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.
- Though it’s unclear why the UN didn’t facilitate the evacuation, additional statements by the IDF indicate that Hamas prevented Palestinians from evacuating the school.
- 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.)
Now, for the others:
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.
The Guardian being, well, the Guardian:
Times (of London):
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).
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.
- IDF Calls Out UN for Lying About Gaza Civilian Casualties (freebeacon.com)
- Hamas Fires from Populated Area, Prevents Civilian Evacuation (idfblog.com)
- IDF: Hamas Prevented Civilians From Evacuating UNRWA Shelter in Gaza (algemeiner.com)
- Israel and Hamas blame each other for attack on UN shelter (timesofisrael.com)