Reporter Patrick Martin of the Globe & Mail investigates the shelling of Palestinian gunmen near a UN school that led to the tragic death of 43 civilians. His conclusion? The facts don't support the accepted story that the school itself was shelled:
Physical evidence and interviews with several eyewitnesses, including a teacher who was in the schoolyard at the time of the shelling, make it clear: While a few people were injured from shrapnel landing inside the white-and-blue-walled UNRWA compound, no one in the compound was killed. The 43 people who died in the incident were all outside, on the street, where all three mortar shells landed.
Stories of one or more shells landing inside the schoolyard were inaccurate.
While the killing of 43 civilians on the street may itself be grounds for investigation, it falls short of the act of shooting into a schoolyard crowded with refuge-seekers.
One way to approach this question is to ask whether Hamas has achieved the objectives for which it escalated the crisis, by its refusal to extend the cease-fire. Musa Abu Marzuq, number two in the Damascus office, explained the primary Hamas objective in a very straightforward way: "The tahdiyeh had become 'a ceasefire [in exchange for another] ceasefire,' with no connection either to the crossings and [the goods] transported through them, or to the siege. Terminating it was [thus] a logical move." So Hamas gambled, escalated, and now finds itself, once again, in a "cease-fire for a cease-fire." Israel's primary objective was to compel a cease-fire by means of deterrence alone, without opening the crossings, thus serving its long-term strategy of containing and undercutting Hamas. This it has achieved, so far
. . .
There is something perverse in the notion that Hamas "won" by merely surviving. Robert Malley has said that "for Hamas, it was about showing that they could stay in place without giving way, and from this point of view it has achieved its main objective." This was not its "main objective" by any stretch of the imagination. Rashid Khalidi has written that "like Hizbullah in Lebanon in 2006, all [Hamas] has to do in order to proclaim victory is remain standing." But Hamas had a specific objective — lifting the "siege" — which was altogether different from the objective of Hezbollah. This objective Hamas manifestly failed to achieve. It also failed to achieve the secondary objective it shared with Hezbollah: inflicting Israeli military casualties. It defies logic to declare the mere survival of Hamas to be a triumph, given that Hamas openly declared a much larger objective, and Israel never made the military destruction of Hamas an objective.
AFP picked up on a report in Jane's Defence Weekly (subscription needed) that Hamas is launching an inquiry into the failures of the Gaza war:
Citing an unnamed top Hamas military commander, Jane's said a full report due soon would be critical of almost every decision taken by battlefield commanders during the 22-day assault, which ended last week.
The source quoted by Jane's added that Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal and his followers had effectively pushed for a conflict that it was not ready for . . . .
Hamas's military wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, and intelligence department have admitted shortcomings in how they responded to Israeli attacks . . .
I haven't seen the full report in Jane's, but if this inquiry is serious, it has the potential to spark a serious rift between Hamas's Gaza-based and Damascus-based leaders. Does anybody really believe their victory claims?
It now seems clear the last disastrous act of the Bush administration was giving Israel a green light to launch its final solution campaign against the Hamas government in Gaza.
Unfortunately, Margolis is just the tip of the iceberg. Amir Mizroch noted how anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers around the world sought to hijack yesterday's international Holocaust Memorial Day by linking it to the Gaza situation.
HR Canada is pushing for the Sun to reconsider keeping Margolis as a columnist. Director Mike Fegelman explained why:
What Margolis wrote is inflammatory and ridiculous and we think the media should reconsider using him because of his comments," Fegelman said. "This qualifies as anti-Semitism according to both the European Union and the US State Department's definition.
Der Spiegel didn't have much difficulty finding Gazans openly critical of Hamas. Reporter Ulrike Putz simply went to Beit Lahiya as Palestinians returned to their homes.
Two in particular, Mohammed Sadala, and another -- identified only as Hail -- shed light on how Hamas bears responsibility for the widespread destruction to civilian homes:
Mohammed Sadala's rage is aimed at the man, whose remains he found in his bedroom: a Hamas fighter. He and a comrade broke into the home which had long stood empty after the Sadala family fled. The Hamas men shot at the approaching Israelis from the balcony. The soldiers fired back, killing the militants and destroying the house of the 10-strong family in the process . . . .
Hail's house is just a few streets away and only suffered light damage. There are a few bullet holes in the living room walls and all of the window panes are broken. Hail also found out after the cease-fire that the militants had used his house as a base for their operations. The door to his house stood open and there were electric cables lying in the hallway. When Hail followed them they led to his neighbor's house which it seems Hamas had mined.
As Hail, in his mid-30s, sat on his porch and thought about what to do a man came by: He was from Hamas and had left something in Hail's home. He let him in and the man then emerged with a bullet proof vest, a rocket launcher and an ammunitions belt. An hour later a fighter with Islamic Jihad called to the door, then disappeared onto the roof and reappeared with a box of ammunition. "The abused civilians' homes for their own purposes. That is not right," Hail says with disgust while trying to remain polite.
The IDF presented its casualty figures for Op Cast Lead. YNet News writes:
The military estimates that between 1,100 and 1,200 people were killed during the offensive. Some 700 of are believed to be militants and most are believed to be Hamas operatives . . . .
The IDF has yet to verify the identity of some 200 fatalities, mostly men in their 20s, whose identification is delayed because they are still buried under the rubble. The defense establishment believed many of them would prove to be Hamas men.
