The Melbourne Age newspaper today published an article that would have done Joseph Goebells proud.
The report entitled "INJURIES POINT TO NEW ISRAELI WEAPONS" is a truncated version of an offering from the Guardian newspaper by Rory McCarthy "GAZA DOCTORS SAY PATIENTS SUFFERING MYSTERY INJURIES AFTER ISRAELI ATTACKS" in which claims were made by Gazan doctors that they recently came across "previously unseen injuries from Israeli weapons that cause severe burning and leave deep internal wounds, often resulting in amputations or death."
The story is an obvious beat up.
The doctors in question provide descriptions of symptoms and make their diagnoses without a shred of evidence to support their outlandish claims. There's no indication whether scientific tests were undertaken to substantiate their conclusions but if the evidence existed, why did the doctors not produce it to human rights groups or to the reporter?
One of the doctors identified is Saied Jouda who just happens to be the deputy director of Kamal Odwan Hospital, the very same hospital where victims of the infamous Gaza Beach tragedy were taken earlier this year after the unfortunate explosion that was initially and wrongly blamed on Israeli shelling. There were questions raised about hospital procedure and recording at the time. Today's article has done nothing to dispel my doubts about the hospital's credibility and the competence of its staff.
The lack of evidence points to the whole story being another link in the endless chain of concoctions that form part of a carefully orchestrated anti Israel media campaign emanating from this part of the world. That campaign, based on lies and misinformation, in its present form stretches back from the opening days of the current conflict in 2000 with the death of Mohammed al Dura, to the infamous false allegations of a "massacre" in Jenin, to the above mentioned Gaza Beach "beat up". A similar monstrous and well documented campaign of deception was waged against Israel during the recent Lebanon war.
True to form, the Age didn't bother to include a rebuttal from the Israelis but the longer Guardian article at least allows them this courtersy. It quotes the IDF as denying the story and adding that the..."defence establishment is investing considerable effort to develop weaponry in order to minimise the risk of injury to innocent civilians." Professor Isaac Ben-Israel, a retired Israel air force general who was involved in weapons development said he believed the wounds came "from ordinary explosives".
An International Red Cross representative said his organisation was investigating and, although this is not reported anywhere, it should be added that the intervention of aliens from another galaxy hasn't yet been ruled out either!
An almost identical charge was levelled against Israel during the recent conflict in Lebanon but subsequent independent German tests found them to be false. This report from YOUTUBE is somewhat dramatic but it demonstrates the absurdity of the claim.
The question remains as to why the Age adopts such an unbalanced stance in its reporting of news from the region.
Why does the Age highlight people like Carmen Callil, Tony Judt and the execrable Antony Loewenstein when fatuous claims are made about the suppression of their free speech rights and then ignores the plight of Bangladeshi editor Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury (see here)?
Why are stories such as this one about the discovery of weapons smuggling tunnels in Gaza routinely ignored?
And closer to home, many are asking why has the Age shunned the story of a Jewish man* walking with his two children on the sabbath who was visciously assaulted by drunken louts coming home from the races?
It was a talking point in the city's major tabloid and on radio talk back for days this week but the Age preferred to leave the story on the blank pages while publishing dubious stories that, in all likelihood, originated inside Hamas' media machine and amount to nothing more than blatant propaganda.
POSTSCRIPT: * Since publishing the above, I have been informed that the Age did in fact, cover the story, albeit very briefly, in its on-line section but managed to get the victim's name wrong.