An update on Chris McGreal and that Gaza “sports stadium”


Chris McGreal, a Guardian journalist singled out by the CST in their 2011 Report on Antisemitic Discourse in Britain, wrote a piece, on Nov. 21, on the aftermath of the recent war in Gaza titled ‘Palestinians count dead after one of the worst days of the war.

The piece consisted of accounts of Palestinian deaths during ‘Pillar Of Defense’ and, more broadly, suggested that Israel’s military behaved unethically in the context of purported civilian casualty figures and what he claimed were non-military sites in Gaza attacked by the IDF.

Our post in response to McGreal’s Nov. 21 report focused on two points – his use of inflated casualty figures obtained by a radical NGO with sympathies towards Palestinian extremists, and his suggestion that Israel bombed several targets which had no military value.

Regarding the latter charge, here’s the passage from McGreal’s report we cited:

“Then there were the targets. The Israeli army said: “The sites that were targeted were positively identified by precise intelligence over the course of several months.” But many seemed to have little military value. A football stadium blown to bits…” [emphasis added]

We noted that McGreal completely ignored widely published reports (including at the BBC and an update from the Guardian’s own live blog on the war) that the stadium was targeted because Hamas had used it as a missile launching site a couple of days earlier.

Interestingly, McGreal, in a report a couple of days later (Nov. 30) on opposition by a few European football players to plans to hold the U21 European championship in Israel, mentioned the ‘stadium’ attack again – albeit, in a slightly different manner.

McGreal wrote the following:

“A group of Premier League footballers and players in other major European leagues have condemned plans to hold the Under-21 European championship in Israel next year, saying it will be seen as a “reward” for this month’s assault on Gaza in which young people playing football were killed when a sports stadium was bombed.” [emphasis added]

However, later in his piece, McGreal actually acknowledged reports that the site was targeted because of its military use by Hamas.

“[The players cited the] destruction of a football stadium which the Israeli military said had previously been used by Hamas as a rocket launching site but which at the time of the bombing was not.” [emphasis added]

While it’s interesting that McGreal finally saw fit to include at least a little balance in his latest mention of the Gaza ‘stadium’, note the qualifier at the end of the sentence highlighted above, “…but which at the time of the bombing was not.“.

So, the stadium may have indeed been used as a rocket launching site by Hamas, but McGreal evidently deemed it necessary to instruct readers that Hamas certainly wasn’t firing a rocket at Israel from the stadium at the precise time the IDF attacked it!

Evidently, McGreal’s ‘Just War Theory’ would require that the IDF avoid targeting an enemy rocket launching site which has been used to attack Israeli civilians until the exact moment when another rocket is being fired from the location – not a second before and not a second after.

Chris McGreal’s rhetorical obfuscations in service of a desired narrative are truly works of beauty.

34 comments on “An update on Chris McGreal and that Gaza “sports stadium”

  1. Good work. Is there a big list that any bloggers or maybe the IDF spokespeople have made, showing all the places that Hamas have used as rocket sites in this recent operation? It would be handy to have to show people.

  2. Evidently, McGreal’s ‘Just War Theory’ would require that the IDF avoid targeting an enemy rocket launching site which has been used to attack Israeli civilians until the exact moment when another rocket is being fired from the location – not a second before and not a second after.

    Come off it. Obviously McGreal is not saying that.
    One could similarly interpret this CiFW article as saying that the IDF is justified in bombing any location ever used by any group to launch missiles at Israel.

      • Nowhere did I say anything about what sites should/could be neutralized or not. Your comment is aimed at the wrong person.

        I was talking about misinformation and distortion.

    • Well pretzelberg, I can’t speak for your reality but given the context and his unashamed biases his meaning can reasonably be inferred, can it not?

      And in a rather bizarre, if not crazy, way he seems to be implying that Israel should have waiting until Fajr rockets were actually being launched before it bombed the stadium.

