Economist: Is it possible to understand why Hamas fires rockets at civilians?

No, the Economist didn’t explicitly ask the question: Is it possible to understand why Hamas fires rockets at civilians?  The headline of this post is inspired by an article by Ben White in 2001 titled ‘Is it possible to understand the rise in antisemitism?‘, which empathized with anti-Semites.

To boot, a July 19th article in the print edition The Economist purports to explain ‘Why Hamas Fires those Rockets‘ (pay wall), and reaches a predictable conclusion.

The anonymous article begins:

MANY Gazans, not just their leaders in Hamas, think they have little to lose by fighting on. For one thing, the spotlight has been switched back onto them since the Israeli campaign began earlier this month. In Gazan eyes, Hamas gains from the violence because the outside world may, as a result of the grim publicity generated by the bloodshed, feel obliged to consider its grievances afresh.

Whilst there is no doubt that Hamas perversely believes a war in which Palestinian civilians are killed strengthens their position, there is little evidence that this view is supported by ordinary Gazans. Though there’s been no polling during the current conflict, last month The Washington Institute commissioned a leading Palestinian pollster to gauge the views of Gazans, and the results appear to contradict the Economist’s conclusions:

While you can see the full poll here, the results to some of the questions clearly seem to contradict the Economist’s claim that Gazans “think they have little to lose by fighting”.

As tensions mounted and Hamas and other Gazan factions began to step up rocket fire [in June], the people of that territory were heavily in favor of a ceasefire — 70 percent of the poll respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “Hamas should maintain a ceasefire with Israel in both Gaza and the West Bank.” This attitude is corroborated by the 73 percent of Gazans who said Palestinians should adopt “proposals for (nonviolent) popular resistance against the occupation.” Similarly, when asked if Hamas should accept Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas’s position that the new unity government renounce violence against Israel, a clear majority (57 percent) answered in the affirmative. The responses to all three questions clearly indicate that most Gazans reject military escalation.

The Economist article continued:

After the last big Israeli effort to stop the rockets, in November 2012, it was agreed that, along with a ceasefire, the blockade of Gaza would gradually be lifted and the crossings into Egypt and Israel would be opened. The ceasefire generally held, but the siege continued. As Gazans see it, they have remained cruelly shut up in an open-air prison. Firing rockets, many of them argue, is the only way they can protest, even though they know the Israelis are bound, from time to time, to punish them.

First, the ceasefire (after the 2012 war) did not hold, as they claim, as there were roughly 40 rocket and mortar attacks on Israel from Gaza in 2013 alone.  As far as ‘the siege’ (by which he’s referring to Israel’ legal blockade of arms and dual use items which could be used for military purposes), Israel did in fact ease restrictions on imports into Gaza. This included allowing for the import of greater quantities of construction material (including cement) for private use and humanitarian purposes, much of which has clearly been diverted by Hamas to build terror tunnels and other military facilities. 

The Economist then makes the following claim:

Mr Netanyahu’s government has prevented Mr Abbas from reasserting his authority, as part of the unity deal, over Gaza—and from paying off Hamas civil servants there. 

However, Netanyahu had nothing to do with the failure of the new unity government to pay Hamas civil servants, as multiple reports demonstrate.

Reuters:

The inauguration on Monday of a unity government under a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation pact raised expectations among Hamas-hired servants that they would now receive their wages. Thousands joined their PA-payroll colleagues at Gaza ATMs on Thursday, hoping to withdraw their salaries.

But the Hamas employees came away empty-handed, and a spokesman for the [Palestinian] unity government said they still had to be vetted by a committee before they could be added to the new leadership’s payroll

Al-Jazeera and other news sites reported the exact same thing.

The Economist concluded their report thusly:

The Gazan grievance over prisoners stirs great passion among Palestinians everywhere. After three Israeli students were kidnapped on the West Bank on June 12th and later found murdered, the Israeli security forces rounded up more than 500 Hamas people, even though the movement did not claim responsibility for the crime. The increase in rocket fire was partly intended as a protest against the round-up of prisoners. Any ceasefire, says Hamas, must include the release at least of those detained in the past month.

First, the two main suspects in the Israeli boys’ murders are Hamas members. Second, Hamas (who, let’s remember) praised the kidnapping) has been planning and publicly calling to kidnap Israelis for years. Indeed, there were dozens of unsuccessful attempts at kidnapping Israelis (many by Hamas members) in the year prior to the kidnapping and murder of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel.

As Etta Prince-Gibson wrote in Ha’aretz (pay wall):

Last year, the organization [Hamas] even distributed an 18-page “Field Manual for Kidnapping” to its Qassam Brigades, providing detailed explanations on how to target Israeli soldiers, when to kidnap (rainy days are best) and how to avoid being caught (don’t use the Internet or phone).

