* But Western press don’t report HRW findings...
* While British, American and other newspapers rushed to blame Israel, using highly emotive language and photographs, Germany’s largest newspaper simply asks:
* Why is it claimed that the 10-year-old girl pictured was not wounded because she was swimming in the sea at the time of the explosion, yet she is “running around in dry clothing?”
* Why does “footage shows a dozen men with typical Hamas-style beards removing evidence from the site” and other media didn’t mention this?
* How come only the German press interviewed the Palestinian cameraman who took the footage, who then hinted he had been given stage directions as to what pictures to take?
* Report yesterday: “It’s final: IDF not guilty of death on Gaza beach: Physical proof exists that the seven Arab family members who died on a Gaza beach were not killed by an Israeli shell”
1. Introductory remarks
2. “We do not believe the Israelis were targeting civilians”
3. Yet more flawed reporting on Israel
4. Missing shrapnel
5. “Palestinians sometimes bend the truth”
6. Kofi Annan retracts his accusations
7. Arab media also accuse Israel
8. Dana Olmert demonstrates against Gaza beach deaths
9. “The Palestinians’ classic and cowardly human-shield tactic”
10. “The Western press falls for these scams again and again”
11. “The war of the pictures” (Sueddeutsche Zeitung, June 16, 2006)
12. “Too quick to atone” (By Gerald Steinberg, Jerusalem Post, June 18, 2006)
13. “Who is to blame for grief on a beach?” (By Charles Krauthammer, W. Post, June 16, 2006)
14. “Untold story of Gaza (and Haditha?)” (Washington Times, June 19, 2006)
[All notes below by Tom Gross]
By now, close followers of the Israeli media are probably aware that Israel has once again been unfairly targeted for blame by many in the international media for civilian deaths that it was not responsible for. But readers and viewers in the rest of the world would have had to look very closely to discover the truth, given the lack of balanced coverage and the mass of emotive reporting and distressing photos that dominated the pages of many prominent newspapers for several days last week.
The prominence given, and the rush to blame Israel, was not just startling in itself, but so too was the complete lack of coverage of other news during these days. For example, The Times of London was (as far as I could tell) alone among British papers to prominently report on the shooting deaths of at least five Iraqi civilians, including a woman and a six-year-old child, by British troops in southern Iraq on June 11. And of course the British are not trying to stem a tide of Kassam rockets raining down on their civilians, as Israel is.
(Seventy shells and rockets firedfrom Gaza fell in and around the working class Israeli town of Sderot last weekend alone, all aimed at civilians, yet barely reported on outside Israel. One Israeli journalist on this list tells me he did a search for “Sderot” on the AP photo wires and came up with just one result. Type in “Gaza” and you get 151 hits.)
The following is a partial glimpse into the unfair way the international media and community treats the Jewish state.
“WE DO NOT BELIEVE THE ISRAELIS WERE TARGETING CIVILIANS”
On June 9, 2006, television viewers around the world were informed of a tragedy on a Gaza beach. An explosion had claimed seven lives of a family out enjoying a picnic. Arab television and the western media all covered extensively a survivor of the explosion, a young girl named Huda Ghaliya, screaming for her father. A man held up a limp body to the cameras and called out: “Muslims! Look at this!” Highly emotional language, and horrifying pictures were used, of a kind rarely employed for all the countless other conflicts and tragedies, let alone accidents, around the world.
Immediately following the explosion, Israel was blamed for a “war crime” and accused of carrying out a “massacre” both by the Arabic-language media and by the mainstream western press.
European countries in particular rushed to conclusions. I cite the British press because this list and website is in English, but many other European news media were equally bad.
A SINGLE SOURCE: MARC GARLASCO
As the basis for many of their stories last week, BBC News, The Guardian, Independent, Daily Telegraph and The Times of London all cited a single “expert,” Marc Garlasco, from the New York-based group Human Rights Watch, who claimed that the Palestinians were killed by a stray Israeli shell. This conflicted with the version of events provided by an Israeli army investigation.
Yet, in recent days and all but unreported in the British and international press Marc Garlasco has now conceded that he could not contradict the Israeli army findings into the deaths of seven Palestinian civilians on a Gaza beach on June 9, 2006.
Garlasco met with the head of the Israeli army investigation, Major Meir Klifi, and praised the IDF’s professionalism in investigating the blast, which Garlasco said was most likely caused by unexploded Israeli ordnance left lying on the beach, a possibility also raised by Klifi and his team.
