Guardian uncritically cites ‘expert’ views of racist and conspiracy theorist

Just how extreme and bigoted does someone have to be for Guardian editors to decide against granting his views on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict legitimacy?

Would you say that an ‘expert’ who’s a 9/11 conspiracy theorist – having argued that the attacks on NYC and Washington were an “inside job” – should be discredited as a source whose criticism of Israel has merit?

Further, what if such a ‘expert’ published blatantly anti-Semitic cartoons and articles on his blog, and endorsed the book of a neo-Nazi style racist?

And, what if this same ‘expert’ accused Israel of having “genocidal intentions” and of slouching towards a “Palestinian Holocaust” while, conversely, praising the late Iranian dictator Ayatollah Khomeini for his “humane governance”?

Well, according to the Guardian, the racist conspiracist cum ‘expert’ in question – Richard Falk – indeed deserves to have his criticism of Israel’s conduct of the war in Gaza amplified.

A recent update from the Guardian’s Live Blog of the war noted the following.

Dozens of international law experts, including John Dugard and Richard Falk, both former UN special rapporteurs on the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, have said the “civilian population of the Gaza Strip is under attack”. They say that the launch of rockets from Gaza is illegal under international law as well as morally intolerable but that Israel’s actions are of “incomparable magnitude”.

Blandly characterizing Richard Falk as an “international law expert” is of course akin to describing Gilad Atzmon – the Hitler apologist and Holocaust denier - as merely a jazz musician

Harriet Sherwood channels her inner Baghdad Bob in story on human shield ‘claims’

The Guardian, as with a relatively small but vocal and influential segment of the Western Left, is defined ideologically by their insistence that all people – and all political movements – are reasonable, and share more or less the same values regarding the sanctity of human life that they do. This dynamic – characterized by one academic a liberal cognitive egocentrism – is most pronounced in the Guardian’s coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, particularly when focus turns to the actions of Islamist extremist groups in the region.

Within their coverage of the current war, their correspondents (Peter Beaumont, Harriet Sherwood, and others) seem to process undeniable evidence of Hamas war crimes, such as their long-time use of human shields, as something akin to Zionist propaganda – ‘smears’ against the Palestinians which they seem determined to refute. (Indeed, such Guardian obfuscations about human shields are not deterred by the fact that Hamas spokespersons have admitted that the practice is effective.)

Harriet Sherwood’s July 24th article, In Gaza, Hamas fighters are among civilians. There is nowhere else for them to go‘ represents a classic example of this dynamic.

Her article begins thusly:

Israel‘s accusation that Hamas is using civilians as human shields has grown increasingly strident as the war in Gaza worsens.

The charge is laid relentlessly by political and military leaders and media commentators, repeated in conversations by members of the public and echoed in the comments of foreign politicians and diplomats. On the other side of the conflict, the accusation is vigorously denied by Hamas and others in Gaza.

The truth is lost amid the propaganda battle being waged alongside the shells, bombs, guns and rockets. What is certain is that the picture is more complicated than either side claims.

Then, Sherwood writes:

Israel claims Hamas routinely uses hospitals, mosques, schools and private homes to launch rockets at Israel, store weapons, hide command and control centres, shelter military personnel, and conceal tunnel shafts.

Here’s a video demonstrating Israeli “claims” that Hamas uses schools to launch attacks:

Sherwood continues:

On Wednesday, the IDF released a series of maps purporting to show Hamas military sites close to – but not in – schools, hospitals, mosques and residential buildings. It also released video, which it said showed militants using an ambulance to flee after coming under attack by IDF troops, and said the grounds and vicinity of al-Wafa hospital in Gaza City had been “repeatedly utilised by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad as a command centre, rocket-launching site, and a post enabling terrorists to open fire at soldiers”.

But the hospital’s director rejected the Israeli assertion that the hospital had been used for military purposes by Hamas or other militant groups

It’s likely that neither hospital director, nor Sherwood, saw the following video:

Additionally, reporters covering the war have reported that another hospital, al-Shifa, has been used as a command center for Hamas.  

William Booth wrote the following in a July 15th column for the Washington Post:

the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, crowds gathered to throw shoes and eggs at the Palestinian Authority’s health minister, who represents the crumbling “unity government” in the West Bank city of Ramallah. The minister was turned away before he reached the hospital, which has become a de facto headquarters for Hamas leaders, who can be seen in the hallways and offices.

The Jerusalem correspondent for the Financial Times (a publication not known for its pro-Israel sympathies) Tweeted this:

Then, Sherwood’s article takes an even stranger turn, seeming to suggest that even if Hamas fires from civilian areas, it’s arguably justified by their asymmetrical nature of the war.

The current war is not being fought on a conventional battlefield. Israel is pounding Gaza from the air, and its troops are increasingly fighting battles against a guerrilla army in densely populated urban areas – which constitute much of the Gaza Strip. As Israeli tanks and troops push further into the towns and cities, it is increasingly likely that Hamas will launch attacks from positions close to civilian buildings.

The separation between “civilian” and “military” in Gaza is much more blurred than with a conventional army – both physically and in the Gazan psyche. Hamas and other militants are embedded in the population. Their fighters are not quartered in military barracks, but sleep at night in their family homes.

Of course, the Geneva Convention prohibition against the use of human shields doesn’t grant a loophole for “guerrilla armies” operating in “populated urban areas”.  If there was such an exception, every terrorist group in the world would exploit it to ‘legally’ put innocent civilians in harm’s way when carrying out attacks on Western targets.  Additionally, Gaza’s population density (exaggerated though it is) seems to have little relevance in Hamas’s decision (over the course of several wars) to use mosques, hospitals and schools to hide arms and fire rockets. 