Lastly, note that the Economist characterized Hamas rocket attacks – intentional attacks on Israeli civilians which constitute war crimes under international law – as a mere “protest” against Israel. 

In reading the Economist’s imputation of reasonableness to Hamas, you’d be forgiven for momentarily forgetting that they’re antisemitic extremist terror group which rejects the existence of the Jewish State within any borders.

The empathy for the terrorist group Hamas – and not merely for innocent Palestinian civilians – displayed by the ‘sophisticated’ Brits at the Economist (as with much of the UK media during the current war) is at times astounding. 

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.

 

On the Indy’s hypocrisy over that Bill Maher Tweet

The Independent recently covered the evidently serious controversy surrounding the following Tweet by comedian Bill Maher.

The Indy, in an article published today (July 18th), had a clear critical editorial stance towards the Tweet: 

Bill Mayer has sparked a bitter backlash online for appearing to condone Israeli aggression in Gaza and domestic violence in one, foul Twitter swoop.

“You can only hold her wrists for so long before you have to slap her,” he wrote.

The caustic American comedian, who is himself of Jewish heritage, compared Palestinian Sunni Islamic organisation Hamas to a “crazy woman trying to kill you”.

His controversial “joke” comes as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the IDF had launched a directive for “ground action” against Gaza.

Palestinian health officials say that 233 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli air and naval strikes during 10 days of conflict. Meanwhile, one Israeli civilian has been killed by fire from Gaza.

His comments were heavily criticised, not just for appearing to suggest a pro-Israel stance, but also for appearing to be insensitive to victims of domestic violence:

Note that readers are informed that Maher is Jewish, despite the fact that he’s only half-Jewish, and is a well-known agnostic and fierce critic of religion – a gratuitous reference which may be inconsistent with the section of the Editor Code which warns against providing details of an individual’s religion unless relevant to the story.

However, for some reason, editors at the Indy covered the story of a British comedian named Alexis Sayle – who gave an interview where he likened Israel to a child rapist and a psychopath – in a context which appeared to at least legitimize his comparison:

First, here’s the video: 

 

The July 15th Indy story begins:

Comedian and pro-Palestinian activist Alexei Sayle has fiercely condemned Israel’s air strikes in the Gaza Strip, by comparing the nation’s behaviour to that of prolific sex offender Jimmy Savile.

His comments were released after Israel resumed airstrikes in the Gaza Strip – killing one Palestinian civilian – after Hamas rejected a ceasefire plan and continued rocket attacks. 166 people in Gaza have died in the week-long offensive, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

“Israel is the Jimmy Saville of nation states,” Sayle said on Tuesday during an interview with advocacy group Caabu.

“It clearly doesn’t care about damaging the lives of children,” he added, referring to the late entertainer.

Sayle also described Israel as a “teenager that’s never been given any boundaries.”

“[Israel] is endlessly indulged by its doting parents, the West, and has become a psychopath as a result.

“It thinks that everybody else is in the wrong and it is in the right,” he said.

Note that while Maher’s Tweet was criticized for “taking a pro-Israel stance” (and offending women, which, by itself, is a reasonable conclusion), there’s not a word in the Sayle story suggesting that his comparison between Israel and a child molester just may be a bit offensive, either to Israelis or victims of child abuse. 

Of course, the big difference between Maher and Sayle is that the former was taking aim at an Islamist group which openly incites its followers to kill Jews, while Sayle was going after the state being targeted by these antisemitic extremists. 

The moral confusion amongst segments of the British Left is at times astounding. 

Guardian logic used to blame Israel for ceasefire violation in one tweet

If you’ve been following our recent posts, you’re aware that the Guardian live blog on the Gaza War posted two entries a few hours ago that somehow managed to blame Israel for breaking the ceasefire which took effect this morning.

They made this claim despite the fact the dozens of rockets were fired at Israeli cities by Hamas since the time of the ceasefire, while Israel (who had accepted the ceasefire) held its fire for six hours until finally retaliating after it was clear that the Islamist group had no intention of standing down.  (As we noted, US Secretary of State John Kerry forcefully condemned Hamas earlier in the day for violating the terms of the agreement.)

Well, a Guardian deputy editor named Phoebe Greenwood doubled down on the Guardian claim a few hours ago, and the rhetorical somersault she employed to defend the indefensible was truly something to behold.

Here it is, along with a response (above Greenwood’s Tweet) by Yiftah Curiel, spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in London:

tweet

As one commentator suggested, Greenwood’s argument goes something like this.

  1. Israel accepted the ceasefire and held its fire for six hours, hoping Hamas would do the same.
  2. Hamas ignored the ceasefire and continued firing dozens of rockets at Israeli towns.
  3. Israel finally retaliated against Hamas rocket attacks which showed no signs of winding down.
  4. Ergo, Israel violated the ceasefire.