BRITISH COLONEL MIKE DEWAR: UNLIKELY ISRAEL TO BLAME
(Not only has Hamas planted many mines on beaches to propel any seaborne commando raid, but as Colonel Mike Dewar, a respected British military expert, pointed out, “It seems unlikely Israeli shelling was responsible. I’ve spent much time in that part of Gaza and it is littered with old munitions some dating back to the 1967 war.”)
Garlasco also commented that he was impressed with the IDF’s system of checks and balances concerning its artillery fire in the Gaza Strip and unlike Hamas, which specifically targeted civilians in its rocket attacks, he pointed out that “We do not believe the Israelis were targeting civilians.”
The Israeli investigation into the incident concluded that some of the injured Palestinians, who are incidentally being treated in Israeli hospitals, had shrapnel removed in their bodies that did not match the metal composition of Israeli artillery shells. Major Klifi said “It is possible that it occurred as a result of something [a bomb] that someone placed, in order to prevent operations by our forces.”
It should be noted that while Garlasco did backtrack from his original comments blaming Israel he has continued to call for “an independent, international investigation.”
YET MORE FLAWED REPORTING ON ISRAEL
Last week, The Independent and The Guardian both rushed to accuse Israel of a “massacre.” The Independent titled one of their numerous articles on this incident: “Revealed: the shrapnel evidence that points to Israel’s guilt.”
Chris McGreal, the notorious mideast correspondent of The Guardian, also promoted Garlasco’s comments in a lengthy account (running to over 1500 words) which included the sub-heading, “Guardian investigation casts doubt on Israeli claim that army was not to blame.”
The Daily Telegraph told its readers that the family were “killed by Israeli artillery while enjoying a beach picnic.”
The Times’ banner headline was “Babies die as artillery barrage hits families on picnic beach.” The first line of the report (which incidentally was written from Jerusalem, not Gaza) was “ISRAELI artillery fire killed a Palestinian family on a Muslim holiday.” The enormous photo of a wailing child was captioned “Children were among the casualties after an Israeli artillery shell ”
The British press enthusiastically reported that the victims’ injuries and the craters on the beach were consistent with shells dropping out the sky. As one blogger has asked in recent days “Will the British and international press now publish HRW’s change of story and reflect on what it says about Garlasco’s credibility as a professional expert?”
Not one of the many newspapers and news organizations who quoted Marc Garlasco last week as a supposedly objective and independent witness mentioned that he has a history of severely criticizing Israel, in 2004 he wrote a report titled “Razing Rafah: Mass Home Demolitions in the Gaza Strip.”
Newspapers in the U.S. are also guilty of blaming Israel for the blasts, The Washington Post titled one article, “Israeli Fire Kills 7 Beachgoers in Gaza,” and The New York Times proclaimed “Errant Shell Turns Girl Into Palestinian Icon.”
Only the Israeli media bothered to report that Hamas operatives came and moved much of the evidence following the blast.
It has also emerged that one of the Palestinian victims from the Gaza beach, being treated at Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv, was received from a hospital in Gaza with cuts all over her body. It appears that the medics in Gaza had removed all the medically reachable shrapnel, Ichilov hospital said, adding it had never before received a patient who had been the victim of an explosion who had shrapnel removed from their bodies prior to admission to Ichilov.
To date, the BBC News, The Guardian, Independent, Daily Telegraph and The Times of London have all failed to report on the recent developments to this story. It would appear that when it comes to demonizing Israel, as in the cases of Jenin and Mohammed al-Dura. they are not interested in the truth.
Melanie Phillips has commented on the flawed reporting by the western media who “rushed to damn Israel over an incident on which they not only had no reliable information but where it was obvious from the start that the Palestinians’ claims were suspect, not least because of the way they obstructed attempts to inspect the evidence.”
“PALESTINIANS SOMETIMES BEND THE TRUTH”
German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung (the largest quality daily published in Germany) was one of the few media outlets in the world to cast doubt on the pictures taken soon after the bloody incident. In an interview with Zakaria Abu Irbad, a photographer for the Ramattan News Agency and the first to arrive on the scene of the tragedy, they questioned the veracity of his pictures and note that this may be another “example of how Palestinians sometimes bend the truth.”
Among the most pertinent questions asked in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung article (translated into English and attached as the first article below) is, if Huda Ghaliya, the 10-year-old girl pictured, was not wounded because she was swimming in the sea at the time of the explosion, how is she “running around in dry clothing?”
The German newspaper also asks why the “footage shows rescue workers in green hospital uniforms and a dozen men with typical Hamas-style beards apparently removing evidence from the site Did the Hamas men remove pieces of evidence as was claimed by the Israeli media and Palestinian eyewitnesses?”
