CiF Watch prompts correction to Telegraph claim about Unit 8200 letter

Unlike the Guardian, the Telegraph’s coverage of one protest letter by 43 Israelis – threatening that they’d no longer serve in the IDF’s 8200 intelligence unit due to their opposition to “Israel’s military occupation over the territories” – hasn’t been at all obsessive. In fact, they’ve only published one story on the row to date – an AFP piece titled ‘Elite Israeli soldiers refuse to fight against Palestinians‘, Sept. 12th.

However, the report did contain a clear error, in a passage suggesting that the Israeli soldiers complained, in their letter, of “targeted assassinations”.

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CiF Watch prompts correction to erroneous Times of London headline

On Aug. 5th, the Times of London published an article (pay wall) titled ‘Refugee camp hit as Israel admits it broke truce’.

headline times of london

However, the article didn’t include any information even suggesting that Israel had “admitted” breaking the truce.  Indeed, news sites reported that the time of the attack (aimed at a senior Hamas operative) was clearly in dispute.

After several complaints to Times editors, they agreed to revise the headline.

revisedThe print edition ran this correction:

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We commend Times editors for their positive response to our complaint.

Guardian pretends they’re not sure whether Israel or Hamas violated ceasefire

On Monday, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators agreed to extend a temporary ceasefire in Gaza by 24 hours so they could continue to conduct more talks on a long-term truce. The five-day ceasefire was set to expire at midnight Israeli time.

On Tuesday, at roughly 15:45 Israeli time (less than 16 hours into the 24 hour extension), terrorists in Gaza violated the ceasefire when they fired three rockets at Israel, causing large explosions near Beersheva. (This represents the eleventh cease-fire that Hamas either violated or rejected since the war began.)

Forty-five minutes later, at 16:30, there were reports of further Gaza rocket attacks on Ashdod and Ashkelon.

At 16:34, the IDF began retaliating in response to the Palestinian rocket barrage.

The timeline is not in dispute, as US officials made clear last night.

However, here’s the Guardian misinformation that we were all anticipating:

Print edition headline and strap line:

printHere’s the online edition:

onlineHere are the relevant opening passages:

Israeli negotiators withdrew from peace talks in Cairo aimed at forging a durable ceasefire in the six-week war in Gaza on Tuesday night as rocket fire and air strikes resumed hours before the latest truce was due to expire.

Israel accused Hamas of violating the latest of a series of temporary ceasefires after rockets were launched from Gaza, triggering a swift military and political response

Israeli officials said 10 rockets were fired from Gaza, the first of which were launched about eight hours before the truce was due to end at midnight

Then, we learn what the head of the Palestinian negotiating team claimed:

Palestinian negotiators blamed the collapse of the Gaza ceasefire on Israel’s failure to take Cairo-based negotiations seriously. Azzam al-Ahmad, the head of the Palestinian delegation, claimed that Israel had always intended to break the truce, and had used the firing of three rockets from Gaza on Tuesday afternoon as an excuse for an already-made decision to sabotage the talks.

So, according to Al-Ahmad, Hamas may have technically violated the ceasefire, but the rocket attacks from Gaza were cynically exploited by Israel, who had already made the decision to “sabotage the talks”.

Then, we learn what Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri claimed about the ceasefire.

The Hamas spokesman in Gaza, Sami Abu Zuhri, denied knowledge of the rocket fire which Israel said had breached the truce.We don’t have any information about firing rockets from Gaza. The Israeli raids are intended to sabotage the negotiations in Cairo,” he told reporters. 

Whilst the Palestinian lead negotiator tacitly admitted that his side violated the ceasefire, all the official Hamas spokesman could muster was a denial of ‘knowledge’ concerning Palestinian rocket fire.

So, despite the timeline of events clearly indicating that Hamas violated the ceasefire, and one implicit acknowledgement by a Hamas negotiator that they indeed broke the ceasefire, the Guardian still isn’t willing to blame the Islamist terror group.

Guardian obfuscation at its finest. 

Did Hamas and Sky News cynically exploit a paralyzed Palestinian girl?