This is of course the time when we typically employ a rhetorical flourish, encapsulating the substance of the post in a few pithy lines.  

However, on this occasion, given the jaw-dropping nature of the logic used by Greenwood, we find ourselves for once truly speechless.

 

IDF responds to 6 hours of Hamas rocket fire, and Guardian blames Israel for breaking ceasefire!

As we noted about 30 minutes ago, the Guardian’s Live Blog pronounced that the ceasefire (which went into effect at 9:00 this morning) was ‘holding’ despite the dozens of rockets fired by Hamas since the morning, and the fact that world leaders, including US Secretary of State John Kerry, had forcefully condemned Hamas for violating the terms of the agreement.

However, roughly 20 minutes ago it was reported that the IDF had resumed military operations (after having ceased all attacks since 9AM in accordance with the agreement) in response to Hamas rocket fire, which prompted the following Guardian update:

newest

Here’s how the update is framed on their Israel page:

pic

It’s also the featured story on the blog itself, per the recently updated headline:

blog

This is simply surreal.

Dozens of Hamas rocket attacks evidently don’t count as a ceasefire violation according to the Guardian’s blog editor Matthew Weaver, but Israeli retaliation – six hours into the Hamas assault – constitutes an official end to the agreement. 

This isn’t just an obfuscation, but a complete and total fabrication. 

Mike Tyson, Toddlers, and ‘Balance’: A response to Owen Jones

Here are the first few paragraphs from a Times of Israel op-ed by Shany Mor:

There is much to learn from Owen Jones’ much retweeted Guardian post last week about the alleged “imbalance” in Israel’s favor at the BBC and, by implication, the rest of Western media and politics, but not necessarily what Jones intends.

Jones extrapolates from one solitary headline on the BBC’s website two discernible arguments. Neither argument stands up to the barest of scrutiny, but let’s start with the headline.

“Israel under renewed Hamas attack” was the “perverse” headline that the BBC ran from which Jones deduces the “macabre truth that Israeli life is deemed by the western media to be worth more than a Palestinian life.” If this were the only headline the BBC ran on the violent escalation over the past week, Jones might have a point. But it wasn’t even the only headline that day. All week, there have been from five to ten stories on the fighting. Some stories are filed from Israel and focus on the Gazan rocket attacks; some are filed from Gaza and focus on Israeli air and naval attacks; others are diplomatic stories or personal stories or focus on one particular incident which the BBC editors seem to think is interesting or noteworthy. The story Jones references was filed from Ashqelon, a city in southern Israel that absorbed a large number of rocket attacks from nearby Gaza. The day before the report, Hamas in Gaza had gone from a policy of tolerating and encouraging other militant groups in the Strip to fire rockets at Israeli civilian centers, as it had for the previous two weeks, to actively participating in these attacks itself with its much larger, more numerous, and more sophisticated rockets. Hamas had, literally, renewed its attacks on Israel after twenty months of cease-fire. This was a significant development because it meant a large Israeli military operation would inevitably follow. This is lost on Jones who picks one headline to make a sweeping and falsifiable generalization.

Two arguments can be picked out of Jones’ short post in the Guardian. The first regards what he calls the “hierarchy of death.” As far as I can tell, Jones’ postulated hierarchy is measured as a quotient of newsworthy deaths divided by the amount press coverage generated. It’s an odd claim to through around in what poses as a pro-Palestinian piece, because by any measure the Palestinians are the beneficiaries of this hierarchy of death. Let’s stipulate that we accept Jones’ claim that there is more coverage per Israeli death than per Palestinian death (though most of this is probably accountable to the much lower death toll on the Israeli side throughout the decades of conflict, something which tells us next to nothing about the moral or normative standing of either side; see below). Coverage of violence involving Palestinians far exceeds that of Iraqis, Syrians, Somalis, Congolese. Not just in the media, but throughout the western “human rights community,” the self-appointed protectors of western rectitude for whom Israeli actions that wouldn’t even count as a rounding error in the Syrian or Iraqi civil wars — or for that matter in NATO operations in Afghanistan — regularly generate hysterical cries of “war crimes” and even “slow-motion genocide.”just a stiff letter to the editor against “collective punishment.”

Read the rest of the op-ed here.

Independent demonizes Sderot residents for cheering IDF strikes on Hamas

Sderot, dubbed the bomb shelter capital of the world, is a working-class community located 2.5 km from Gaza, and has absorbed the largest percentage of the thousands of rockets fired from Gaza at Israel since 2001.  Such ubiquitous attacks have killed 13 Sderot residents, wounded dozens and profoundly disrupted daily life.

Post-traumatic stress disorder incidences among young children of Sderot, as with depression and miscarriages among the adult population, are abnormally high.

Naturally, they are not too fond of Hamas, the movement most responsible for the terror their community has suffered, and are pleased whenever the IDF attempts to reign in their rocket launching capacity.