    • Pretz, what, then, is the significance to those last words “…but which at the time of the bombing was not.“? If it indeed was a rocket launching site, what would it matter if, at the time it was bombed, it wasn’t launching a rocket at Israel?

      • Yes, there is room for interpretation in McGreal’s post. But what you’ve done is to deliberately assume and propagate the worst-case scenario – and then say “evidently …”! And that’s what I then did – merely as an illustration – with the CiFW article.

        • The track record of CiF contributors lying, distorting, cutting out context, whitewashing their pet causes, and overall bullshit is not an assumption or a propagation. It’s based on factual analysis over years. There are a few CiF regulars whose work has sometimes inspired the benefit of the doubt. Jonathan Freedland comes to mind. Chris McGreal does not. And the belief that he is always looking to make Israel look as demonic as possible, regardless of whether that is accurate or not, comes from his entire CV. So no, I’m sorry, but as long as CM assumes the worst, I am going to assume he’s the worst.

  3. The question to ask is, what military value did putting a crater in the middle of a football pitch have? Could Hamas fire rockets from the crater? Of course it could. Which just goes to expose the purpose of the attack: not to stop a rocket being fired, nor to stop rockets being fired in future. No, it was to punish the residents of the Gaza strip for the temerity to simply exist and not just die off as the editors of this hate site would clearly prefer.

    • Not sure what you mean here.

      And since you were not there and cannot have been privy to all the information you have no right to express opinion as fact here. Not only is that dishonest it is also an insult to our intelligence.

      Hamas itself is punishing the people of Gaza – and there is proof aplenty – by attacking its neighbour without providing shelter for its people while its own government cowers underground, and by launching missiles from among civilians in the perverse hope that the rockets which try to take them out will kill civilians, from whose deaths it will make propaganda capital from useful infidels like you.

    • Dear Sanity
      I think if you check you’ll find that the football pitch was located on a sliding roof over an underground arms bunker and rocket-launching facility. I find it always helps to have the facts before making a statement and I accept your apology for your inaccuracy.
      Similarly your assertion that the editors of and contributors to this website want to kill off the residents of Gaza. Nothing could be further from the truth. Israel is at war with Hamas who are openly dedicated to the destruction of Israel and the death of all Jews worldwide (Hamas Charter Article 7). As a result of their rocket attacks on Israel – and their refusal to create adequate shelters for their people – ordinary Gazan civilians unfortunately are killed when Israel is forced to retaliate or take action to wipe out the launch sites. But just think: no rocket attacks on Israel = no need for Israeli (re)action = no deaths to Gazan civilians.
      Finally, ask yourself these questions. How much international aid money has Hamas spent on weaponry since it came to power in 2007? And what could have been achieved with this money in terms of building housing and factories, in creating jobs and developing a sound economic infrastructure – all of which would have benefited the citizens of Gaza – had this money be put to peaceful purposes? And then ask yourself why Hamas didn’t do this.

      • I don’t believe that I was making a case for the benevolence of Hamas. To quote you, ‘Nothing could be further from the truth’.

        Israel is ‘forced’ to retaliate? This is the language of the school bully.

        Please provide a link to pictures and / or reports of the, ‘underground arms bunker and rocket-launching facility’.

      • But just think: no imperial occupation + no immoral blockade = no rocket attacks on Israel = no need for Israeli (re)action = no deaths to Gazan civilians.

        • You’re such a silly boy (or girl).

          Israel is not occupying Gaza. It pulled out in 2005 and handed over responsibility for governing the territory to the Palestinian Authority. It offered the PA full cooperation in helping to develop the economy but the PA rejected this and failed to prevent (some say encouraged) the destruction of the highly profitable agriculture and horticulture industry which had given employment to hundreds of Gazan citizens and which Israel had left behind intact.