Then, Sherwood audaciously attempts to impute moral equivalence between Hamas and the IDF:

Israel, meanwhile, does not have an unblemished record in the use of human shields. In 2010, two soldiers were convicted in an IDF military court of using an 11-year-old Palestinian boy as a human shield in its 2008-09 operation in Gaza. The pair ordered the child to search bags they suspected of being booby-trapped.

Investigations by news organisations and human rights groups have suggested the IDF has used Palestinians as human shields in operations in both Gaza and the West Bank.

Of course, the key words in this passage about this solitary instance of using human shields are “two soldiers were convicted”, unwittingly demonstrating that such acts run completely counter to IDF policy. Indeed, as the article Sherwood linked to noted, “IDF protocols strictly prohibit the use of civilians as human shields.”  Moreover, like any good propagandist, Sherwood uses this one example – representing the rare exception in the context of any army which goes to unparalleled lengths to protect Palestinian civilians  – to impute a moral equivalence which any sober commentator would know is patently absurd. 

Here’s Former Col. Richard Kemp, who led British forces in Afghanistan, talk briefly about the media’s complicity in parroting the Hamas PR strategy:

 

Much like Baghdad Bob, the Iraqi diplomat most known for making comically inaccurate claims during press conferences with Western reporters in the early stages of the 2003 War, Sherwood’s obfuscations on behalf of the terrorist movement (which cynically exploits its own civilians to gain such propaganda victories) will likely one day be treated as a case study in the kind of propaganda which serves to defend the indefensible. 

UK media fail to report evidence contradicting presumption of IDF guilt in UN school deaths

On July 25th we posted about the UK media’s rush to judgement after 15 Palestinian civilians were reportedly killed at a UNWRA school in the Gaza city of Beit Hanoun last Thursday. The Guardian, Independent, The Times, The Telegraph, Daily Mail, and Daily Mirror were among the publications which immediately blamed Israel hours after the incident, despite the dearth of evidence at the time.

However, as we noted in our most recent post last night (July 27), an Israeli army inquiry into the fighting at the UN facility in Beit Hanoun found that IDF mortars did NOT play a role in the killing of 16 people in the school courtyard. The army admitted that an errant IDF-fired shell did hit the UN-run school’s yard, but at a time when there were evidently no people in the area – as the video further in this post shows.

More details were provided by IDF spokesman Peter Lerner, who told reporters yesterday that the IDF had returned fired at Hamas targets (which were stationed near the school) on the day in question, and that one of the errant tank mortars landed in the school courtyard, “injuring no one“. Lerner said it was “extremely unlikely” that anyone had been killed by the mortar round that fell in the empty yard. Lerner also noted that it was quite “out of the ordinary” that Palestinian health officials in Gaza did not share the nature of the wounds of the casualties, which may have shed light on the causes of death.

Here’s the IDF video we posted yesterday, which shows the errant tank shell landing in what appears to be a vacant school yard:

Now, let’s look back at the UK news organizations which immediately blamed Israel for the attack on the UN school.

The Guardian, July 25 (One of the lead stories)

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The Guardian, July 25 (Additional story on the attack)

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The Guardian, July 24 (Their initial video report on the attack)

guardian 2

(Additional live blog updates on the incident on July 24 at the Guardian similarly judged Israel guilty in the attack, and downplayed evidence of Hamas culpability.)

The Independent, July 24 (One of the lead stories)

indy

The Times

times

The Times, July 24 (An updated article by Catherine Philp of the one seen above included a headline charging Israel with committing a “massacre”)

massacre

Telegraph, July 24

telegraph 1

Telegraph, July 24

telegraph 2

 Daily Mail, July 24

daily mail

Daily Mirror, July 24

mirror

Not one of these UK news sites, at the time of this post, have revised their original articles or published a new story which includes the IDF’s new video evidence. 

Since the new information at the very least calls into question the accuracy of the initial reports, editors should take note of the clause in the Editor’s Code of Practice which demands the following:

A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and – where appropriate – an apology published. 

British Priest (and Guardian journalist) defends Palestinian terrorism

A Church of England Priest named Giles Fraser penned a column at the Guardian defending the Palestinian right of armed resistance.  

Giles Fraser

Giles Fraser

The column, If we can have a just war, why not just terrorism?‘ (which follows a similar pro-terrorism argument advanced by Guardian associate editor Seumas Milne in a column last week) begins by suggesting that the IDF intentionally targets civilians in Gaza, while benignly characterizing Palestinian acts of ‘retaliation’ against the ‘occupation’.

Or, to put it in terms of today’s news: the Israelis won’t have any definition that would make them terrorists for bombing old people’s homes in Gaza, and West Bank Palestinians won’t have any definition that will make them terrorists for fighting back against occupation with petrol bombs

In addition to the risible suggestion that the IDF targets the homes of innocent elderly Palestinians, such Palestinian ‘resistance’ includes much more than Fraser indicates.  Such acts of “resistance” have included (to cite just a few recent examples) the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers, Palestinian sniper fire at an Israeli civilian vehicle that killed a father of five, and an attempted suicide bombing.

Fraser then introduces us to his Palestinian protagonist:

I am eating aubergines and flatbread with Dr Samah Jabr in a cool Palestinian cafe in Stoke Newington….She is an educated, middle-class Palestinian (in no way a rabble-rouser) but she insists that the word terrorist has become a powerful…political pejorative employed to discredit legitimate resistance to the violence of occupation.