Yet, a surreal report by Adam Winthall at the Independent on July 13th, which focuses on fifty Sderot residents who gathered to watch the conflict unfold at a lookout point northwest of the city last week, frames their pleasure at the periodic sight of Hamas terror sites being shelled as nothing short of sadistic.

Here’s the headline:

headline

Withnall begins:

An image that appears to show a group of Israelis on a hilltop cheering and applauding as they watch the deadly aerial bombardment of Gaza has caused international outrage after it was shared by thousands on Twitter.

Taken by the Middle East correspondent for a Danish newspaper, the picture shows rows of people sitting on plastic chairs looking out over the Gaza Strip as rockets and explosions light up the night sky.

Allan Sørensen, who posted the image, wrote that it showed a kind of “cinema” on the hilltop outside the Israeli town of Sderot, and a caption added: “Clapping when blasts are heard.”

Sørensen’s newspaper, the Kristeligt Dagblad, reported that the gathering involved more than 50 people who had transformed the hill into something “most closely resembling the front row of a reality war theatre”.

It said that people were seen taking popcorn up onto the hill with their chairs, and that they sat cheerfully smoking hookahs.

Then the Indy shows the Tweet by the outraged Danish journalist:

Winthall then adds a few more ‘shocking details’ about the ‘cruel’ Israelis.

“We are here to see Israel destroy Hamas,” said Eli Chone, a 22-year-old American who lives in Israel.

Sørensen’s tweet was met with anger by fellow Twitter users. One user wrote: “If this is true then God help us all. What’s become of the human race?

Where to begin?!

First, it’s quite telling that the Indy reporter doesn’t even note the rockets fired on Sderot in the months and years prior to the event he describes.  Withnall completely erases this vital context from his report.

Additionally, do Winthall and the “shocked” Norwegian journalist really not know that Palestinians often celebrate the murder of Israeli civilians as the result of terror attacks?

As you no doubt recall, there were enthusiastic street celebrations when the news broke about the attacks on 9/11.

In 2011, there were celebrations in Gaza when they learned that five Israeli civilians – including three children, one a three months old baby -were literally butchered by Palestinian terrorists in Itamar.

A Palestinian man offers sweets to a woman in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah on March 12, 2011 to celebrate an attack which killed five Israelis (Getty Images)

More recently, upon hearing of the abduction of three Israeli teens last month, some Palestinians handed out candy in the streets and posted messages lauding the incident on social media sites and in the state-run media.

University students in Birzeit University distribute sweets in celebration of the kidnapping of the three Israeli teenagers.

University students in Birzeit University distribute sweets in celebration of the kidnapping of the three Israeli teenagers.

Also, a video recently surfaced showing “hundreds of Arabs” celebrating ‘the attack on occupied Palestine’ atop the Temple Mount after hearing bomb sirens in Jerusalem on the first day of the war.

Indeed, just yesterday, according to Times of Israel, Channel 2 showed footage of Palestinian youths dancing and cheering in Gaza “minutes after a heavy rocket barrage was launched at the greater Tel Aviv area”.

So, while Palestinians have often celebrated lethal attacks on innocent Jewish civilians, Indy readers are evidently supposed to be shocked when a few dozen Sderot residents celebrate IDF attacks on a terrorist group committed to their country’s destruction? 

The UK media’s moral myopia, as with their seemingly unlimited capacity to impute malevolence to Israelis, is at times staggering.

Challenge to UK media: name an army that goes to greater lengths than the IDF to protect civilians

Writing in Jerusalem Post on Friday, Amotz-El noted that “twenty-seven years after its establishment in the wake of the first intifada, Hamas was in its worst strategic situation ever”.

Amotz-El elaborated:

[It lost Syria] its longtime ally and host – after having gambled on President Bashar Assad’s defeat in his country’s civil war. 

Down with Syria went its Iranian sponsor’s financial infusions and arms shipments to Gaza, and also the cheerleading of Hezbollah, which this week remained conspicuously quiet even as Gaza came under flames.

Having lost Syria, Hamas went on to lose Egypt.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s wrath at Hamas is fully shared by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, all of which also loathe any threat to the Arab world’s established regimes. Finally, Hamas managed to ruin its fledgling harmony with the Palestinian Authority, just weeks after its much-heralded announcement of a unity government with Fatah.

In short, Hamas has isolated itself so hermetically that it is shunned by monarchies and republics, Sunnis and Shi’ites, Iranians and Americans, and a world that now sees Hamas as part of a trouble-making Islamist international that runs from Nigeria through Iraq to western China.

Even Hamas’s last ally, Turkey, said little this week when the Israel Air Force pounded targets in Gaza

However, despite its diplomatic isolation, Hamas still knew it had one trump card to play: provoking a war with Israel which would result in Palestinian civilian casualties, thus eliciting positive media coverage from a compliant Western media.