The questions continue, “If the artillery shell that killed the Ghaliya family was from the Israeli army, why don’t the Palestinians present the fragments?”
“And: Why didn’t Irbad think of calming the hysterical Huda down instead of following her for several minutes with his camera? Irbad says ‘she asked me to film her. She wanted to be seen with her dead father and wanted to show the world what criminals the Israelis are.’ Is it possible that the saddened 10-year-old Huda, who just lost seven family members, could have been giving Irbad stage directions?”
I recommend reading the article in full below.
KOFI ANNAN RETRACTS HIS ACCUSATIONS
U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, who has a track record of speaking out against Israel, no doubt to placate the bigots in his organization, had also rushed to express doubt over the Israeli army version of events. Speaking to Al-Hayat, a Saudi-owned Arabic newspaper published in London, he labeled the Israeli version of events as “strange.” Revealing that he knows next to nothing about the operational methods of Hamas and Fatah in Gaza, Annan was also quoted by reporters at U.N. headquarters saying that “To find a mine on the beach is rather odd.”
According to press reports of a phone call between Annan and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert following the Gaza beach deaths, when Olmert asked why Annan had not also called to express similar concern about the many missiles raining down on southern Israel daily, Annan replied “What missiles?”
Following a meeting with Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Danny Gillerman, Annan retracted his remarks. Will Chris McGreal, Donald McIntyre of The Independent, and BBC News now retract some of their own reports and inform their readers of Human Rights Watch’s renewed findings casting doubt that Israel was to blame?
(The last time this happened, they certainly didn’t. In February, 20 Palestinians were killed in an explosion in a Gaza refugee camp that was wrongly blamed on Israel, and now turns out to have been beyond any doubt caused by a spate of Hamas rocket attacks aimed at Israel.)
ARAB MEDIA ALSO ACCUSE ISRAEL
Palestinian television last week repeatedly broadcast doctored scenes showing file footage of Israeli naval vessels, interspersed with video of the beach victims. The Israeli army investigation also rejected the possibility that the Palestinians were hit by shells fired from a navy ship.
In the leading Saudi-owned, London-based paper al-Sharq al-Awsat, Safi Nar Kazem, writing in the opinion section following the events in Gaza, argued that the American war on terror does not concentrate on the “main terrorist country,” Israel.
DANA OLMERT DEMONSTRATES AGAINST GAZA BEACH DEATHS
Those on the far left in Israel also rushed to blame the Jewish state without any evidence. Among these was Dana Olmert, the leftwing academic daughter of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. She joined 200 activists in a protest outside the house of Israeli army chief Dan Halutz. The demonstration, which took place a day after the incident, included chants calling Halutz a “murderer” and a “war criminal” and that “the Intifada shall prevail.”
Gerald Steinberg, writing in The Jerusalem Post (article attached below), criticizes the demonstrators who “provided legitimacy to another round of anti-Israel demonization.”
“THE PALESTINIANS’ CLASSIC AND COWARDLY HUMAN-SHIELD TACTIC”
Charles Krauthammer, commenting on the Gaza beach incident in The Washington Post, asks “Who is to blame if Palestinians are setting up rocket launchers to attack Israel and placing them 400 yards from a beach crowded with Palestinian families on the Muslim Sabbath?”
He answers: “This is another example of the Palestinians’ classic and cowardly human-shield tactic attacking innocent Israeli civilians while hiding behind innocent Palestinian civilians. For Palestinian terrorists and the Palestinian governments (both Fatah and Hamas) that allow them to operate unmolested it’s a win-win: If their rockets aimed into Israeli towns kill innocent Jews, no one abroad notices and it’s another success in the terrorist war against Israel. And if Israel’s preventive and deterrent attacks on those rocket bases inadvertently kill Palestinian civilians, the iconic ‘Israeli massacre’ picture makes the front page of The New York Times, and the Palestinians win the propaganda war.”
“THE WESTERN PRESS FALLS FOR THESE SCAMS AGAIN AND AGAIN”
Mona Charen, writing in The Washington Times, cites a “glaring missing ingredient to the media coverage is what happened before Israel fired on Gaza (Israel acknowledges aiming at terrorists in a different area of Gaza that day). In the 10 months since Israel withdrew from Gaza, some 1,000 missiles have been fired at Israel from Gaza. More than 800 have hit the country.”
Charen goes on to point out that “The world press, very much including the mainstream U.S. media, tends to take the word of Palestinian spokesmen about civilian deaths, although experience should have taught them by now to be more guarded. In 2005, a 10-year-old Palestinian girl was killed by gunfire. U.N. and Palestinian officials blamed her death on Israel until it was determined a bullet fired by Palestinians shooting into the air to celebrate their pilgrimage to Mecca hit her.”