Cross posted from Barry’s Shaw’s blog, The View from Israel

The foreign media in Gaza have been accused of biased reporting, often bordering on the cynical and, sometimes, even cowardly.

Faced with the fear of what might happen to them, many abandoned any presence of journalistic ethics and simply regurgitated whatever Hamas gave them, or whatever they saw from their restricted vision, often ignoring, of course, the rocket fire coming from outside their hotel windows .

However, what’s infinitely worse is a media outlet like Sky News which, from the safe distance of their London studio, still puts out emotional Hamas propaganda while taking gratuitous swipes at Israel.

This occurred on August 10the when they repeatedly broadcast a segment on a seven-year old Palestinian girl who reportedly had been paralyzed in an Israeli air strike.

The girl is heard saying “We were sitting at home when we heard a noise. So we went down the stairs.”  What noise was this? Could it have been the “Knock on the roof” pre-strike warning that this house had been cited as a terror target by the IDF intelligence? What’s this girl’s family name? Is it among the names of leading Hamas terrorists? This was partially confirmed by the girl known as Mata when she said “Me and my mother were injured, and we knew if we stayed like this we would die. But my mother stayed at home and she died.” Did her mother knowingly act as a human shield (or sacrifice) for Hamas?  We don’t know. The reporter didn’t ask or investigate this.

The report stressed that there are only three hospitals worldwide capable of treating anyone in her condition, a claim which seemed quite dubious, as there are numerous Israeli hospitals of international reputation that regularly treat Palestinians with such injuries.

The Sky News report suggested that Matya was being prevented from leaving Gaza by Israel. 

But, this is simply not true! 

COGAT top representative, Guy Inbar, told me that a request from Gaza had been made and accepted by COGAT on the same day, July 26, and that final details had been requested by COGAT to prepare her exit.

Nothing more was heard from the other side.

It certainly appears that Hamas has cynically played a propaganda game for weeks over this little girl. They invited members of the press into Shifa Hospital to hear her story, rather than expedite her release for treatment.

There is an excellent fully staffed field hospital set up by the IDF on the Gaza border ready to received patients from Gaza. Only problem is that Hamas physically threatens and prevents people from getting to this facility. This also was not mentioned by Sky.

The IDF Spokesman, Peter Lerner, tweeted Sky News offering to give them information but he apparently failed to get a response. Neither did I when I emailed Sky News a list of questions on this incident and their coverage.

It is still far from certain that a Sky reporter ever met or spoke to the girl. Were they there at the Gaza hospital, did they question, did they ask for Israeli response, or did they simply put out the story as presented to them by Hamas?

My sources in the IDF and with COGAT were never contacted by Sky News concerning this incident.

COGAT was, however, later contacted by Palestinian health officials and they are coordinating with them (and also with the World Health Organization) to have the girl removed from Gaza as soon as a new request is received together with all the relevant documents and information.  She will be removed first to Jerusalem and then on to a hospital where she can receive the best of care.

Moreover, COGAT has facilitated every request received by people needing to leave Gaza for serious medical cases, one hundred and fifty in number, throughout this current Gaza conflict.

As for Sky News, I have yet to receive a response to my numerous complaints. 

 

Barry Shaw is the Special Consultant on Delegitimization Issues to the Strategic Dialogue Center at Netanya Academic College.  He is also the author of ‘ISRAEL RECLAIMING THE NARRATIVE.’ 

UK media headline fail: Telegraph’s five comically misleading words

Here’s an Aug. 3rd headline (left column) from the international news section of the British paper, The Telegraph, accompanying an article by their Jerusalem correspondent Robert Tait which is quite possibly the most misleading headline we’ve come across during the war.

telegraph

However, the online version of the article (which was accompanied by a different headline) demonstrates the print headline is especially misleading, as the article actually revolves around an announcement by Israel that the army had begun staging “its first withdrawal” from Gaza, after the IDF had nearly reached its goal of destroying Hamas’s terror tunnels.

