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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday Updates (Added at Top) on Israel-Gaza Tragedy

10:35 David Grossman, famed Israeli writer,  op-ed at NYT just up.
"Since I cannot ask Hamas, nor do I purport to understand its way of thinking, I ask the leaders of my own country, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his predecessors: How could you have wasted the years since the last conflict without initiating dialogue, without even making the slightest gesture toward dialogue with Hamas, without attempting to change our explosive reality? Why, for these past few years, has Israel avoided judicious negotiations with the moderate and more conversable sectors of the Palestinian people — an act that could also have served to pressure Hamas?"

9:00 Will surprise no one that when NYT tonight reports on Israel's claim it killed no one the school--it's the same old refusal to take on the absurd IDF claims head-on.  You'd never know that Israel lied to them for three days that none of their bombs even hit the school.  It's as if the reporters say, "More propaganda, please."   As from the beginning, they ultimately rely on "different versions can't be reconciled now"--even though all evidence and testimony point to Israel being guilty of this slaughter.  It's a false "balance."

They give their point of view away by not even referring to Israel completely changing its story after three days.  That's more revealing than the totally unverified 10-second video. Most of those who have gone to the site, such as Peter Beaumont of The Guardian, have all pointed their finger at Israel as no doubt the guilty party.  Another one here. Not the Times.

And see the IDF spokesman's "scenario" (below) that maybe the hundreds of wounded and dead were not hit there but brought to the site from elsewhere. Note the Times now dutifully adding 16 "reportedly killed" at the school.   This is the same Israeli official the NYT  reporters give the benefit of the doubt to re: the grainy video with no time stamp.  See my earlier report on the shameful NYT coverage on this (as with much else on the conflict).

6:15  AP now reports on Israel claiming it fired at UN school and hit courtyard--but miraculously no one killed.  Like CNN, below, it reports the laughable claims at too great length but does hint at end the absurdity of the claim.  How evil is the Israel spokesman? He suggests that the only dead and injured there were brought from other sites, perhaps for a photo op?  "He also offered other scenarios — that the wounded were 'brought to the compound after injury' or were caught in a crossfire between Israeli troops and Gaza militants. Saed al-Saoudi, the commander of the Civil Defense in Gaza, said Sunday that 'all the testimonies of the wounded, witnesses, paramedics and doctors confirm that the Israeli shells are the cause of this massacre.'"

CNN questions--eventually--Israel's claim today (see full analysis below)  that it only fired one round at the UN school and did not cause any of the 16 deaths.  But it focuses on whether people might have died in the courtyard from that round--instead of also noting that up to half a dozen rounds hit the school away from the courtyard which Israel wants you to believe must have come from Hamas.  

1 p.m. ET  Transcript of predictably weak "Meet the Press"  David Gregory interview with Netanyahu today.  The Israeli leader still claims maybe Hamas rockets wrecking that UN school (see below).  He avows Israel not targeted "a single civilian" and anyway there are "plenty of places" they can flee to. This is standard stuff.

But Gregory then commits one of the worst journalistic ethical lapses of recent weeks.  After letting Netanyahu claim, again, that Israel may be blameless in the school massacre, he brings on UNWRA spokesman Chris Gunness--and blindsides him by showing a tape just released within the hour by Israel allegedly showing a Hamas rocket being fired from the grounds of a UN school.  Yet Gregory says NBC has not "verified" that it's accurate--and admits that Gunness cannot view it and has never seen it.  Yet asks Gunness to respond!  Gunness naturally protests the unfairness--and then the segment quickly ends.

UPDATE  Gregory has now issued this statement:  “An end note in a discussion about Gaza we asked a spokesman about this video which Israel claims showed rockets being fired by Hamas from a U.N. school in Gaza,” Gregory said. “This is shot by the Israeli government, and that’s their claim. The U.N. has reviewed it, tells us they have confirmed, in their view, the video does not show rockets being fired from U.N. administrative school in Gaza. So this is a back and forth we are not able to settle at this point.”   No apology or recognition of his severe ethical lapse.

In perhaps the most revolting official Israel statement of the war, the IDF announced today that after a probe it admitted it had fired deliberately mortars at the UN school in Beit Hanoun where 15 were killed Thursday and over 100 injured.  This after claiming  (which the NYT and other media in U.S. swallowed eagerly) that quite possibly it was a misfired Hamas rocket.  But the IDF adds:  When they hit the school yard there was no one there!  And so Hamas and average citizens must have lied about the casualties from that, I guess.

Or more likely:  Israel knows that any media, UN or independent probe--once it's safe to visit the school site if shelling ever stops in area--will find evidence of Israeli missile or bombs.  In fact,  some of the journos who have gotten to the site have already suggested that.  So they can no longer lie and say they did not hit the school at all.  But, hey presto:  They can claim one single round did hit the playground--when it was empty!  Even though there were 1000 there at the time awaiting evacuation.  Meaning that it was also shelled, I guess, at the same time, by Hamas, which somehow misfired about five rockets that made direct hits killing everyone.  And if you believe that--and the NYT and others probably will, wait for it--I have a bridge to nowhere I'd like to sell you.

So will NYT and other U.S. media now admit they erred in publishing Israel propaganda denying it targeted school? My earlier report.

10:00 a.m. ET Israel's main talking point for continuing its brutal assault on Gaza involves "the tunnels"--but have any U.S. media done an indie probe of actual threat from them? We've seen NYT guided IDF tours and repeated claims of how many are found and destroyed but what is the real danger from them?  All that is cited are a handful of incidents, some from years ago, of "militants" sneaking in and killing or capturing a few Israelis.  I don't doubt that butyou'd think if they were that extensive and well-used that there would have been weekly, and bigger, Hamas entries.  Maybe I'm wrong about that but the point is--no one in the media is explaining this adequately.  More than any other aspect of the war, the IDF is the sole source.