As Jeffrey Goldberg observed in his recent column, in the context of trying to explain Hamas’s objectives in provoking a war:

Mahmoud Abbas, the sometimes moderate, often ineffectual leader of the Palestinian Authority, just asked his rivals in Hamas a question that other bewildered people are also asking: “What are you trying to achieve by sending rockets?”

Later in his op-ed, Goldberg provides an answer to Abbas:

Hamas is trying to get Israel to kill as many Palestinians as possible.

Dead Palestinians represent a crucial propaganda victory for the nihilists of Hamas. It is perverse, but true. It is also the best possible explanation for Hamas’s behavior, because Hamas has no other plausible strategic goal here.

This propaganda strategy, however, is 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 the result of Hamas’s cynical strategy of using human shields and other tactics meant to maximize the number of casualties.

To boot, the following heartbreaking photo and headline appeared in the print edition of The Independent on July 12th which highlighted the tragic case of a young Palestinian girl named Mariam Al-Masery.

indy

The Indy journalist who wrote the story, Kim Sengupta, also addressed the broader issue relating to the number of civilian deaths, and seemed incredulous in the face of IDF “claims” that the Hamas use of human shields (and related tactics) largely explains the phenomenon.

In the story’s sixteen paragraphs, only two present the Israeli side, with almost all of the remaining text providing details of the civilians’ deaths and quotes from Palestinian expressing their outrage.

Here’s one of the two paragraphs which even tries to present the Israeli side, though it immediately dismisses Israeli claims as running counter to the evidence: 

Many residents, however, maintain that missiles and bombs aimed at the homes of militants considered legitimate targets by the Israelis have also hit neighbouring family homes. This claim would run counter to repeated insistence by the Israeli authorities that the air strikes are being carried out with surgical precision to avoid collateral damage.

Of course, this is an absurd conclusion to reach, as the fact that ‘family homes’ were hit doesn’t in any way contradict IDF claims that “air strikes are being carried out with surgical precision to avoid collateral damage”. It simply means that such homes are placed in close proximity to military targets, and that the precision IDF strikes – no matter how carefully executed – obviously can’t guarantee 100% success at avoiding hitting civilian structures.  

(It’s actually quite telling that after more than 1300 Israeli strikes on terror targets thus far during the war – in the ‘densely populated’ strip – the number of Palestinians killed, combatants and non-combatants, is roughly 120. )

Of course, if the Indy journalist wanted to write a fair account of the civilian deaths, evidence abounds of Hamas culpability, whose leaders have explicitly acknowledged their human shield policy.

Additionally, the Indy journalist could have cited videos proving that Hamas places weapons caches in civilians areas, and how carefully the IDF works to attack the terror target while avoiding harming homes, schools and clinics:

Here’s another video of a precision strike:

Humanitarian tactics employed by the IDF include dropping leaflets, placing phone calls and sending text messages to Palestinians in harm’s way, and the ‘knock on the roof’ tactic (seen above).

It’s also worth noting, in the context of such reports imputing Israeli culpability in Palestinian deaths, that the Indy has thus far failed to note that almost all of the more than 800 rocket attacks on Israeli towns since the war began have been fired at civilians – each, therefore, clearly constituting a war crime.

The real story of the war – one which the UK media won’t tell – is how Hamas uses tactics which maximize the danger to their own civilians and intentionally targets all Israeli civilians, while the IDF goes to extraordinary lengths to protect both Israeli and Palestinian civilians.

On Twitter recently, we asked a source cited in a Guardian Live Blog (who had criticized as ineffective IDF tactics of warning civilians prior to an attack on a terror target) to respond to a simple question:

Name one army in the world that goes to greater lengths than the IDF to protect civilians during war.

We’re still awaiting his response.

Guardian fails to challenge NGO claim on ‘restrictions of medicines’ into Gaza (UPDATE)

Here’s an entry on July 8th from the Guardian’s Live Blog on the war between Israel and Hamas.

blog

Though the blog’s editor allows the claim made by MAP (a radical NGO whose leaders misuse their reputation as medical experts to support Palestinian political goals) to go unchallenged, the suggestion that there has been any Israeli restrictions on medicine into Gaza is flatly untrue.

Despite shortages of certain medicines in the Palestinian controlled territory, the problem, per COGAT, “emanates primarily from a dysfunctional relationship between the Palestinian Ministries of Health in Gaza and Ramallah” and has nothing whatsoever to do with Israel.

We also spoke to Yigal Palmor (spokesperson for the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs) today about the shortages in Gaza, and he told us that whatever shortages they experience are due to the “mismanagement of PA health authorities” who failed to purchase or to fund the acquisition of necessary equipment or materials.  Further, Palmor stated unequivocally that “Israel has NEVER imposed restrictions on medical shipments of any kind“.  