The print headline was presumably based on a solitary passage in the over 800 word article in which the Israeli Prime Minister reportedly vowed that continuing Hamas rocket fire would be met with further Israeli strikes:

the Israeli prime minister said “all options” remained on the table and threatened to make Hamas “pay an intolerable price” if it continued firing rockets into Israel.

Of course, an accurate headline might have read:

Israel announces withdrawal from Gaza.

But, why should Telegraph editors be bothered with such messy journalistic principles as accuracy, fairness, and context when they can instead continue feeding their readers the desired UK media narrative about the conflict?

 

The truth about Gaza’s civilian casualties: Essay by Col. Richard Kemp

This essay was written by Col. Richard Kemp, and originally published at Gatestone Institute.

“So are you going after innocent civilians or is it incompetence Colonel Lerner?” asks the interviewer, her face contorted with a contempt apparently reserved only for Israelis. Such shrill disrespect hurled at an American or British officer would alienate viewers, and, at an Arab commander, provoke accusations of racism.

This line of questioning – repeated across the networks on a daily basis – betrays a naïve and uncomprehending willingness to believe, and encourages viewers to believe, the absurd notion that the Israel Defence Force [IDF] is commanded and manned from top to bottom by psychopathic baby-killing thugs.

To suggest that military incompetence is the only explanation for civilian deaths other than deliberate mass murder reveals a breathtaking but unsurprising ignorance of the realities of combat.

Although rarely allowed to complete so much as a single sentence, Israeli attempts to explain IDF targeting policies are inevitably dismissed as laughable fabrication.

The truth is very different. The IDF has developed the most comprehensive and sophisticated measures to minimize civilian casualties during attacks against legitimate military targets.

Mandatory, multi-sensor intelligence and surveillance systems to confirm the presence or absence of civilians precede attacks on every target from the air. Text messages, phone calls and radio messages in Arabic warn occupants to leave. Air-dropped leaflets include maps showing safe areas. When warnings go unheeded, aircraft drop non-lethal explosives to warn that an attack is imminent.

Only when pilots and air controllers are sure that civilians are clear of the target will authorization be given to attack. When pilots use laser-guided munitions they must have pre-designated safe areas to which to divert the missiles in flight should civilians suddenly appear.

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In the last few days IDF pilots have aborted many missions because civilians remained in the target area.

Ground forces have equivalent engagement procedures, although the nature of ground combat means that these are blunter and less sophisticated. Discussions with IDF infantrymen fresh from the fight on the Gaza border confirm, however, that avoiding civilian casualties is uppermost in their minds even when under fire themselves.

Meanwhile back in the safety of the studio, the interviewer’s visible fury at the IDF Spokesman has got the better of any professional objectivity: “You go on endlessly about all the warnings you give but the fact is you have killed one-and-a-half thousand people, the overwhelming majority of them civilians!”

But of course the colonel is not permitted to give a proper answer that might help viewers understand the reality of the situation.

With few exceptions, reporters, commentators and analysts unquestioningly accept the casualty statistics given by Gaza’s Hamas-controlled medical authorities, who ascribe all deaths to the IDF. Is anyone in Gaza dying of natural causes? Mass executions of “collaborators,” and civilians killed by malfunctioning Hamas rockets, are all attributed to IDF fire.

Are the “overwhelming majority” of the dead really civilians? It would seem so. We see a great deal of grotesque and heart-rending footage of dead and bleeding women and children but never so much as a glimpse of killed or wounded fighters. Nor do reporters question or comment on the complete absence of Gazan military casualties, an extraordinary phenomenon unique to this conflict. The reality of course is that Hamas make great efforts to segregate their military casualties to preserve the fiction that Israel is killing civilians only. There are also increasing indications that Hamas, through direct force or threat, are preventing journalists from filming their fighters, whether dead or alive.

We will not get to the truth until the battle is over. But we know now that Hamas have ordered their people to report all deaths as innocent civilians. We know too that Hamas has a track record of lying about casualties. After Operation Cast Lead, the 2008-09 fighting in Gaza, the IDF estimated that of 1,166 Palestinian deaths, 709 were fighters. Hamas – backed by several NGOs – claimed that only 49 of its fighters had been killed, the rest were innocent civilians. Much later they were forced to admit that the IDF had been right all along and between 600 and 700 of the casualties had in fact been fighters. But the short-memoried media are incapable of factoring this in before broadcasting their ill-founded and inflammatory assertions.