Finally, what is the connection between "destroying tunnels" and targeting hundreds of buildings many miles from the border?  Israel claims tunnels run beneath buildings--but as far away as Gaza City and further south?  Yet media reports rarely raise this.  We know there are tunnels that stretch for a long way in the other direction, towards Egypt, but how far do the Israel-bound tunnels stretch? And why haven't they caused more deadly mischief in the past?

New Gallup poll finds women, people under 50, Democrats and non-whites all firmly against Israel's actions in this war.  Yet few if any members of Congress, that I've seen, and few in U.S. media reflect this.

Over a million around the world--including Tel Aviv--took to streets yesterday to protest Israel's actions.

Wast Post reveals in passing this factoid: One of the 3 Israeli civilians so far was a Thai worker.  Another was a Bedouin, who are not even recognized by Israelis with full rights.  That means exactly one actual full Israeli civilian (a settler) has been killed.  

Hamas this morning backtracks and announces ceasefire, saying it did so at urging of U.N.   No response from Israel so far.

Haaretz: 2 young Palestinian badly beaten by Israeli mob, then police don't call ambulance.

Wash Post, with straight face, in reviewing current state of war and compares to past conflict, states, "In Lebanon, too, casualties on both sides were high."  Yes puts on equal plain the 45 Israeli dead (military and civilian) and a few dozen injured and the 1045 Palestinian dead and 5700 injured.  The story does reveal this factoid:  one of the 3 Israeli civilians was a Thai worker.  Another was a Bedouin, who are not even recognized as Israelis with full rights.  That means exactly one actual full Israeli civilian (a settler) has been killed. 

I reported earlier on the soon-to-be-famous tweets by Jon Donnison of the BBC reporting that Israel police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld had just told him that contrary to the claims that helped provoke this war Israel did not believe that Hamas had the three Israeli teens killed back in June.  Instead they now believed that it was a local "cell" that Hamas did not direct.  Well.  This was such a blockbuster that many held a wait and see attitude, since Donnison did not quickly produce a segment on it.  But Donnison last night tweeted, "For those asking, I stick by 100% tweets regarding comments made to me by Israeli police spokes Mickey Rosenfeld. He said it. Period....And what's more I suspect what he said is common knowledge in Israeli intelligence circles."

NYT late Saturday finally changed headline on story it posted this morning-- which declared, "Gazans and Israelis Tally Damage."   I pointed out here (see below) and via Twitter that the story did not, or could not, point to a single example of Israel damage (beyond it reputation and moral standing, perhaps).  Instead, it had Israelis going to the beach ("It's fun"), holding bar-b-qs and visiting soldiers.  Perhaps feeling shame, the paper has finally changed the headline.  It also added  reference to 21 Gazans in one family killed by Israeli shelling last night--but as always reporter allows Israel flack to claim it must have been because of Hamas fire from nearby.  



Mike said...

Is it really appropriate to call this a "war"? That implies there are two warring sides, when the reality is that Israeli soldiers are collectively punishing the entire population of the Gaza Strip, not just Hamas and other militants.

Perhaps a more appropriate term would be "massacre," "slaughter," "pogram," etc. But not "war."

Unknown said...

The rockets flying into Israel? Care to comment on that? And how the hell do you target just Hamas when they're hiding among the civilian population?
If Israel wanted collective punishment, this would have been over last week and Gaza would be a flat piece of property. How many more phone calls and flyers does Israel have to make and drop to warn the civilians that they're going to attack that specific area? And by the way, HAMAS CALLS IT A WAR.

Mike said...


The rockets are a reaction to the fact that the Gaza Strip has been under siege by Israel for more than 7 years. The siege has left Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in extreme poverty and misery, and so they react by firing rockets.

Moreover, they're mostly ineffective. And even if they were effective, it certainly would not provide Israel with the grounds to commit regular war crimes, such as killing entire families in homes, targeting journalists, ambulances, mosques, UN compounds, etc. International humanitarian law requires Israel to act proportionately, but it has not done that and instead committed war crimes.

How can you deny that Israel is collectively punishing the Palestinians? Israel has reduced entire streets and homes to rubble. According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, 80% of the Palestinians killed in this recent conflict have been civilians. How is that not collective punishment?

As for the "hiding among the civilian population," do you realize that the BBC, UN, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and other organizations have said Gaza is not using human shields?

All of your talking points are just Israeli propaganda that have been thoroughly debunked. I recommend you read this article:


Mike said...

That should have been "the BBC, UN, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and other organizations have said Hamas is not using human shields".

Also FYI, Israeli generals themselves have said that what they are doing is collective punishment. It is known as the Dahiya Doctrine, and was articulated when Israel was attacking Lebanon in 2006. As stated by Israeli Major General Gadi Eizenkot:

"What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on. […] We will apply disproportionate force on it and cause great damage and destruction there. From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages, they are military bases."

So are we to take your word above the word of the very Israeli military planners who are responsible for Israeli military actions?

Ernesto said...

The interesting non-denial by the IDF is that it admits targeting the school, but it was only "in the yard and with nobody around". Now, it even has a video, which means, the assess the success of the operation. Are we to believe that the 'success' was to make a whole in the outside yard?

D. Ghirlandaio said...

"Since I cannot ask Hamas, nor do I purport to understand its way of thinking,"

The evidence has been there for a long time, but Israelis need their demons.