What some would call terrorism, she would call a moral duty. She gives me her paper on the subject. “Why is the word ‘terrorist’ so readily applied to individuals or groups who use homemade bombs, but not to states using nuclear and other internationally proscribed weapons to ensure submission to the oppressor?” she asks. She insists that violent resistance must be used in defence and as a last resort. And that it is important to distinguish between civilian and military targets. “The American media call our search for freedom ‘terrorism’,” she complains, “despite the fact that the right to self-determination by armed struggle is permissible under the UN charter’s article 51, concerning self-defence.”

Though Fraser uncritically cites Jabr’s claim that armed struggle is permissible under the UN charter’s article 51, a review of Article 51 demonstrates that there is no such right:

Here’s what Article 51 of the UN’s charter states:

Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.

The language is quite clear. UN “member states” have the right of self-defense, not armed terrorist groups and illegal militias.  Such a doctrine clearly grants Israel (a UN member state) has the right to respond to rocket fire, while Hamas, as an internationally proscribed terrorist group which indiscriminately attacks civilians, is not granted such a right under Article 51.

Fraser finishes:

I took part in the Moral Maze recently on Radio 4 and was howled at for suggesting that there could be a moral right of resistance to oppression. And the suggestion was made that, as a priest, I ought to take no such line.

 

It is nonsense to think that being a state grants some sort of blanket immunity from the charge of terrorism – and certainly not from the moral opprobrium we attach to that term. We talk of asymmetric warfare. This is asymmetric morality: one that, in terms of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, loads the dice in favour of the occupation. This is just not right.

It seems that a priest should avoid emboldening a proscribed terror movement by distorting international law to suggest that attacks on civilians may be legally justified, and – even more importantly – refrain from obfuscating the profound moral difference between homicidal antisemitic extremists and the Jews they’re trying to kill. 

 

Related articles

Official Guardian editorial blames Gaza war on….Ariel Sharon!

There’s apparently no limit to the capacity of Guardian editors to infantizile Palestinians, as an official editorial, July 25th, on the “causes of the fighting in Gaza” demonstrate.

sharon

Let’s jump to their main argument:

The chain of causation, as with so much else in Israel, leads back to Ariel Sharon

The Guardian explains:

He conceived of withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 as above all a tactic which would allow him to postpone wider negotiations on the future of the West Bank and weaken the Palestine Liberation Organisation. He would garner some peace laurels while inducing the Americans to give commitments on what Israel could keep when and if West Bank negotiations began again. It was a skillful and even a brave piece of political maneuvering both domestically and internationally; but it was also a cynical and ultimately a counter-productive one.

Israeli divide and rule policies had already had the effect of strengthening the PLO’s more militant rivals. Before disengagement, Israeli security forces attempted to decapitate the extremist leadership. Hamas might even so have opted for co-existence, but it did not. It went on to win the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections, and then the Hamas coup of 2007 set the stage for the periodic confrontations of which this month’s fighting is the latest, but not necessarily the last.

It will only be the last if it is grasped that the way Israel left Gaza institutionalised violent conflict rather than made it less likely. Those Israelis who portray the disengagement as an act of generosity for which they have received no credit misunderstand what happened. Unilateral disengagement in Gaza weakened Palestinian moderates, enabled successive Israeli governments to drag their feet in peace negotiations and is even now being used by prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who opposed it at the time, to lay down Israeli security requirements for any future disengagement from the West Bank which would make a peace settlement almost impossible to achieve

So, Ariel Sharon, and not Palestinians, was the party responsible for electing, in 2006, an antisemitic extremist terror group  which rejected Israel’s right to exist within any borders, to run their affairs.

And, evidently, Ariel Sharon, and not Hamas, was the party responsible for subsequently firing thousands of rockets at Israeli towns, abducting Israeli soldiers and engaging in other acts of terror.

Further, apparently it was Ariel Sharon’s fault that the leaders of Hamas diverted billions of dollars in aid money to construct a labyrinth of terror tunnels in the hopes of launching even more deadly cross border attacks on Israeli civilians.

Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza was, you see, was apparently just a sinister, furtive plan by Ariel Sharon to further subjugate Palestinians and – in the Guardian’s words – “institutionalize” Palestinian violence.

We’ve often argued that the Guardian’s denial of Palestinian moral agency – the liberal racism of no expectations – informs much of their coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, and this editorial is, in many respects, exhibit A.

(Editor’s note: The strap line for the Guardian editorial, “The roots of the violence go back to the Israeli withdrawal in 2005″, was cropped out of the graphic above to allow readers to see how they reached their conclusion further in the text.)

Guardian incites the crowd: Israel quickly blamed for Gaza school attack

Is there any provocation in which bombing schools and hospitals can be deemed a proportionate response by a civilized state?

The above quote was just a stray comment (in response to media reports about the attack on a UN school in Gaza yesterday) by an acquaintance on Facebook, but it  sums up exactly what happens when the media presumes the worse about Israel before the facts are in, ignoring counter evidence.

The incident occurred yesterday when 15 Palestinian civilians were killed at a UN school in Beit Hanoun – an assault that both Hamas and Israel claim might well be the fault of the other.

Though all the facts aren’t completely clear, here’s what we do know:

  • According to the IDF, there has been, for several days, continuous fire by Hamas from near the UN school (representing a violation of international law). However, before retaliating, the IDF attempted (over the course of three days) to facilitate the evacuation of all civilians per an official humanitarian window from 10:00 to 14:00 on Thursday – a temporary ceasefire which was evidently communicated to the UN and International Red Cross. 
  • As far as the tank shells or rockets which may have hit the school on Thursday, resulting in the civilian casualties, we know that, according to official sources, IDF sensors detected ‘errant’ Hamas rockets falling at least in the neighborhood of the school. It is also is being reported that Hamas fired at the IDF from near the Beit Hanoun school and that “soldiers responded by targeting the source of the fire”, tank fire which may have hit the school or the area around the school.
  • So, while we know that Hamas was once again using its illegal human shield strategy at the school in Beit Hanoun to shield its fighters, as of now, the UN still hasn’t determined whether Hamas rockets or IDF tank shells were ultimately to blame.