Additionally, Arab Israeli journalist Khaled Abu Toameh addressed this very issue in a column in January.

Here are excerpts from his article:

Palestinian patients in the Gaza Strip have become the latest victims of the ongoing power struggle between the two Palestinian governments of Fatah and Hamas.

Until recently, the two governments used to blame Israel for the shortage of various types of medicine in the Gaza Strip: spokesmen for the Hamas and Fatah governments claimed that the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip was depriving the ill of many badly needed medicines.

This week, the two rival Palestinian governments held each other — not Israel — responsible for the health crisis in the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian government in the West Bank, headed by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, announced that Hamas had been stealing or hiding most of the medicine that was sent to the Gaza Strip. Many Palestinians are believed to have died because of the lack of drugs and medical equipment.

According to the Fayyad government, Hamas militiamen have been confiscating shipments of medical supplies donated by the international communities and later offering the medical supplies for sale.

The medical supplies are sent first to the West Bank, where the Fayyad government is responsible for distributing them to Palestinians, including those living in the Gaza Strip.

Some Palestinians residents of the Gaza Strip and Western aid workers have confirmed the Fayyad government’s allegations, saying that Hamas has indeed been confiscating most of the medical supplies that are sent from the West Bank – putting the lives of many patients at risk.

Hamas, for its part, has retorted by leveling similar charges against the Fayyad government. According to Hamas spokesmen, if anyone is to blame for the severe crisis in the Gaza Strip’s hospitals and clinics it is the Fayyad government.

Hamas claims that the Fayyad government has been using the medicine to “blackmail” Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in a bid to undermine the Islamic movement’s regime.

So, to recap:

There are NO Israeli restrictions on medical supplies into Gaza, and there have evidently never been such restrictions.

Whatever shortages do exist are caused primarily by political infighting between Hamas and Fatah.

The Guardian continues to edit reports to impute guilt to Israel, and hold Palestinians blameless, regardless of the evidence.  

UPDATE: We recently received the following statement from a Defense Ministry spokesman:

Border crossings into Gaza are open but for limited use.  Kerem Shalom and Erez crossings are open for emergency medical assistance and the transfer of humanitarian aid  (i.e. televisions, appliances etc. are not being let in, but food, medicine etc. is).  Yesterday alone more than 180 trucks crossed into the Gaza Strip via the border crossings

UK journo uses subjective word ‘terrorist’ for Jews, but not for Hamas

The Independent doesn’t appear to have a permanent Israel correspondent in the region anymore, but often employs the services of a freelance journalist named Ben Lynfield, who took it upon himself to pen an op-ed at the paper on July 8th (Conflict – a weapon for Hamas in its fight for survival).

Whilst the op-ed itself – which attempts to explain the cause of the current war between Israel and Hamas – is largely unproblematic, his piece included one telling omission, an obfuscation, and an inconsistent use of the word “terrorist”.

terrorist

Here’s the omission and obfuscation:

Lynfield:

Today’s devastating Israeli strikes on Gaza and Palestinian rocket fire at Israel have their roots as a spin-off from Israeli-Palestinian confrontation in the West Bank, where Israel responded to the kidnapping of three teenagers, which it blamed on Hamas (without proof) with a military operation in which Hamas’s West Bank civilian infrastructure was targeted and hundreds of its members arrested. Six Palestinians were killed.

Though Israel didn’t release proof of Hamas’s involvement in the abduction to the media, US security officials who were given the evidence (since one of the Israeli teens had American citizenship) confirmed that there is “strong evidence that Hamas is culpable”. 

Additionally, it’s quite interesting that Lynfield failed to note that the teens were murdered, and not merely kidnapped. 

Now, for the selective use of a ‘loaded’ term:

As we’ve noted, UK news sites like the Indy almost never use the term “terrorist” when characterizing Hamas or other Palestinian groups who murder Israelis ‘in the pursuit of political aims’ – opting instead for the ‘less judgmental’ word “militant”.   And, in fact, nowhere in his op-ed does Lynfield use the word “terrorist” (or, interestingly, even “militant”) to describe ‘Hamas’, even though the Islamist group is considered a “terrorist” group by most of the West. 

However, he did make the decision to use the term in another context.

Lynfield:

Another motive [for Hamas] is that it wants to appear as defender of the Palestinian people against Israeli actions, including the murder of a teenager by terrorists in Jerusalem.

While nobody denies that the Jews who murdered Mohammed Abu Khdeir are cold-blooded terrorists, it’s interesting that Lynfield reserved that term only for Jewish killers, and not for a group which openly targets civilians for mass murder –  part of a disturbing ideological proclivity (within the UK opinion elite) to impute moral equivalence between a progressive Jewish democracy and reactionary Islamist extremists.