Charen concludes that “The Western press falls for these scams again and again. Their credulity betrays their partiality, and it dishonors them.”
Gary Rosenblatt, the editor of The Jewish Week, questions why “Few in the media or in seats of power seemed to note that while Israeli-inflicted casualties on civilians are unintentional, swiftly apologized for, and the result of defensive responses, the Palestinian attacks are part of a consistent and acknowledged plan to kill Jewish men, women and children. Virtually every legal system in the world distinguishes between accidental and premeditated killings, so where is the moral outrage over the Palestinians’ murderous intentions?”
For those who are still unaware of the extent to which film footage from Gaza is falsified, one should watch the “Pallywood” and other movie clips, which I have recommended before.
As David Frum, another subscriber to this email list, writes in the Canadian paper The National Post: “The makers of the film have compiled documentary footage to reveal a startling series of faked funerals, staged gun battles, and professional weeping grandmothers. They dub the Palestinian propaganda complex, ‘Pallywood,’ and ask hard questions about the readiness eagerness of much of the world media to be deceived.”
(Charles Krauthammer, Gerald Steinberg, Melanie Phillips, David Frum and Gary Rosenblatt, and Dan Gillerman are all subscribers to this list.)
I attach four articles below.
-- Tom Gross
* See also this article published since this dispatch was compiled:
“It’s Final: IDF Not Guilty of Death on Gaza Beach: Physical proof exists that the seven Arab family members who died on a Gaza beach were not killed by an Israeli shell. IDF Spokesman comes down hard on Israeli (and foreign) newsmen who spread PA fabrications.” (www.israelnn.com/news.php3?id=105806)
“NOTHING NEW ABOUT PALESTINIANS PUBLISHING FALSIFIED OR FABRICATED PICTURES”
(Translated from German)
The war of the pictures
Seven dead on the Gaza Beach: Was it Israeli artillery fire or a Palestinian landmine? An example of how Palestinians sometimes bend the truth
By Thorsten Schmitz
June 16, 2006
Last Friday, ten-year-old Huda Ghaliya woke up early in the morning even though she did not have to go school. She was excited. Final exams were over and summer vacation had just begun. Huda’s father had promised the children on Friday of last week that they would go to the beach in northern Gaza for a picnic.
According to her cousin, Huda was one of the best students in her class. She loved mathematics, biology and reading. Her favorite poem is called “Identity Card,” by Mahmoud Darwish. It is a sad poem about a homeless Palestinian and his hatred of the occupiers.
Carrying plastic tables and chairs, and baskets filled with corn on the cob and pita bread, this large family left their home in Beit Lahiya (population of 35,000), and traveled the short distance to the beach. Beit Lahiya is known for its strawberries, as well as for the fact that short-range rockets are fired from this city toward Israel.
The picnic ended in death for her father, one of his two wives, and five of his children. Around 5 PM, there was an explosion in the middle of the family. Seven people lost their lives on the beach and on their way to the hospital that Friday afternoon.
The bloody picnic made Huda Ghaliya world famous in just a few hours. For this, she has photographer Zakaria Abu Irbad to thank. In the blink of an eye, after a metal-filled device exploded, the 36-year-old photographer from Gaza City took his camera and recorded the misfortune.
A Lucrative Job
Irbad works for the Arab TV Production company, Ramattan News Agency. The agency has bureaus in the West Bank city of Ramallah and Gaza City, which is the main city in the Gaza Strip.
The largest TV networks in the world, including CNN and ABC, news agencies such as Reuters and AP, and German TV stations work together with Palestinian cameramen when it comes to news from Gaza. Pictures of the hopeless world in the Gaza Strip are first distributed by Palestinian cameraman. Working as a cameraman for the western media is a very lucrative business for the Palestinians. Some cameramen earn as much as $250 per day. Some Palestinians don’t make that much money in a half a year.
This past Friday, Irbad had professional good fortune. He was the first to arrive at the scene of the tragedy. His agency, Ramattan News Agency, sold the heart-rending footage of the hysterical and crying Huda Ghaliya to media all around the world. His pictures of Huda as she pulls her hair, beats her chest, falls over her dead father in the sand, and wanders in the sand crying appeared in Australia, India, Europe and the US.
The cause of death of the Gahliya family members was very clear to the Arab world and the Palestinian community already on Friday: Israeli artillery fire. To reinforce this assumption, the Arab TV networks inserted archived footage of Israeli soldiers firing artillery shells among the images provided by Irbad.