So, though while the sequence of events are unclear at this point, a day after the tragedy, this didn’t stop the UK media’s immediate rush to judgment – blaming Israel for the Palestinian deaths, and ignoring Hamas’s use of human shields.

While some US media outlets were – quite tellingly – much more fair and circumspect in their initial assessments (avoiding headlines which blamed either side), the following headlines at the Guardian, Independent and Times (of London), published when very little information was known, indicate a troubling lack of restraint and objectivity. 

(First, here’s the Telegraph, the only major UK paper we reviewed that avoided immediately blaming Israel for the Palestinian deaths. Though the British tabloid The Daily Mail used an AP report with a similarly non-judgmental headline.)

telegraph

Now, for the others:

Owen Jones:

Indy, New Statesman and Guardian commentator Owen Jones Tweeted this, early in the morning on Thursday, before any facts were established (and even before major news sites reported the story), using the unproven allegation of an Israeli ‘atrocity’ to promote an anti-Israel event on Saturday.

owen jones tweet (2)

The Guardian being, well, the Guardian:

guardian

Guardian home page, July 24

(Additional Guardian reportsand live blog updates, on the incident yesterday and this morning similarly judged Israel guilty in the attack, and downplayed evidence of Hamas culpability)

Times (of London):

times

The Independent:

indy

One last thing. If you think that the media isn’t capable of employing restraint and avoiding the tempting rush to judgment, here’ are two stories featured side by side yesterday on the Indy’s Middle East page: one on the attack in Beit Hanoun and the other one focusing on reports that the Islamist extremist group ISIS (aka, The Islamic State) announced that women in the territory they control would be forced to undergo Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

unnamed

Independent, July 24th, Middle East page

It’s interesting that while the Indy was quick to defend the jihadist group from the ‘smear’ that they’re enforcing FGM, they showed no such concern for what may be another vicious libel against the Jewish state – one which, as we’ve seen, may have dangerous repercussions for Jews in the UK and across Europe.  

 

Guardian brings back Jihad Misharawi photo to illustrate ‘Israeli attacks’

Hamas terrorists fired approximately 2270 rockets at Israeli civilians since the beginning of the current war. We know that a percentage of mortars and Grad rockets have fallen short and landed in Gazan territory – quite possibly (based on past experiences) injuring or killing Palestinian civilians. You may recall that most UK media outlets accused Israel of firing a missile, during the 2012 war in Gaza, which killed the 11 month old son of BBC Arabic cameraman Jihad Misharawi.

old

Elder of Ziyon and BBC Watch (and other blogs) were among those who examined the evidence and suggested that Omar Misharawi was actually more than likely killed by an errant Palestinian rocket.

Their skepticism was well-founded.

On March 6th 2013 the United Nations Human Rights Council issued an advance version of its report on the November war and noted the following about the death of Ahmad Misharawi.

“On 14 November, a woman, her 11-month-old infant, and an 18-year-old adult in Al-Zaitoun were killed by what appeared to be a Palestinian rocket that fell short of Israel.” [emphasis added]

Following communication with CiF Watch in the days following the release of the UNHRC report, quite a few UK media outlets corrected their original stories, and noted that a Palestinian rocket likely caused the death of Misharawi’s son. 

greenslade

So, we were somewhat surprised to say the least to see the following photo accompany a batch of Guardian letters published on July 23rd. (Note the caption below the photo.) 

masharawiThey decided to use a photo of an infant who was killed by an ‘errant’ Palestinian rocket to illustrate the view – expressed by one letter writer – that “Israel’s attacks are an extension of military rule and collective punishment by a brutal apartheid state”.

Evidently, old, disproven media smears against Israel never actually die.  

They simply get recycled at the Guardian. 

One sentence by the Guardian’s Mid-East editor explains their coverage of the war

 To date, the Guardian’s coverage of the war has revealed the following:

  • A focus on claims of Israeli war crimes, and silence concerning Hamas’s widespread (and well-documented) illegal use of human shields.
  • The acceptance of Palestinians claims (about the number of civilians casualties, for instance) at face value.
  • A dearth of commentaries (at their blog, Comment is Free, political cartoons, etc.) that are critical of Hamas.

Indeed, one sentence in a July 23rd article (UN human rights body to investigate claims of Israeli violations in Gaza) written by the Guardian’s Middle East editor, Ian Black, arguably helps explains at least the last dynamic we cited.

While providing analysis on the predictable decision by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) “to launch an international inquiry into violations” against Israel, Black makes the following observation about demands to end Israel’s blockade.  

“Pillay [the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights] also called for an end to the blockade of Gaza, the underlying reason for the conflict and an issue that will have to be tackled if any ceasefire is to endure.”

So, Israel’s legal Naval blockade of weapons to Gaza, according to the Guardian’s senior Middle East editor, represents the “underlying reason for the conflict” between Israel and Hamas!  

Does it really need to be pointed out that the blockade is meant to curtail the terrorist group’s capacity to import deadly weapons into the strip and that, in lieu of such restrictions, Hamas would be free to acquire even more accurate and deadly weapons than they’re using in the current war?

Does Black honestly believe that Hamas leaders truly only desire an end to the blockade in order to provide a better standards of living for Gazans?