Guardian Gaza War blog cites ‘expert’ on…platitudes and distortions

In the early hours of Tuesday, Israel launched a military operation against Hamas, Operation Protective Edge, in response to incessant Hamas rocket fire and the terror group’s refusal to agree to a ceasefire.  Though the Guardian was relatively slow to respond to the story, at 13:45 Israeli time they finally launched a Live Blog on the war, titled ‘Israel steps up offensive against Gaza – live updates‘, edited by Matthew Weaver. 

One of the first blog entries highlighted the analysis of Chris Doyle, Director of the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding (CAABU).  (As BBC Watch has noted, CAABU is a pro-Palestinian advocacy group, and a well-established part of the Arab lobby in the UK “with no fewer than three MPs and two former MPs sitting on its executive committee“.)

Here’s a snapshot of the Guardian blog post:

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First, note Doyle’s odd understanding of Israeli history. We’re evidently supposed to believe that the Suez Crisis of 1956, the Six Day War in 1967, and Yom Kippur War in 1973 - and even the 2006 Lebanon War! - all can be fairly characterized as examples of “invading and smashing Gaza“?

Further, concerning the actual recent wars in Gaza (2008-09 and 2012), and despite Doyle’s skepticism on the efficacy of military actions, it’s quite clear that both major IDF operations resulted in a dramatic and sustained decrease in Hamas rocket attacks.

Also of note is Doyle’s strategy for solving the conflict – ‘opening up Gaza’, presumably by easing Israel’s blockade of illegal weapons – which conveniently overlaps with the demands set by Hamas, whose spokesperson earlier today said the group would not agree to a ceasefire until Israel’s blockade of Gaza ends

Though Doyle does acknowledge that Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli civilians represent a war crime, he of course fails to factor in to the political equation Hamas’s refusal to accept Israel’s existence within any borders, their antisemitic ideology, and the explicitly genocidal threats of their leaders.

The words ‘War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing’ are of course iconic song lyrics, but the sentiments they represent don’t provide Guardian readers with anything resembling a serious prescription for solving the myriad of problems caused by Islamist extremism in the Middle East.

Huffington Post UK Corrects: No ‘West Bank’ Airstrikes by IDF

Cross posted from CAMERA

CAMERA’s Israel office has prompted a Huffington Post UK correction of a headline which had incorrectly referred to airstrikes in the West Bank. In fact, while the Gaza Strip has been subjected to airstrikes following a barrage of rocket attacks from that territory into southern Israel, there have been no West Bank airstrikes.
 
Editors also promptly corrected the accompanying July 1 article by Paul Vale, which had falsely asserted that the airstrikes were in response to the murders of the three Israeli teens, Gil-Ad Shaar, Naftali Frankel and Eyal Yifrach. In fact, the airstrikes on 24 targets in the Gaza Strip were in response to the aforementioned 18 rocket attacks on Israel.
 
A screen capture of the erroneous headline and article, first noted earlier today on CAMERA’s Snapshots blog, follows:
huffpost airstrikes

CAMERA staff contacted Huffington Post editors, noting that the airstrikes in the Gaza Strip were a response to the rocket fire coming from there, not to the murder of the three teens. The Huffington Post article is itself hyperlinked to an Associated Press story, also on the Huffington Post UK site, which notes that the Israeli military said it was rocket fire from the Gaza Strip which led to the airstrikes there:

Early Tuesday, Israel carried out an especially intense series of airstrikes in Gaza, saying it had struck 34 targets across the Hamas-controlled territory. The military said the airstrikes were a response to a barrage of 18 rockets fired into Israel since late Sunday.

As a result, editors immediately corrected both the headline and text, which now appear as follows:
huffpost airstrikes corrected
CAMERA commends Huffington Post UK for its timely and forthright corrections.

Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent slammed for misleading Tweet about Iranian arms shipment

Last night the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont tweeted an article from Haaretz/Reuters about a new UN report (obtained by Reuters) on the shipment of rockets intercepted in the Red Sea by the Israeli Navy in March. 

Here’s the text of Beaumont’s Tweet:

“Despite Israeli claims, UN panel decides missiles on the seized ship Kos were for Sudan NOT Gaza

However, here’s headline to the Haaretz story by Louis Charbonneau, published earlier in the day, that Beaumont linked to:

‘UN panel: Arms ship seized by IDF came from Iran, but not bound for Gaza

First, note Beaumont’s distortion of the Haaretz headline.  Though the headline only claimed, per the article, that the UN had determined that the ship itself (carrying the arms) was heading for Sudan, Beaumont twisted it to appear as if the UN had concluded that the arms (that the ship was carrying) were destined for Sudan – and not Gaza.

Indeed, if you read the article you’d see that the UN panel didn’t even address the question concerning the final destination of the arms, and certainly didn’t conclude that they were not heading for Gaza.  The article in fact noted Sudan’s role as a conduit for arms to Gaza.

