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Israeli army gassed my son ‘like Auschwitz,’ mother of slain Israeli soldier says

Originally published: The Grayzone on January 18, 2024 by Wyatt Reed (more by The Grayzone)  |

An outraged Israeli mom has sparked an uproar after accusing the Israeli army of deliberately gassing her son to death while he was being held in a Gaza tunnel. Now she says the Israeli military had her son’s gravestone removed after her critical message went viral.

His killing follows a pattern of Israeli military attacks on Israeli captives in Gaza, raising questions about the existence of a friendly fire policy to prevent prisoner swaps.

The mother of a now-dead Israeli soldier captured by Hamas militants on October 7 says it was the Israeli military, not Palestinian resistance fighters, who killed her son. In a recently-published post on Facebook, Israeli mother Maayan Sherman wrote that her son Ron was “indeed murdered—not by Hamas,” but in circumstances more akin to “Auschwitz and the showers.”

The killing of her son, she wrote, was caused “not from accidental gunfire, nor from crossfire, but from premeditated murder—bombing with poison gas.”

“Ron was kidnapped because of the criminal negligence of all the senior officials of the army and this damned government, who gave an order to eliminate him in order to settle a score with some terrorist from Jabalya,” she added.

Sherman’s body, alongside those of fellow captured soldiers Nik Beizer and Elia Toledano, was recovered from a tunnel in Gaza in December. Mainstream media outlets previously blamed Palestinians for the killing of at least one of the captives, whose death was falsely described in one publication as a “Hamas execution.”

Israel has refused to divulge further information regarding the circumstances of the deaths, stating in a press release that “it cannot be denied nor confirmed that they were killed due to strangulation, suffocation, poisoning, or as the result of an IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] attack or Hamas operation.” But Sherman’s mother says all the evidence indicates the Israeli government deliberately killed her son.

“Oh yes, they also found that he had several crushed fingers, apparently due to his desperate attempts to escape the poison grave that the IDF dug for him when he tried to breathe fresh air, but only breathed IDF poison,” the grieving mother continued.

“My love, may I die in your place, what a nightmare you went through. Death in terrible agony—and all at the behest of the IDF, which you trusted and valued so much, and the [Israeli] cabinet,” Sherman concluded.

Turning her sights on the Israeli regime, Sherman questioned whether the same decision would have been taken “if Bibi’s son was there in the tunnel… or the grandson of [Israeli Defense Minister Yoav] Gallant?” Would they also be “poisoned with gas bombs,” she asked.

Sherman’s unflinching denunciation of top-level Israeli officials represents one of the few isolated instances of Israeli citizens publicly criticizing their government. Following the October 7 raids, the Netanyahu administration imposed a strict crackdown on speech, with those calling for a ceasefire frequently facing lengthy jail sentences for supposedly sympathizing with terrorists.

But Sherman’s condemnation of Israeli authorities didn’t end there. A gravestone she had installed over her son’s final resting place also bore a pointed inscription:

Sergeant Ron Sherman was “kidnapped, abandoned, and sacrificed in Gaza by the Israeli government,” the stone read.

That changed on Wednesday, however. A day after her denunciation of Israeli authorities caused an uproar in local media, Sherman took to Facebook again to write that the Israeli military had seized the gravestone.

“Following the cover-up of the facts by the IDF and the Ministry of Defense, the stone I placed on my son’s grave—a stone that was important to me to be placed on his tombstone as his mother—was removed by the Ministry of Defense against my will,” she wrote.

As they cover up the fact that Ron was eliminated for the purpose of killing—they think that removing the stone from Ron’s grave will clear facts as they are.

But the fact remains, Sherman wrote, that “Ron was kidnapped because of a monstrous failed government and a failed army.”

Yet “the only thing they left for me as his mother—the stone they agreed [to let me] rest on his grave [which] I paid for it out of my private pockets”—was “removed by the Ministry of Defense to continue covering up his murder,” she exclaimed.

“This is the government and this is the Ministry of Defense,” she concluded:

Cover-up, removal of blasphemous evidence, sacrificing the kidnapped, abandoning the bereaved parents.