Does Black not know that Hamas has diverted tens of millions of dollars in imported cement and other construction materials (supposedly meant for “humanitarian projects” such as roads, schools and clinics) to construct terror tunnels and other weapons of war?

However, beyond the specifics of the blockade and Black’s absurd reduction of the conflict, it’s amazing that such putatively sophisticated journalists fail to understand the blockade is the result of Hamas’s aggression, not its cause.  

It all seems to come down to an intellectually crippling political correctness which insists upon imputing reasonableness to even the most malevolent political actors.

Such absurd moral equivalencies are what drive Guardian editors to continually fail to even note that the Sunni Islamist group (the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood) is an extremist organization, one which oppresses women and gays, shuns democratic values, rejects the very idea of peace with the Jewish State, and promotes the most virulent form of antisemitism, which includes explicit incitement to engage in the mass murder of Jews.

Hamas’s reactionary politics  – their contempt for modern notions of tolerance, freedom, individual rights and the sanctity of human life – is of course the underlying cause of the conflict, and it continually baffles us how such putatively anti-racists can’t morally distinguish between antisemitic extremists and the Jews they’re trying so desperately to kill. 

Facts about the battle of Shejaiya the Guardian didn’t report

On July 20th, we posted about two Guardian reports, by Harriet Sherwood and Peter Beaumont, on recent fighting between the IDF and Hamas in the Gaza City neighbourhood of Shejaiya, a few kilometers from Israel’s border.

We noted that the Guardian devoted 625 words to the battles that took place in Shejaiya and, while focusing almost entirely on civilian casualties, failed to include even a word about the reason for the military operation.  Specifically, Sherwood and Beaumont didn’t inform readers that the civilian neighborhood of Shujaiya housed an underground terror headquarters and storage areas for rockets, bombs, and other weapons.

Below are excerpts from two articles about the battle, written by two of the leading Israeli journalists, Ron Ben Yishai and Nahum Barnea, both in the Israeli newspaper Yediot Achronot.

The translation is by CAMERA:

Ron Ben Yishai
Yediot Achronot“Gaza time, Cairo Time”
Sunday July 20, 2014 (excerpts)

 

Regarding the fighting in Shejaiyya: it is reasonable to assume that the main reason there was so much resistance, was the lack of surprise. Four days prior to entering Shejaiyya, the IDF demanded again and again from the residents to evacuate. Towards the entrance, the IDF started a heavy artillery attack on the outskirts of Shejaiyya. The Hamas and Islamic Jihad, therefore, had four days and a warning of a few hours that the IDF is going in. This is why – as opposed to Hamas fighters escaping to their hiding places when the IDF launched the sudden ground attack – this time they hid traps, prepared anti-tank ambushes and waited for the Golani brigade, tanks and bulldozers to come in.

Another reason is that Shejaiyya is in effect a military compound prepared for fighting, which is planted in the heart of the civilian population. All of the assets that are important for the terror organizations are there: welding workshops for manufacturing rockets, labs for making explosives, rocket warehouses, hidden rocket launchers, command centers, and a tunnel system that enables the terrorists to move between these facilities quickly without being concerned about getting hit from the air. There are also entrances to tunnels that lead into Israel.

Shejaiyya’s location makes it preferable in the context of distance and as an observation point – for shooting towards the local surroundings as well as towards the Tel Aviv area and northwards. This is why it’s not surprising that Hamas and Jihad decided to fight for Shejaiyya, and they had time to prepare for such fighting.

Golani did what they came to do, fought and died, but it is quite clear that they continued and completed the mission, including extricating their [wounded and dead] friends.

That was the reason that the IDF began a heavy attack on Shejaiyya in the morning, with artillery, planes, helicopters and tanks. There was concern that Hamas will try to grab bodies of soldiers who lay dead in the streets, or wounded Golani soldiers. In order to cover the rescue mission and prevent [the terrorists from] coming close, the IDF shot into the neighborhood, and this is why many Palestinians who were not involved in the fighting were hit – including women and children. These photos did, and are still doing, damage for Israel in the international arena. But, as just said, there was a necessity to act in order to prevent the kidnapping of dead or injured soldiers. It seems the international community understands this.

Nahum Barnea
Yediot Achronot, The Bint Jbeil of Gaza

Monday July 21, 2014, page 2 of the print edition (excerpts)(The words of an IDF officer to the journalist Nahum Barnea):

“Shejaiyya probably has the most concentrated number of tunnels in Gaza. The neighborhood is dense, the homes are high, some have five or six stories… Many residents fled. Some stayed. Hamas people were threatening them with weapons. I saw this with my own eyes. We dropped warning pamphlets on them telling them to leave; we called them on the phone; we shot towards the outskirts of the open areas; we shot close to the houses. We could not do more than this. Anyone who had half a brain left and whoever stayed, stayed.”

Guardian likens Hamas rockets to “useless fireworks”

The Guardian, in an official editorial on the war in Gaza, argued the following:

In all the years they have been swooping over the border like useless fireworks, the primitive rockets that Hamas fires at Israel have killed hardly anybody. They scare people, close supermarkets, disrupt business and increase insurance premiums.

They’re of course referring to the more than 15,000 deadly projectiles fired from Gaza since 2001.

Here is the arsenal of “primitive rockets” the Guardian is referring to:

SIN03_ISRAEL-GAZA-ROCKETS-T_0306_11

Here’s a glimpse into the effects of the “useless” fireworks” “swooping over the border” to the southern Israeli city of Sderot:

 

Contrary to Guardian claims (that “hardly anybody” has been killed by these “useless fireworks”), at least 20 Israelis have been killed in Gaza rocket attacks since 2001, and 15 have been killed in Gaza mortar attacks. (sources: here, here, here, here, here, and here). Over a thousand Israelis have been injured in such attacks.