Following the story, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and Fatah President Abu Mazen claimed the family was killed by Israeli artillery fire. Both used the term “massacre.” In a rare display of agreement between Hamas leader Haniyeh and Abbas, they symbolically adopted Huda on Saturday. A Palestinian child who lost his father served as a witness to the adoption. (Huda’s beloved mother Hamdiyah was wounded but survived the blast). A team of US Human Rights Watch activists determined that Israeli artillery was responsible for the explosion.
Human Rights Watch carefully analyzed the scene after visiting the site and conducting interviews with eye witnesses, policemen, and physicians. It strongly suggested that Israeli artillery was responsible for this tragedy. The report of this human rights group does not take into account that the supporting evidence from the beach was examined a day after this unfortunate event enough time to remove any important evidence.
The Israeli Ministry of Defense, using initial reports from radar and satellite pictures, explained that the explosion that killed the seven Palestinians did not come from the army. Chief of Staff Dan Halutz said Israel regrets the death of the Palestinians but that does not mean “that we are responsible for the deaths.”
According to Israeli army reports which relied on film footage and physicians’ reports, but not on an on-site investigation, the Israeli army fired six artillery shells in the direction of the Gaza beach on that Friday afternoon. In accordance with reports from Halutz, five of the six shells were fired between 4:31pm and 4:48pm, approximately 250 meters north of the position of where the family was picnicking. The purpose of the artillery shelling was to stop Palestinian rocket fire.
An unmanned Israeli army drone recorded the Gaza Strip at the time of the firing. From the film, one can see civilians located 250 meters south of where five craters created by the artillery fire on the beach were visible. According to army information, the explosion on the strip of sand where the Ghaliyas were picnicking must have occurred between 4:57 PM and 5:10 PM. Prior to 4:57 PM, the army film shows a normal scene at the beach.
It is strange that the over-flight film does not show beachgoers fleeing after the artillery shells landed 250 meters away. The next pictures from army film show the ambulances as they arrive at the beach. That is at 5:15 PM. The hospital from which the ambulances arrived is five minutes from the site of the explosion.
A Possible Unexploded Shell
The Israeli army cannot determine the site of impact for the sixth artillery shell which Human Rights Watch and the Palestinian Government claim was an unexploded shell that caused the deaths of the seven family members. But the army asserts that it is “impossible” that the shell could have landed 250 meters from the site it was targeting.
As further evidence, Israel claims that there were four wounded people from the beach who received treatment in a Tel Aviv hospital. A piece of shrapnel taken from the body of one of the wounded could not have come from weapons in the Israeli arsenal.
The Israeli army does not discount the possibility that the explosion was caused by a mine planted by Palestinians to prevent Israeli marines from entering the Gaza beach.
Irbad’s footage has great significance due to the contradictions it raises. This footage generates more questions than clarifications. Segment of the original footage are so questionable that the CNN website is only showing abbreviated clips.
Irbad explained to the SZ that he learned about the explosion from the medics and followed the ambulances to the site of the blast in his own car. From the footage that Irbad took of the hysterical ten-year-old Huda, it appears as if he was a witness to the explosion. He also filmed the arrival of the emergency workers to the site which must mean that he was already on the beach. Furthermore, some of the dead and wounded were covered with blankets who did that?
Irbad explains to the SZ that Huda was not wounded because she had been swimming in the sea. But in his video, Huda is running around in dry clothing. For minutes, Irbad ran after Huda and recorded images of the dead and wounded.
Suddenly, the camera captures footage of a man next to Huda’s dead father, who was also covered by a blanket and lying motionless, standing up with a machine gun in his hand. The footage shows rescue workers in green hospital uniforms and a dozen men with typical Hamas-style beards apparently removing evidence from the site.
In any case, one has to ask why the emergency workers didn’t treat the wounded and make sure that police arrived at the site. Did the Hamas men remove pieces of evidence as was claimed by the Israeli media and Palestinian eyewitnesses?
The Cameraman’s Evasive Answers
Curiously, Irbad’s footage does not include an identifiable crater. The more Irbad was asked about this by the SZ, the more evasive he was. Was he at the site before the ambulances arrived? Who are the civilians who are cleaning the beach? Where is the armed man who suddenly got up from the ground? If the artillery shell that killed the Ghaliya family was from the Israeli army, why don’t the Palestinians present the fragments?