          Nevetheless, the Israelis allowed limited free passage into Israel for Gazan daily-migrant workers – exerting the kind of border controls which one finds all over the world between countries. (People complained about how long it took to get through the security checks. Have you ever tried to enter the USA at any of its border crossings? I always take a pack of sandwiches to eat in the queue, especially if I’m going in through JFK.) Every sovereign country has the right to determine who should be allowed to enter it and under what conditions. The USA does it. The UK does it. Egypt does it. Saudi Arabia does it. Why should Israel be any different?

          Israel tightened its border controls and imposed restrictions on imports when Hamas became the democratically-elect government of Gaza in 2007 and demonstrated their desire for peace by refusing to rescind Article 7 of the Hamas Charter, by murdering their political opponents (Fatah), and by firing rockets into Israel targeted at civilians. Without this blockade – which is perfectly legal because of the existing state of war – Hamas would be free to import even more weaponry. Is this what you want, that they should have even more and more sophisticated rockets to fire into Israel? And what would that achieve?

          I note that you failed to answer my question on how much international aid money Hamas has spent on weaponry and what could have been achieved if this money had been devoted to building the economy of Gaza – providing housing, jobs, health services, education not based on Jew-hatred etc etc. But I’m not surprised: better men and women than you have failed to answer these questions – largely, I believe, because it forces them to consider that all the blame for the conflict, death and destruction might not lie with Israel, and that possibly the worst enemy of the citizens of Gaza is Hamas. And that would never do.

          • I notice you didn’t provide a link to the ‘underground arms bunker and rocket-launching facility’ story or photos. Please do so. In the absence of such a verifiable link, then your comment is meaningless and we’ll assume you didn’t make it for the time being.

            Thanks for your little jerk-off over the blockade. And thanks for the implicit hints that I want to see Israelis killed. ‘Nothing could be further from the truth’.

            Yes, Israel is entitled to control it’s borders. It’s just not entitled to do that with Palestine’s borders, hence the immorality of the naval blockade. Moreover, your story doesn’t really explain why Israel bans exports from the Gaza strip. Your story turns out to be a Charlatan’s Web. (Geddit?)

            I’m unaware of any aid money received from Gaza. Perhaps you can enlighten me by posting a link to their accounts? Will be interesting to see how much they received in cash and from whom, as opposed to direct deliveries of weapons.

            If Israel wanted to stop rockets coming from Gaza then quite obviously it would sit down with Hamas and figure out a deal. Since it doesn’t do this, then it is quite obvious that Israel’s main interest (and here I’m talking about the military-politial establishment that CiFWitch(Hunt) jerks off over, not sensible ordinary Israelis) is not to stop the rockets but rather to punish Palestinians for having the termerity to be alive. Such racism is clearly despicable and the UN vote shows that the moral and ethical viewpoint of humankind will not stand for such bigotry.

            Must be nice that you get to go to JFK. Just think about how priveleged you are next time you make bigoted comments about Palestians.

          • As terror buddy you are in a much better position to provide us with the location of the launching sites, the facilities and bunkers.
            Thanks for your cooperation and beware of your terror buddies after delivery.

          • Dear Joseph Fritzl, calling me a terrorist or ‘terror buddy’, very smart. If you can’t win through reason, just accuse your interlocutors of being terrorists. Works for Bibi, so it’ll probably work for a lowlife like you.

        • Sanity: “But just think: no imperial occupation…”

          So where should 5 million Jews go?
          Isn’t all of Israel occupied and should be freed?
          And what about the “refugees”?
          Should they return to “greater Palestine”?

          If not, what are the borders?
          Careful now…

        • Oh, Israel an imperial power, I see.
          A variation of the Elder of Zion or just plain stupidity?

          • You’ll ave to enlighten me exactly what you mean here.

            What I meant is that Israel has colonised large parts of the territory thought by most of the world to be Palestine. That is, the West Bank and Gaza.

        • Does the existence of the State of Israel constitute an imperial occupation? Let’s start with the beginning of your silly rant and work through.

          • Israel was established as a colonial settler state. I won’t hold that against Israel behind the green line. However, extension of Israel outside that is colonial occupation, until such time as mutually agreed swaps with the Palestinians happen.