Finally, every Gaza rocket (all 15,000) of course has the capacity to kill an Israeli man, woman or child, and all represent an attempt to do just that.

Describing such deadly instruments of war as “useless fireworks” (which have killed ‘hardly anyone’) is simply untrue, and grossly insensitive to Israeli victims. 

Guardian cartoon depicts Bibi with suicide vest of dead Palestinians

Like any good Guardian Left contributor, Cartoonist Steve Bell seems to share the philosophy of his colleague Martin Rowson, who believes his ‘progressive mission is to ‘afflict the powerful, and comfort the afflicted’.  Within this facile moral paradigm, Jews represent the former and Palestinians the latter.  

In addition to the fact that some of his cartoons have evoked antisemitic narratives (or mock the very idea of antisemitic tropes), as far as we can tell Bell has never used his skills as an artist to demonize Palestinian suicide bombers – as they, it seems, even as they are igniting their murderous device, represent the ‘afflicted’. Though in at least one cartoon he mocked – as hypocritical – Israeli condemnation of said bombers. 

He revisited the topic of suicide bombers in a cartoon published at the Guardian on July 21st. The cartoon was inspired by comments of the Israeli Prime Minister about Hamas’s exploitation of Palestinian casualties, in which he made the painfully obvious observation that the group puts civilians in harm’s way because they know that images of dead Palestinians in Western papers helps their cause. 

Here’s the full quote, from an interview Netanyahu gave to CNN:

“These people are the worst terrorists — genocidal terrorists,” he said. “They call for the destruction of Israel and they call for the killing of every Jew, wherever they can find them.”

“They want to pile up as many civilian dead as they can,” the prime minister continued. “They use telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause. They want the more dead, the better.”

Now, here’s the cartoon:

cartoon

It’s not entirely clear what Bell is trying to communicate, but the suicide belt (presumably made up coffins containing dead Palestinians) on Netanyahu strongly suggests that he – not, of course, Hamas – is the one responsible for killing innocent Palestinians in Gaza.

Such visual anti-Israel agitprop, which neatly serves the cause of Palestinian extremists, is par for the course at the Guardian.  

The Hamas propaganda strategy is of course dependent on Western media groups playing along, not only by highlighting every tragic Palestinian civilian death, but by also pretending that such casualties are not in fact the result of Hamas’s cynical strategy of using human shields and other tactics meant to maximize the number of casualties.

It’s difficult to understand how the Guardian can continually demonize the democratic Jewish state, while parroting the narrative of reactionary extremists, and yet, evidently, still fancy themselves a liberal institution.   

Guardian op-ed mocks “claims” of Hamas use of human shields

 The strap line of a recent Guardian op-ed by  (a blogger at Lenin’s tomb) says it all.

oped

Here’s the entire post:

They hid at the El-Wafa hospital.

They hid at the Al-Aqsa hospital.

They hid at the beach, where children played football.

They hid at the yard of 75-year-old Muhammad Hamad.

They hid among the residential quarters of Shujaya.

They hid in the neighbourhoods of Zaytoun and Toffah.

They hid in Rafah and Khan Younis.

They hid in the home of the Qassan family.

They hid in the home of the poet, Othman Hussein.

They hid in the village of Khuzaa.

They hid in the thousands of houses damaged or destroyed.

They hid in 84 schools and 23 medical facilities.

They hid in a cafe, where Gazans were watching the World Cup.

They hid in the ambulances trying to retrieve the injured.

They hid themselves in 24 corpses, buried under rubble.

They hid themselves in a young woman in pink household slippers, sprawled on the pavement, taken down while fleeing.

They hid themselves in two brothers, eight and four, lying in the intensive burn care unit in Al-Shifa.

They hid themselves in the little boy whose parts were carried away by his father in a plastic shopping bag.

They hid themselves in the “incomparable chaos of bodies” arriving at Gaza hospitals.

They hid themselves in an elderly woman, lying in a pool of blood on a stone floor.

Hamas, they tell us, is cowardly and cynical.

To Seymour, it seems that these ‘claims’ are all nothing but dishonest Israeli hasbara.

Evidently, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri was lying when he said the following:

Similarly, the following video of Grad rocket launchers discovered next to a school in Beit Hanoun, Gaza is evidently staged.

Video evidence of Hamas fighters firing from within civilian homes in Gaza is also nothing but propaganda.

And, what of this clip of terrorists in Gaza using an ambulance to escape? Again, evidently nothing but savvy Israeli PR.

 

The Washington Post’s dispatch from the Gaza front included a first hand account of rockets being moved into a mosque during Thursday’s five-hour humanitarian ceasefire, and accounts of Hamas leaders using Shifa Hospital in Gaza City as a de facto headquarters, were also seemingly both lies.

First hand accounts of underground terror headquarters, including storage areas for rockets, bombs, and other weapons built under the densely populated civilian neighborhood of Shejaiyya, are also untrue.

Further, declassified aerial photos showing Hamas rocket launchers under mosques and at hospitals in Gaza were also fabrications.

You see, for Seymour, the ‘claim’ that Hamas is “cowardly and cynical”, and routinely uses human shields – as part of their strategy of using the deaths of Palestinians to garner international sympathy – is all Zionist propaganda. 

Don’t believe your eyes.

Believe the Guardian.