Analysis of casualty details released by Qatar-based Al Jazeera indicate that so far in the conflict most of those killed in Gaza have been young men of fighting age, not women, children or old people. According to one analyst, despite comprising around 50% of the population, the proportion of women among the dead is 21%.

Preliminary analysis by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center in Israel suggests that 71, or 46.7%, of the first 152 Palestinians killed were fighters and 81, or 53.3%, non-involved civilians.

None of this analysis is definitive. But it does cast doubt upon the accusations of indiscriminate attack against the population by the IDF and upon the UN estimates – widely trumpeted as fact by the media and the not-exactly unbiased United Nations – that between 70 and 80% of Palestinian casualties have been civilians.

Nevertheless, many innocent civilians have tragically been killed. How has this happened, given the IDF’s measures aimed at minimizing such deaths?

IDF commanders say they never intentionally fire at targets where uninvolved civilians are present, a policy that goes much further than the Geneva Conventions demand. This policy has been confirmed to me by foot soldiers on the ground and F16 pilots carrying out strikes into Gaza.

But mistakes happen. Surveillance and intelligence can never be foolproof. There have been reports of Hamas forcing civilians back in once buildings have been evacuated. There is sometimes unexpected fallout from attacks, for example when an adjacent building containing civilians collapses, often caused by secondary explosions resulting from Hamas’s own munitions.

Errors can be made in interpretation of imagery, passage of information and inputting of target data. We don’t yet know what happened to the four boys tragically killed on a Gaza beach; it is not credible that they were identified as children and then deliberately killed.

Weapons guidance systems sometimes malfunction and bombs, bullets or missiles can land where they are not supposed to. Even the most hi-tech communications systems can fail at the critical moment.

Nowhere are these errors more frequent and catastrophic than in ground combat, where commanders and soldiers experience chaos, noise, smoke, fear, exhaustion, danger, shock, maiming, death and destruction that are beyond the comprehension of our interviewer in her air conditioned TV studio.

These mistakes and malfunctions happen in all fighting armies and in all conflicts. And in all conflicts, mistakes include the deaths of soldiers by friendly fire. Do those who condemn the killing of Palestinian civilians as deliberate acts by the IDF suggest that the friendly fire incidents in Gaza are also intentional?

The Israeli policy of not attacking targets where civilians are present is likely however to be deliberately waived in one specific situation. If troops are under lethal fire from an enemy position, the IDF are entitled to attack the target even with the certainty that civilians will be killed, subject to the usual rules of proportionality.

By definition Israeli soldiers’ lives are placed at greater risk by restrictive rules of engagement intended to minimize civilian casualties. But commanders in the field must balance their concern for civilians with the preservation of their own men’s lives and fighting effectiveness.

These realities aside, all Palestinian civilian casualties in this conflict result ultimately from Gaza terrorists’ aggression against Israel, and Hamas’s use of human shields – the most important plank of Hamas’s war-fighting policy.

Storing and firing weapons within densely populated areas, compelling civilians to stay put when warned to leave, luring Israeli forces to attack and kill their own people, the Palestinian body count is vital to Hamas’s propaganda war that aims to bring international pressure on Israel and incite anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic hatred around the world.

This sickening exploitation of their own people’s suffering, and media’s complicity in it, is nowhere more cynically demonstrated than in the operating theaters of the Gaza Strip. Without the slightest regard for life-saving hygiene, or for the care, privacy or dignity of the wounded, Palestinian officials enthusiastically hustle camera crews in to the emergency room as desperate surgeons battle for a bleeding and broken child’s life.

Colonel Richard Kemp spent most his 30-year career in the British Army commanding front-line troops in fighting terrorism and insurgency in hotspots including Iraq, the Balkans, South Asia and Northern Ireland. He was Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan in 2003. From 2002 – 2006 he heading the international terrorism team at the Joint Intelligence Committee of the British Prime Minister’s Office.

