Sunday, May 04, 2008


On Tuesday, 29 April 2008, the Los Angeles Times newspaper carried a report from Rushdi abu Alouf and Ashraf Khalil on the deaths of at least six Palestinians as a result of an Israeli air raid on the Gazan village of Beit Hanoun - 6 killed in Israeli raid on Gaza.

Citing Palestinian witnesses, the report said "an Israeli tank shell struck a one-story home in the northern Gazan village of Beit Hanoun, killing five members of the Abu Mutiq family" who were about to eat their breakfast. A Palestinian Authority Health Ministry official told the reporters that "the blast killed sisters Rudayna, 6, and Hanaa, 3; brothers Salih, 4, and Musab, 1. Their mother, Miyasar, 42, later died of her injuries. A passerby also was killed." The article told how Arab satellite channels were showing "four tiny corpses, swathed in white cloth, lined up in the hospital."

Several paragraphs into the article came the Israeli version of the event, i.e. that the home was not struck by a tank shell, that Israeli forces targeted from the air two armed men carrying bags approaching soldiers operating in the area and that the detonation of explosives in these bags "collapsed the nearby Abu Mutiq home."

As it turns out, the Palestinian eyewitnesses were lying about the tank shell. Those newspaper headlines trumpeting Israeli attack kills Palestinian mother and four children (The UK Independent) and Tank Kills Gaza Kids (Glasgow Daily Record) and the accompanying articles were misleading and deceptive.

The IDF which investigated the incident has now released a video clip that conclusively shows the deaths were caused by the explosives carried by the Gaza "militant" - IDF releases clip clearing itself of blame for Gaza family deaths.

The IDF probe has ruled out the possibility that the family was hit by Israeli fire. It reveals that four terrorists were spotted carrying weaponry and explosives on their backs. The IAF fire was on target and only hit the armed terrorists but the secondary explosion was far greater than that caused by the munitions used in the initial IDF bombing. While it was unfortunate that innocent people were killed in the incident, the blame clearly lies with Hamas which operates from populated areas, using civilians as human shields.

The biggest media lie came from a report from Associated Press whose articles are syndicated to outlets throughout the world. In Blast during Gaza fight kills Palestinian mother, 4 children Ibrahim Barzak had cited Palestinians who said "the militants were at least 400 yards from the house and none of the fighters were killed near the structure."

The deaths of the five members of the Abu Mutiq family and the single "passerby" provide an interesting insight into how some in the media work this conflict. The LA Times article is slanted in such a way that makes it difficult to escape from the conclusion that the operators of the (non-existent) Israel tank were responsible for the tragic deaths of this young family. There seems to have been little in the way of fact-checking or attempts to verify the stories of the "eye witnesses". A viewing of the house and the craters caused by the explosions alone would have dispelled the tank story as a lie. But by consigning the Israeli version to the nether regions of the article, it was clear what the authors wanted their readership to think.

The reality is something different altogether. Beit Hanoun is an area used by Palestinian terrorists from which daily rocket attacks are launched on Israeli civilians. They carry their arsenals through heavily populated civilian areas and use innocents - people like the Abu Mutiq family - as their human shields.

They and their handlers bear the responsibility for the war crime that the "passerby" was in the process of commiting when he took this young family with him to his paradise. Whether by design or by accident, it happens too often that the members of the media provide cover for these criminals and unless they are willing to pull back the curtain and reveal the truth about events like the Beit Hanoun deaths, they also share the responsibility.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I await the retractions in tomorrow's newspapers with bated breath.