Guardian cartoon mocks IDF efforts to avoid civilian casualties

The IDF routinely drops leaflets, sends recorded messages and places calls and text messages (and often sends ‘knock on the door’ warning shots) in advance of attacks in Gaza, warning civilians to distance themselves from Hamas weapons and operatives – and to take refuge in designated safe areas – as part of efforts to minimize civilian harm.  (The IDF also often delays or calls off attacks if civilians don’t heed such warnings.)

Hamas on the other hand has admitted to using Palestinians as human shields to prevent Israeli attacks on rocket launchers and terror tunnels (often hidden beneath civilian structures, such as homes and even mosques), often telling their civilian population to stay in their homes prior to an attack.  Such Hamas tactics represent a tacit acknowledgement that the IDF goes to extraordinary lengths to avoid harming civilians, and can be expected to proceed with much greater caution when engaging in an attack on Hamas terrorists if civilians are in the vicinity.  

Also, as Jeffrey Goldberg noted: Dead Palestinians also represent a crucial propaganda victory “for the nihilists of Hamas”.

In stark contrast to Hamas’s cruel indifference to the suffering of their own population, it’s unclear if any army in the world goes to such lengths to avoid civilian casualties as the IDF.

No matter. Much of the media – and other ‘commentators‘ – have been on a crusade to obfuscate this clear moral divide.

To boot, a ‘First Dog on the Moon cartoon which appeared in the Guardian on July 21st:

headline

dog on the moon

 

  • As we’ve noted, contrary to the suggestion in the frames, Palestinians called by the IDF are informed of designated safe zones where they should flee. 
  • Contrary to what the text in the cartoon implies, the homes in question are targeted because they’re used by Hamas to store weapons (such as rockets) or other instruments of war. Indeed, reading the cartoon, you’d be forgiven for believing that the IDF launches missiles at civilian homes for no particular reason.
  • Finally, note the second to the final frame, which really says it all: Israeli warnings to civilians are summed up as a threat that the IDF will kill Palestinian children if they (presumably Hamas fighters) choose “to fight back”.

The cartoon is a lie, graphic agitprop which represents yet another example of the foreign media running interference for the reactionary, antisemitic extremist group currently waging a war of their own choosing against the Jewish State.

 

Jenin redux? Guardian omits reports of rockets, terror tunnels in Shejaiya

Here’s the scare headline accompanying a Guardian report by Harriet Sherwood and Peter Beaumont on July 20th:

scare headline

The article centers on a few recent battles in Gaza, including a large anti-terror operation in the northern city of Shejaiya.

Regarding Shejaiya, we are told the following:

All morning, terrified people ran from their homes, some barefoot and nearly all empty-handed. Others crowded on the backs of trucks or rode on the bonnets of cars in a desperate attempt to flee. Sky News reported that some had described a “massacre” in Shujai’iya. Witnesses reported hearing small arms fire inside Gaza, suggesting gun battles on the streets. Heavy shelling continued from the air and sea.

Bodies were pulled from rubble amid massive destruction of buildings in the neighbourhood. Masked gunmen were on the streets.

Late on Saturday evening, Israeli forces hit eastern areas of Gaza City with the heaviest bombardment yet of the 13-day war. The assault was most intense in the direction of Shujai’iya, where an orange glow of flames lit up the sky. At one stage, artillery and mortar rounds were hitting the outskirts of the city every five seconds. Later in the night jets flew low passes over the coast.

The Guardian saw families squeezing into the back of what few vehicles were available as streets further east were pounded by artillery fire.

Columns of people, many of them too scared, angry and shocked to speak, approached down the main road to the east and from side streets even as small arms fire was audible in the distance.

One of those fleeing was Sabreen Hattad, 34, with her three children. “The Israeli shells were hitting the house. We stayed the night because we were so scared but about six in the morning we decided to escape,” she said.

“But where are we supposed to go? The ambulances could not enter and so we ran under shell fire.”

Three other men pass by in a hurry clutching bedding in their arms. Asked what they had seen they would only answer: “Death and horror.”

Many of those escaping Shujai’iya made for Gaza’s central Shifa hospital, which was engulfed by chaotic scenes and ambulances ferrying the dead came in a steady steam, among them a local TV cameraman, Khaled Hamad, killed during the overnight offensive, wheeled out wrapped in a bloody plastic shroud.

Those who had fled congregated in corridors, on stairs and in the hospital car park. Staff put mattresses on floors to accommodate the injured, while some patients were being evacuated.

Aish Ijla, 38, whose leg was broken by shrapnel, said: “We live very close to the border. When the shells started we couldn’t leave the house. It is two storeys. The shells were hitting the upper floor so we all moved downstairs. There were 30 of us in the house. Then the shrapnel started hitting the door.

“It was quiet for a moment and we decided to run. But as we were on the road a shell landed near me, breaking my leg. I told the family to go on with out me and carried on going for a little bit and stopping then going on. Eventually an ambulance reached me after two hours.”

An accompanying article by Sherwood and Beaumont included this about Shujai’iya:

Late on Saturday evening, Israeli forces hit eastern areas of Gaza City with the heaviest bombardment yet of the 13-day war. The assault was most intense in the direction of the Shujai’iya neighbourhood, where a constant orange glow of flames lit up the sky.

As the assault continued into Sunday morning, Israel disclosed that four of its soldiers had been killed in the ground offensive.

At one stage, artillery and mortar rounds were hitting the outskirts of the city every five seconds. Later in the night, jets flew low passes over the coast.

As Sunday dawned, a thin pall of smoke hung over the seafront while tank fire echoed through deserted streets.

Large numbers of residents of the areas under attack fled the outskirts for Gaza’s city centre, while residents called radio stations pleading for evacuation.