Robert Fisk is worried about terror threat posed by ‘radicalized British Zionists’

 An article in the Independent on June 22nd reported that “hundreds of veteran fighters from Syria and Iraq are already back in Britain, among them radicalized jihadists intent on mounting terror attacks”.  In a speech last October, MI5 director-general Andrew Parker said: “A growing proportion of our casework now has some link to Syria, mostly concerning individuals from the UK who have traveled to fight there or who aspire to do so.” Even more troubling, according to the Financial Times “more than half of MI5’s anti-terror investigations involve Britons who have travelled to fight in Syria“.

While it’s well-known that the 7/7 London bombers trained in jihadist camps in Pakistan, and that the main suspect in the murder of Lee Rigby attempted to train with a group linked to al-Qaeda, the threat posted by radicalized European Islamists was illustrated more recently when it was reported that the terrorist who murdered four at the Brussels Jewish Museum spent over a year in Syria training with “jihadist terrorist groups”.

Nonetheless, despite such incidents, the threat which seems to keep Robert Fisk up at night is one of fairness – the question of whether British security agencies are equally keeping an eye on a potentially radicalized group of another religious tradition.

In a truly risible column at the Indy on July 28th titled “It’s not just radicalised Islamists – what about foreign fighters who flock to the IDF?”, Fisk writes the following:

Now I think it’s a good idea that the lads in blue are keeping their eyes open at Heathrow for British citizens who’ve been fighting in the Middle East. I hope they are doing a thorough job of it – and I mean thorough. I don’t want to bump into a chap who’s been firing missiles at Christian families in Syria. But on the other hand, I also don’t want to bump into a chap who’s been firing tank shells into the homes of Palestinians in Gaza.

it would be very interesting to know if the British government is taking as close an interest as it should in any UK citizens – even if they have any other passports – who have been fighting in Israeli uniform in Gaza in the past couple of weeks.

First, can Fisk cite even one example in the history of Israel of a foreign-born IDF soldier who returned to his former country (be it the UK, US, France, Australia or anywhere else) and committed an act of terrorism?

Moreover, while we don’t have inside information into the workings of that nation’s intelligence agencies, our humble guess is that citizens in the UK can relax, and be confident that there is no intel suggesting that ‘radicalized Zionists’ in neighborhoods like Hendon, Stamford Hill and Golders Green are even conceiving of (yet alone plotting) terror attacks on British soil.

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)

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(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)

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The Times

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

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Telegraph, July 24

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Telegraph, July 24

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 Daily Mail, July 24

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Daily Mirror, July 24

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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. 

BREAKING: Video suggests IDF mortars did NOT play role in Beit Hanoun killing

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 Beit Hanoun – an assault that both Hamas and Israel claim might well be the fault of the other.  The Guardian, Independent, and even The Times immediately blamed Israel hours after the incident, despite the dearth of evidence, and prior to the IDF’s investigation.

Within the last hour, the IDF released the following statement:

Since Thursday, July 24, 2014, the IDF has conducted a comprehensive inquiry regarding the incident in which the UNRWA school was fired upon. The inquiry concluded that during the intense fighting between IDF forces and Hamas militants, the militants operated adjacent to the UNRWA school. The militants fired anti-tank missiles at IDFsoldiers, who then responded by firing several mortars in their direction.

The inquiry and the documented footage presented here concluded that a single errant mortar landed in the courtyard of the UNRWA school, when it was completely empty.

The IDF stresses it does not operate or target international organizations in the Gaza Strip, and the ongoing coordination conducted via the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) is continuous without change, even during times of combat.

In light of the inquiry’s findings, the IDF rejects the claims that were made by various officials immediately following the incident, that people were killed in the school premises as a result of IDF operational activity.

Here’s the video they released: 

We’ll have more on the media ramifications of this developing story tomorrow. 

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.

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The Guardian being, well, the Guardian:

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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):

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The Independent:

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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).

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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.  

 

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.”