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As the procession of Palestinian demonstrators in Rafah began making its way toward the IDF forces, with gunmen visible among them, the commander of the Gaza Division, Brigadier General Shmuel Zakai, tried to talk with community leaders.

The chief liaison officer, Colonel Fuli Mordechai, called Nasser Saraj, head of the citizens committees in the city. Saraj, former director of the Ministry Industry and Trade at the Palestinian Authority and a well respected man, listened to the calls of Colonel Mordechai to avoid clashes, but did nothing to prevent the disaster.

As the marchers approached a series of structures, behind which were IDF tanks and armored carriers, the commanders grew apprehensive that the crowd would charge the forces and damage the vehicles.

Lieutenant Colonel S., tank battalion commander whose force he instructed to fire rounds close to the crowd, bears the scars of a Fagot anti-tank missile that injured him in Lebanon, and is very familiar with the capabilities of a quick anti-tank missile, fired from short distance at a tank.

S. also knows what was not made public - the armored force, at which the demonstrators marched, was not the most forward element. Ahead of it, hidden from sight, for sniping and observation and preparing for another operation, were infantry units from Egoz and the Golani reconnaissance unit. Were the demonstrators to cross the ground separating the armored force from the foot soldiers, the infantry units would have fond themselves surrounded.