Is the Israeli military deliberately killing Israeli captives in Gaza?

The Sherman family’s indignant allegation that the Israeli military gassed their son to death follows a revealing hostage video released on January 15 by the Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas. The video featured testimony by Noa Argamani, who was taken captive during the Nova Electronic Music Festival in southern Israel on October 7.

According to Argamani, she narrowly survived a series of Israeli airstrikes and is nursing several injuries:

“I was located in a building,” she stated.

It was bombed by an IDF airstrike. F-16 missiles hit all three of us. Two missiles exploded and one did not. In the building we were with Al-Qassam soldiers and three hostages. Myself, Itai Svirsky, and Yossi Sharabi. After the building we were in was hit, we were all buried under the rubble. Al-Qassam soldiers rescued me and Itai, but we were not able to save Yossi. After many days, Itai and I were located to another place. While being transported, Itai was hit by an IDF airstrike and did not survive.

In a final statement aimed at the Israeli government, Argamani declared,

Itai Svirsky and Yossi Sharabi—they died because of our own IDF airstrikes. Stop this madness and bring us home to our families.

On January 14—the 100th day since October 7—Ron Sherman’s father, Alex, echoed Noa Argamani’s call for immediate negotiations for a release of the captives: “Our message today to the Israeli government is time is running out!” Alex Sherman declared at a rally of captives’ families.

Any of the abductees could be your father, son or daughter. The return of the abductees must be the only overarching goal. There is no other.

Unfortunately for the Israeli captives languishing in Gaza, their government has demonstrated a studied disinterest in a negotiated prisoner exchange.

Since October 7, Israel’s military has issued “Hannibal” orders on a mass scale, authorizing the targeting of homes and vehicles containing abductees with tank shells and Hellfire missiles, leading to the killing of many Israeli noncombatants. The goal, as outlined in an investigation citing official military sources by Israeli security reporters Ronen Bergman and Yoav Zeyton, was to prevent a politically painful swap for large numbers of Palestinian prisoners.

At least 36 Israeli abductees have been killed inside Gaza since Israel’s military assault began. Besides Sherman, Svirsky and Sharabi, they include Samer Al-Talalka, Alon Shamriz, and Yotam Haim, who were gunned down by soldiers from Israel’s Golani Brigade when they approached them shirtless, waving a white flag and appealing in Hebrew to be saved.

They also likely include the family of Yarden Bibas, an Israeli held hostage in Gaza. In an especially unsettling hostage video released by the Al Qassam Brigades on December 13, a tearful Bibas is seen accusing Israel of killing his wife, Sherry, and his two young children, Ariel and Kfir, in an airstrike.

The Israeli army spokesman has insisted without evidence that his family is still alive, and implied that Israeli citizens should ignore the “psychological warfare” conveyed in Bibas’ hostage video.

Though Israeli military action has absolutely failed over the course of over 100 days to release the captives, and has indisputably killed many of its own citizens, a vast majority of Jewish Israelis favor escalating the assault on Gaza. 56% of respondents to a January 2 Israeli Democracy Institute poll stated that the best way to recover the remaining captives was by continuing the military operation in Gaza. Only 24% supported a deal with Hamas, though the swap that took place in early December saw scores of Israelis return from captivity.

With the Israeli public geared up for vengeance, police brutally repressing public calls for a ceasefire, and fanatically right-wing government ministers inveighing against the “disaster” of prisoner swaps, the fate of the captives in Gaza looks bleak.

Now, some Israeli analysts are openly speculating that their military is deliberately targeting the abductees in order to deny political leverage to Hamas. As Israeli sociologist Yagil Levy wrote in Haaretz, “the government’s decision to attack Gaza despite the presence of hostages in the bombed sites can be considered an extension of the ‘Hannibal’ directive.

Because right-wing elements in the government see a prisoner swap as antithetical to the stated goal of “destroying” Hamas, Levy concluded,

the lives of the hostages are another reasonable sacrifice that must be made.

Wyatt Reed is the managing editor of The Grayzone. As an international correspondent, he’s covered stories in over a dozen countries.

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