The experts do not speculate in the report about why the arms were being sent to Sudan, a country which Western diplomatic and intelligence sources have told Reuters has in the past been a conduit for Iranian arms shipments to other locations in Africa, as well as the Gaza Strip.

In fact, the article clearly states that the UN report was primarily concerned with the narrow question of whether Iran was responsible for the shipment of arms, and thus in violation of the international arms embargo.

A UN expert panel has concluded that a shipment of rockets and other weapons that was seized by Israel came from Iran and represents a violation of the UN arms embargo on Tehran, according to a confidential report obtained by Reuters on Friday.

“The Panel finds that the manner of concealment in this case is consistent with several other cases reported to the (Security Council’s Iran Sanctions) Committee and investigated by the Panel,” the experts said.

“The Panel concludes that the shipment of arms and related material found aboard the Klos C is a violation of Iran’s obligations under paragraph 5 of resolution 1747,” they added, referring to the U.N. arms embargo on Tehran.

Indeed, the IDF never claimed - at the time of the interception – that the ship itself was heading to Gaza, only that the arms on the ship were to be smuggled by land from Sudan into Gaza via the Sinai.

 

Beaumont’s tweet twisted the text of the Haaretz/Reuters article to make it appear as if the UN had ruled out Gaza as a final destination for the arms – a distortion pointed out by a few Tweeters, including Yiftah Curiel (Spokesperson of the Israel Embassy in London), Peter Lerner (IDF Spokesman), Judge Dan (blogger at Israellycool) and this writer. 

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It doesn’t appear as if Beaumont has thus far responded to any of his critics.

Update: At some point following my reply (above) to Beaumont’s misleading Tweet, he blocked my account.

Amusingly Obvious Guardian Error Watch

Not all Guardian errors are of equal significance.  Whilst we often post about ideologically driven distortions or outright fabrications, other mistakes can fairly be characterized as genuine ‘editing errors’.  So, we thought we’d have a little fun with a mistake we noticed in a Guardian report on May 28th which we’re sure you can easily spot merely by glancing at the headline, photo, photo caption and opening passage:

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Ok. Let the grauniad Schadenfreude begin….now.

UPDATE: Following our email to Guardian editors, the error was corrected.

 

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By Robert Tait’s reckoning, Palestinian unity with antisemitic extremists is a ‘boon for peace’

the Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to realize the promise of Allah, no matter how long it takes. The Prophet, Allah’s prayer and peace be upon him, says: “The hour of judgment shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, so that the Jews hide behind trees and stones, and each tree and stone will say: ‘Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him,’ except for the Gharqad tree, for it is the tree of the Jews.” (Hamas Charter, Article 7)

Imagine for a moment if Binyamin Netanyahu dismantled his current government coalition and entered into a partnership between Likud and an Israeli political party whose platform cited religious texts and conspiracy theories to incite its member to murder Muslims – a movement so extreme that their leaders have called for genocide.

Of course, there is no such Israeli political party.  But, if there were, and such a coalition was formed, you can certainly bet that UK journalists wouldn’t be characterizing such an agreement as a ‘boon for peace’.

However, that’s exactly the term used by The Telegraph’s Jerusalem correspondent Robert Tait in characterizing the recent deal between Fatah and Hamas.  His April 25th report,’Kerry reminded no peace deal can be struck without addressing Gaza, reads more like an op-ed than a straight news story, especially in the highlighted passages within the following paragraphs:

Wednesday’s reconciliation pact between Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement and the Islamist Hamas group promised to end years of in-fighting by forming a new national unity government within five weeks. Fresh elections are planned within six months to give the Palestinian political landscape a new air of legitimacy.

By normal reckoning, such heartening news would be seen as a boon to any peace process with hopes of flourishing.

What could be more conducive to resolving the century old conflict between Jews and Arabs than a united front on both sides?

Instead, the development has prompted an almost apocalyptic response from Israel, with Benjamin Netanyahu, the country’s prime minister, all but writing off the talks and ordering their suspension five days before their official expiry date on April 29.

By whose reckoning would Palestinian unity between Fatah and a designated terror group which engages in the most extreme antisemitism (and rejects Israel’s right to exist within any borders) be considered a positive step for peace?

As a US State Department spokesperson said during a press conference after the unity deal was reached:  

“But I think the Secretary [of State] and we all understand it’s hard to see how Israel can be expected to negotiate with a government that does not believe in its right to exist. And that is one of the principles that’s long been expected”.

Remarkably, Tait himself acknowledges Hamas’s rejection of Israel’s continued existence in a later passage in his report, but still blames Bibi for his “apocalyptic” response, a word, it seems, more suited to describing this speech by top Hamas leader (and group co-founder) Mahmoud Al Zahhar in 2012:

What part of Hamas’s clearly stated desire to annihilate the Jews doesn’t Robert Tait understand?

 

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