And: Why didn’t Irbad think of calming the hysterical Huda down instead of following her for several minutes with his camera? Irbad says “she asked me to film her. She wanted to be seen with her dead father and wanted to show the world what criminals the Israelis are.” Is it possible that the saddened ten year old Huda, who just lost seven family members, could have been giving Irbad stage directions?
There is nothing new about Palestinians publishing falsified or fabricated pictures during the Middle-East war. Since the airing of a “60 Minutes” investigative report, the term “Pallywood,” modeled after the Hollywood film industry, has been used by the media. In the report, for example, there are Palestinians from the early days of the Intifada who are carrying a dead person. One of those carrying the dead stumbles, and the supposed corpse falls to the ground and springs back onto the stretcher, lies down, and mimics a dead person.
The most recent example of this effort of the Palestinians to openly mislead the world occurred when Israel attacked three member of the Islamic Jihad last Tuesday, killing eight civilians, including two children. Shortly after the attack on the car in which the three terrorists were sitting, one can see three men on the other side remove a short-range rocket from the car.
For two days, the sentence: “Urgent: News for our clients” flashed on the Internet site of the Ramattan News Agency. As the agency fears further dissemination of the Huda video whose authenticity is called into question by many people, they assert they have exclusive rights to the footage. No one else has the right to further disseminate these pictures without their consent.
TOO QUICK TO ATONE
Too quick to atone
By Gerald Steinberg
The Jerusalem Post
June 18, 2006
The speed with which a small group of Israelis gathered on Shabbat morning to protest the tragic deaths of members of a Palestinian family in an explosion on a Gaza beach was impressive.
Without bothering to wait for verification, these worthy citizens, including Dana Olmert, the prime minister’s daughter, accepted responsibility on behalf of the IDF, chanting “murderer, murderer” opposite the Tel Aviv residence of IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz.
In this way, deliberately or by default, they also provided legitimacy to another round of anti-Israel demonization, accompanied by dramatic images of bereaved Palestinian children. Journalists and others who might be accused of double standards were covered. The Israelis were themselves protesting this brutality.
Neophyte Defense Minister Amir Peretz also seemed to accept this view. In a news briefing the night of June 10, Peretz announced an immediate end to Israeli retaliatory shelling into Gaza. This policy had constituted one of the primary countermeasures to the Palestinian missiles and rockets that have rained down on Sderot and other communities in recent months.
In a certain sense, the moral fervor of these Israelis is admirable. They claim to embody the deep Jewish tradition and commitment to morality and human rights. Setting themselves up as moral paragons in the model of the Jewish prophets, they wasted no time in condemning what they were convinced was Israeli culpability.
But there are other, less admirable reasons behind this rush to judgment, including the psychological pressure to find an easy way out. If this war is indeed Israel’s responsibility, all we have to do is change our evil ways and the conflict will end.
This is a naive response to generations of Arab violence and hatred. Instead of the complexities of defense, deterrence, dismantling terrorist groups and difficult negotiations, all that is needed for these secular messianic prophets is for Israel to apologize, withdraw and dismantle its military.
This form of “instant peace” is also patronizing to Palestinians they are not independent actors, but reduced to responding to Israeli policies. Similarly, their missile attacks and other forms of terror are not given credit as independent acts expressing the goals of a nation.
In this way, 60 years of inflexible, principled and unswerving Arab and Palestinian rejectionism are erased, leaving Israel as the only actor that counts.
Despite their appeal in some quarters, such emotional and ideological dimensions overwhelm any rational or considered responses to these violent events. Sure of the moral high ground, these few hundred Israeli neo-prophet protesters felt no need to wait until investigations produced reliable information, providing a firm basis for moral judgment.
The track record of the Palestinians in artificially promoting stories of Israeli “atrocities” should have been a warning against a rush to judgement. The widely spread Jenin “massacre” myth during April 2002, and the remaining inherent contradictions and questions regarding evidence (particularly the raw footage from France-2 TV) surrounding the alleged killing by Israel of Mohammed al-Dura in October 2000 are cases in point.
Similarly, video footage of Palestinian fake funerals (in which the body was accidentally dropped, stood up, and ran away), would suggest a more cautious approach to assigning and accepting blame.
In fact, the tragic incident on the beach that Friday afternoon shares many of the hallmarks of such events, including the speed with which New York-based Human Rights Watch supported the Palestinian version in a massive public relations campaign.
The qualifications of HRW’s “military expert,” Mark Garlasco, have never been examined independently, and his experience in the US is limited. Garlasco was among the authors of HRW’s publication, Razing Rafah, (October 2004), based on unverifiable Palestinian claims and published to justify the active involvement of HRW in the anti-Israel boycott campaigns following the Durban strategy.