    • Sanity, The purpose was to demolish the site and its underground stash.
      The areal photage clearly shows the follow explosions which occured after the bomb hit the target. This means that under neath the stadium (or inside it) a weapon cache / storage was being held or that someone inside the stadium used it to sell large amounts of gas canisters as a seond job.

      My bet is on the first one.
      What’s yours?

  4. McGreal is obviously of the same opinion as other useful infidels, that if the rockets don’t kill Israelis then they cannot be counted as rockets and their launch pads should not be taken out (said other useful infidels use the “home-made fire cracker” argument about qasams, as if it’s actually a sensible one)

    • @Sanity, what a great logic you have! “If Israel wanted to stop rockets coming from Gaza then quite obviously it would sit down with Hamas and figure out a deal. Since it doesn’t do this, then it is quite obvious that Israel’s main interest…is not to stop the rockets but rather to punish Palestinians for having the termerity to be alive.”

      Now please contradinct logically the following statement: “If Palestinians wanted to stop war coming from Israel, then quite obviously they would sit down with Israel and figure out a deal. Since they don’t do this, then it is quite obvious that their main interest…is not to stop the war with Israel but rather to push the Jews emigrate from Israel by terrorising civilian communities.”

      thank you in advance.

  5. I suppose it’s a waste of time asking how these people live with themselves. But, is there any evidence to show that these anti-Israel bigots and racists ever come to terms with the evil they have said and done before their lives end?

  6. Dearest Sanity

    I disagree when you say that the two-state solution is the best option. I think that three states is the best way forward, given the animosity between Hamas and Fatah.

    We all know that Hamas is never going to rescind Article 7 of its Charter which calls for the total destruction of Israel and the annihilation of Jews worldwide. So let’s just treat it as a separate hostile state whilst still allowing it to import humanitarian aid, food, medicines, building materials etc via Israel. Israel should officially recognise the State of Gaza and call for the UN to do the same. It should then proclaim that it is officially at war with the State of Gaza but take no military action unless attacked by/from Gaza. Of course this hostile status can always be reviewed if the citizens of Gaza are allowed by Hamas to elect a government which does not put the destruction of Israel before the safety and well-being of its own citizens.

    So that’s Gaza dealt with. Now let’s look at the West Bank.

    According to the PA it is a territorial dispute. Israel argues that it is concerned about the safety of its citizens but has stated on many occasions that it is willing to withdraw to safe borders in return for a guaranteed peace. (It did so in 1948 and again in 1967. Unfortunately the Arab states said ‘no’.) But surely this land / peace dispute is solvable by negotiations?

    Unfortunately there are a couple of impediments – the refusal of the PA (and other Arab states) to accept the existance of Israel as a Jewish state and the insistence of the right of return of all refugees who left / were expelled from / chose to leave their homes in the 1948 and 1967 wars as well as their children and their grandchildren and their great-grandchildren – a definition of ‘refugee’ applied only to ‘Palestinians’.

    Given the position taken by the PA, the solution is again obvious. Israel should annexe those parts of the West Bank which it believes it needs to guarantee the safety of its people (estimated to be less than 10% of the disputed territories); offer the ‘Palestinians’ living in the annexed are the option of becoming Israeli citizens (provisionally initially with a view to full citizenship when they have proved their allegiance / non-aggression) or leaving with financial compensation; and let the PA govern the rest as an independent state and decide what to call it.

    Israel would of course allow this new state to continue to import all the humanitarian aid etc it required and would continue to help the PA develop the economy of this new state as it has been doing for years. There would be no need to declare any state of war unless of course militants / terrorists within the PA started to attack Israel or allowed others to do so from the territory under its governance. Problem solved.

    Now I do realise that the three-state solution as outlined will not be acceptable to the Jihadist supporters of Hamas and the PA; but barring the total removal of Israel from the map of the world – with or without the annihilation of all Jews worldwide – I can’t see any other solution, so I’m going to have my lunch.

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