In total, the Guardian provided 625 words to the battle in Shuja’iya, and failed to include even a word about the reason for the military assault, despite the fact that Israeli officials were quick to post the following information:

This civilian neighborhood in Gaza is home to extensive Hamas infrastructure. In only 13 days, Hamas has fired over 140 rockets from this neighborhood into Israel.

IDF soldiers have found 10 openings to terror tunnels in Shuja’iya. These tunnels are used for infiltrating Israel, smuggling weapons, and launching rockets at Israeli civilians.

The IDF warned civilians in Shuja’iya to evacuate the area many days before striking the terror infrastructure within it. Dropping leaflets, making phone calls and sending text messages are just some of the many actions the IDF has been taking to minimize civilian casualties in Gaza.

Hamas knows that Israel is reluctant to attack areas with many civilians. The terrorist organization fights from within civilian population and uses them as human shields.

Hamas ordered the residents of Shuja’iya to ignore the IDF’s warning and stay in the neighborhood. By doing so, Hamas put them in the line of fire.

Despite the fact that many of the residents ignored warnings and didn’t leave the neighborhood, the IDF continued to operate in the most precise and surgical way possible, targeting only terrorists and their infrastructure.

The IDF agreed to the Red Cross’ request for a two-hour humanitarian window in Shuja’iya. This humanitarian window was opened despite the threats emanating from the neighborhood, including continuous Hamas rocket fire at Israel.

Hamas broke the humanitarian window when firing at Israel during the two-hour period. Still, the IDF agreed to the Red Cross appeal to extend the Humanitarian widow by another hour.

In light of the selective reporting and unsubstantiated accusations of massacres, you should recall that for two weeks in April of 2002, the Guardian ran wild tales of an Israeli massacre in the West Bank city of Jenin — a massacre that didn’t happened.

As Harry’s Place wrote in 2012, on the 10th anniversary of the non-massacre:

On the heels of a thirty-day Palestinian suicide bombing campaign in Israeli cities which included thirteen deadly attacks (imagine thirteen 7/7’s in one month), Israel embarked on a military offensive in the West Bank.  The fiercest fighting in this offensive occurred in the refugee camp just outside the West Bank town of Jenin, the launching point for 30 Palestinian suicide bombers in the year and half previous (seven were caught before they could blow themselves up; the other 23 succeeded in carrying out their attacks).  In this battle, which lasted less than a week, 23 Israeli soldiers were killed as well as 52 Palestinians, of whom at most 14 were civilians (there is some marginal dispute about that last figure).

[Seumas] Milne referred to ‘hundreds’ killed, ‘evidence of atrocities,’ and ‘state terror.’  Not to be outdone, Suzanne Goldenberg reported from Jenin’s ‘lunar landscape’ of ‘a silent wasteland, permeated with the stench of rotting corpses and cordite.’  She found ‘convincing accounts’ of summary executions, though let’s be honest and concede that it’s not generally difficult to convince Goldenberg of Israeli villainy.  In the next day’s report from Jenin, a frustrated Goldenberg reported that the morgue in Jenin had ‘just 16 bodies’ after ‘only two bodies [were] plucked from the wreckage.’  This didn’t cause her to doubt for a moment that there were hundreds more buried beneath or to hesitate in reporting from a Palestinian source that bodies may have been transported ‘to a special zone in Israel.’  Brian Whitaker and Chris McGreal weighed in with their own equally tendentious and equally flawed reporting the following week.

Only on the tenth consecutive day of breathless Jenin Massacre reporting did Peter Beaumont report on detailed Israeli accounts refuting the massacre accusations, though predictably this was presented as part of an Israeli PR campaign rather than as conclusive proof.  Two days later, Beaumont conceded that there hadn’t after all technically really actually been a massacre but then proceeded to repeat a handful of falsities as fact all over again.  Without a doubt, though, the most memorable article the Guardian published on Jenin was its April 17 leader ‘The Battle for the Truth.’  The high dudgeon prose included the following sentences: ‘Jenin camp looks like the scene of a crime’; ‘Jenin smells like a crime’; ‘Jenin feels like a crime’; ‘Jenin already has that aura of infamy that attaches to a crime of especial notoriety’; and, unforgettably, the assertion that Israel’s actions in Jenin were ‘every bit as repellent’ as the 9/11 attacks in New York only seven months earlier.

No correction or retraction has ever been printed for this infamous editorial.

On the contrary, though mounting evidence emerged that the whole massacre calumny was a fabrication (never adequately reported by the Guardian), twice over the following year this leader article was obliquely cited — once in condemning another Israeli action by comparing it to the ‘repellent demolition of lives and homes in Jenin’ and most outrageously under the headline ‘Israel still wanted for questioning.’

Whilst it’s too soon to tell if subsequent Guardian articles on the battle in Shuja’iya will be modeled after their Jenin Lie, the galling omissions in the first two reports by Beaumont and Sherwood suggest, at the very least, the media group has learned nothing from past journalistic failures.

Related articles

The Guardian moves Modi’in to Palestine

The Guardian published a letter on July 18th by an Israeli from Modi’in, a city in the center of the country where this writer also lives.

west bank

However, Modi’in is fully within Israel, west of the Green Line. (Within the greater Modi’in-Maccabim-Reut municipality, Maccabim is located in what’s known as no-man’s land, but Mr. Youngerwood does not live in Maccabim, but in Modi’in proper.)

Interestingly, Modi’in was correctly placed in Israel by the BBC in a July 18th article in which Mr. Youngerwood was quoted in a story featuring Palestinian and Israeli views on the current IDF ground operation.

bbc

In fairness, the Guardian’s latest geographic “editing error” is of course small potatoes as, you may recall, they used to claim that Tel Aviv was Israel’s capital.