Neither Garlasco nor HRW has produced a report on the origins of Palestinian missiles, again highlighting this group’s primary political bias.
In this case, Garlasco again relied on Palestinian sources and claims without questioning their accuracy. Some of the evidence he produced at the Gaza news conference was conveniently found nearby, or provided by what he refers to as the “Palestinian police explosives department.”
And there was no mention of the suspicious Palestinian activity to reshape the site of the explosion.
In contrast, the IDF, having learned something (though not enough) from the previous experiences, immediately set up a commission of enquiry and avoided premature statements (notwithstanding the minister of defense’s initial comments). The commission produced a detailed and credible preliminary report within a few days (in the case of al-Dura, this took months), showing that the condemnations of Israel were not justified by the available evidence.
We may never know what caused these tragic deaths, but the anti-Israel demonization campaign that resulted has been slowed.
For those who cling to the myth of peace via atonement, even for sins Israel did not commit, these events will not change anything. But for others there is some comfort in the improvement of the IDF’s response to such political and media assaults.
“THE PALESTINIANS PREFER VICTIMHOOD TO STATEHOOD”
Who is to blame for grief on a beach?
By Charles Krauthammer
The Washington Post
June 16, 2006
It was another one of those pictures that goes instantly around the world. A young Palestinian, wailing in wretched sorrow, grieving over her dead father, stepmother and five siblings who had been killed by an explosion on a Gaza beach. Then came the blame. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (he’s the moderate) immediately called the killings an act of Israeli “genocide” and, to dramatize the crime, legally adopted the bereaved girl.
The sensational coverage and sensational charges raise the obvious question: Why would Israel deliberately shell a peaceful family on a beach?
The Israeli government, clumsy as ever, seemed to semi-apologize by expressing regret about the deaths, implying that perhaps they had been caused by an errant Israeli shell targeting a Palestinian rocket base. But then, a few days later, an army investigation concluded that it was not Israel’s doing at all.
First, because the shrapnel taken from the victims (treated at Israeli hospitals some “genocide”) were not the ordnance used in Israeli artillery. Second, because aerial photography revealed no crater that could have been caused by Israeli artillery. And, third, because Israel could account for five of the six shells it launched at the rocket base nearby, and the missing one had been launched at least five minutes before the one that killed the family.
An expert at a local chapter of a human rights group disputes the Israeli claims. Okay. Let’s concede for the sake of argument that the question of whether it was an errant Israeli shell remains unresolved. But the obvious question not being asked is this: Who is to blame if Palestinians are setting up rocket launchers to attack Israel and placing them 400 yards from a beach crowded with Palestinian families on the Muslim Sabbath?
Answer: This is another example of the Palestinians’ classic and cowardly human-shield tactic attacking innocent Israeli civilians while hiding behind innocent Palestinian civilians. For Palestinian terrorists and the Palestinian governments (both Fatah and Hamas) that allow them to operate unmolested it’s a win-win: If their rockets aimed into Israeli towns kill innocent Jews, no one abroad notices and it’s another success in the terrorist war against Israel. And if Israel’s preventive and deterrent attacks on those rocket bases inadvertently kill Palestinian civilians, the iconic “Israeli massacre” picture makes the front page of the New York Times, and the Palestinians win the propaganda war.
But there is an even larger question not asked. Whether the rocket bases are near civilian beaches or in remote areas, why are the Gazans launching any rockets at Israel in the first place about 1,000 in the past year?
To get Israel to remove its settlers, end the occupation and let the Palestinians achieve dignity and independence? But Israel did exactly that in Gaza last year. It completely evacuated Gaza, dismantled all its military installations, removed its soldiers, destroyed all Israeli settlements and expelled all 7,000 Israeli settlers. Israel then declared the line that separates Israel from Gaza to be an international frontier. Gaza became the first independent Palestinian territory ever.
And what have the Palestinians done with this independence, this judenrein territory under the Palestinians’ control? They have used their freedom to launch rockets at civilians in nearby Israeli towns.
Why? Because the Palestinians prefer victimhood to statehood. They have demonstrated that for 60 years, beginning with their rejection of the United Nations decision to establish a Palestinian state in 1947 because it would have also created a small Jewish state next door. They declared war instead.
Half a century later, at the Camp David summit with President Bill Clinton, Israel renewed the offer of a Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem, with not a single Jewish settler remaining in Palestine, and on a contiguous territory encompassing 95 percent of the West Bank (Israel making up the other 5 percent with pieces of Israel proper).
The Palestinian answer? War again Yasser Arafat’s terror war, aka the second intifada, which killed a thousand Jews.
