievement that does not change the strategic aspect. Hamas still has dozens of hostages, the vast majority of whom, if not all, will not be released in rescue operations, but can be rescued only as part of a cease-fire deal.”

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