This embrace of victimhood, of martyrdom, of blood and suffering, is the Palestinian disease. They are offered an independent state. They are given all of Gaza. And they respond with rocket attacks into peaceful Israeli towns in pre-1967 Israel proper, mind you.
What can Israel do but try to take out those rocket bases and their crews? What would the United States do if rockets were raining into San Diego from across the border with Mexico?
Now look again at that terrible photograph and ask yourself: Who is responsible for the heart-rending grief of that poor Palestinian girl?
“THE WESTERN PRESS FALLS FOR THESE SCAMS AGAIN AND AGAIN”
Untold story of Gaza (and Haditha?)
By Mona Charen
The Washington Times
June 19, 2006
The story was everywhere and was everywhere the same. On June 9, Israel had fired a rocket onto a Gaza beach killing seven picnicking Palestinian civilians.
The New York Times carried a huge, Page One picture of a 12-year-old girl weeping as she searched for her father’s body in the sand (the photo was excerpted from video broadcast around the world). CBS News reported, “The ruling Hamas group fired a barrage of homemade rockets at Israel on Saturday, hours after calling off a truce with Israel in anger over an artillery attack that killed seven civilians in Gaza.”
The New York Times characterized it this way: “Hamas fired at least 15 Qassam rockets from Gaza into Israel on Saturday, ending a tattered 16-month truce with Israel, a day after eight Palestinians were killed on a Gaza beach, apparently by an errant Israeli shell.” CNN went even further, explaining, “Hamas’ rocket attacks were prompted by a string of Israeli attacks, including an artillery shell blast that killed at least seven Palestinians picnicking on a northern Gaza beach on Friday.”
Just another brutal attack on civilians by the Israel Defense Forces? So we are invited to conclude. But the IDF, after initially apologizing and offering assistance to the families of those killed, has now investigated and concluded the explosion was not caused by an Israeli shell. Full stop.
First, consider this elemental difference between Israel and the Palestinians: Israel apologizes and tries to make amends if its missiles go astray and kill civilians. The Palestinians, by contrast, aim at civilians and dance in the streets when they are killed.
The Israelis say the explosion on the beach may have been caused by a land mine placed there by Palestinians to thwart any Israeli assault, or possibly by unexploded ordnance from an earlier skirmish. According to the Israelis, shrapnel taken from the bodies of victims did not match Israeli shells but looked more like bomb fragments.
Another glaring missing ingredient to the media coverage is what happened before Israel fired on Gaza (Israel acknowledges aiming at terrorists in a different area of Gaza that day). In the 10 months since Israel withdrew from Gaza, some 1,000 missiles have been fired at Israel from Gaza. More than 800 have hit the country.
In May alone, more than 30 Qassam rockets were fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip. On May 21, a Qassam slammed into a classroom in Sderot it was empty as the children were at synagogue. On May 16, a Katyusha landed in a farm. On May 31, four Qassams struck Sderot (Hamas has vowed to make that town of 20,000 into a graveyard). One hit an apartment building wounding two. On April 17, a suicide bomber killed 11 and wounded more than 70 when he exploded his bombs in a Tel Aviv cafe.
The world press, very much including the mainstream U.S. media, tends to take the word of Palestinian spokesmen about civilian deaths, although experience should have taught them by now to be more guarded. In 2005, a 10-year-old Palestinian girl was killed by gunfire. U.N. and Palestinian officials blamed her death on Israel until it was determined a bullet fired by Palestinians shooting into the air to celebrate their pilgrimage to Mecca hit her.
Muhammad al-Dura, the 12-year-old Palestinian boy supposedly shot by Israelis has become a worldwide symbol of Israeli brutality, though it has since been firmly established Israelis could not and did not kill him.
And, of course, the “Jenin Massacre” proclaimed by Palestinians high and low (5,000 innocents were slaughtered, they claimed) and condemned by the United Nations, turned out to be a complete lie (only 52 were killed, along with 23 Israeli soldiers who went house to house to avoid civilian casualties).
After the Gaza incident, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert spoke by phone with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, who demanded an explanation for the Gaza deaths. When Mr. Olmert asked why Mr. Annan had not shown similar concern about the scores of missiles hitting Israel, Mr. Annan was nonplussed. “What missiles?” he asked.
Two weeks ago, I was critical of those who leaped to conclusions about what happened at Haditha. It now looks as though news from Haditha may have been manipulated just as news from the Palestinian territories routinely is.
The Western press falls for these scams again and again. Their credulity betrays their partiality, and it dishonors them.