Many of the fatalities were considered to be civilians at first, because there were no weapons found with them, said a military source, "But that method of operation is consistent with the way Hamas was hiding in the midst of civilians, moving between their strongholds with no weapons. In many cases someone thought to be a civilian casualty turned out to be a Hamas operative after we ran our checks."
BBC boss Mark Thompson's original statement defending his decision to not air an appeal for Gaza referred to aid not reaching its intended recipients, not just impartiality. Today, Thompson and now Sky News chief John Ryleyonly talk about the impartiality issue. Ryley said:
The absolute impartiality of our output is fundamental to Sky News and its journalism. That is why, after very careful consideration, we have concluded that broadcasting an appeal for Gaza at this time is incompatible with our role in providing balanced and objective reporting of this continuing situation to our audiences in the UK and around the world.
Israel's allowing aid in; its only concern is that the assistance not come into Hamas hands. So whether or not the Disaster Emergency Committee's appeal is aired doesn't concern Israel.
I don't know if Yaakov Kirschen had 60 Minutes in mind when he penned his latest Dry Bones cartoon. He may as well have.
Memo to 60 Minutes: If the two-state solution's fading, its because the Palestinian leadership is hopelessly divided, not because of settlements. Israel's disengagement from Gaza should've led to Palestinian nation-building, not parallel "Hamastans" and "Fatahstans."
See this persuasive case for a three-state solution articulated after Hamas's violent takeover of the Strip. If Israeli policymakers despair for a two-state solution, they might try cutting their losses and seek a separate peace with Ramallah.
The International Federation of Journalists slammed Hamas media and the MSM didn’t take note. This from a statement by the IFJ's Aiden White:
“In Gaza we found evidence of intimidation by Hamas. This is completely unacceptable. We understand that humanitarian help to media including safety vests for journalists in danger have been seized and confiscated. This is intolerable,” said White.
"The last month has been hell for journalists working in Gaza, "said Aidan White. "It is impossible to properly investigate the media situation in Gaza without considering the difficulties facing journalists, particularly because of the Hamas regime. It is clear that Hamas are no friends of media freedom and have been ruthless in their intimidation and manipulation of the media. The situation of journalists in Gaza was already intolerable without military activity and this latest conflict has not made it any better. The IFJ is particularly concerned by Hamas' attempts to interfere in the work of Palestinian journalists. Now that the violence has stopped, it is time for all sides, including Hamas, to allow journalists to work freely."
Maan News published a response from “the de-facto government” denying the IFJ charges. Meanwhile, Elder of Ziyon, who brought this to my attention, wonders about the MSM's deafening silence:
If journalists were so concerned about freedom of expression and objectivity, why did they all ignore this story from an organization that is dedicated to protecting them?
Op Cast Lead was a boon for Al-Jazeera, which managed to raise its profile in the US. AP explains:
Overall, the station's Web video stream saw a 600% jump in worldwide viewership during the Gaza offensive — and about 60% of those hits came from the United States, according to the station's internal numbers.
The BBC's in hot water because it's refusing to broadcast an appeal for Gaza by an umbrella organization of humanitarian organizations. The Disasters Emergency Committee requested the broadcast appeal, which is being aired on other UK channels.
BBC boss Mark Thompson posted an explanation on The Editors blog, offering two reasons for the refusal:
One reason was a concern about whether aid raised by the appeal could actually be delivered on the ground. You will understand that one of the factors we have to look at is the practicality of the aid, which the public are being asked to fund, getting through . . . .
After looking at all of the circumstances, and in particular after seeking advice from senior leaders in BBC Journalism, we concluded that we could not broadcast a free-standing appeal, no matter how carefully constructed, without running the risk of reducing public confidence in the BBC's impartiality in its wider coverage of the story. Inevitably an appeal would use pictures which are the same or similar to those we would be using in our news programmes but would do so with the objective of encouraging public donations. The danger for the BBC is that this could be interpreted as taking a political stance on an ongoing story.
Israel was unfortunately dragged into the backlash when Health Minister Ben Bradshaw said:
". . . this nervousness about being biased - I am afraid the BBC has to stand up to the Israeli authorities occasionally."
Why critics accuse the BBC of losing its nerve is because, several times during the present conflict, almost as much airtime has been given to the chief Israeli spokesman, Mark Regev, as if by allowing him his say, the BBC is supplying the necessary "balance" to the images of Palestinian victims. A live "two-way" between Mr Regev and Jon Snow of 'Channel 4 News' became a shouting match, but this has never happened on the BBC.
My four thoughts on the sorry situation:
Israel's already allowing aid into Gaza; as long as the assistance doesn't reach Hamas, Israel isn't the least bit interested in this affair.
Bradshaw's insinuation that Israel can pressure the BBC is ridiculous. There's no evidence Israel did so, and I highly doubt any Israeli officials had advance knowledge. Bradshaw's comments are just a twist on the old "Zionists control the media" canard. Since when has the BBC ever shown concern for its standing vis-a-vis Israel?
If the BBC has info that aid isn't reaching the intended people, then I applaud the Thompson for standing firm, and I can't wait to see a story about it.
It's a tremendous shame that the shortcomings of BBC coverage have come to this.
While most of the media was reporting a final toll of the Gaza war, an Italian reporter visiting many hospitals in the strip says the casualty rates were far, far lower, and that Palestinian journalists know it. The Jerusalem Post explains
The number of Palestinians killed in Operation Cast Lead did not exceed five or six hundred, Lorenzo Cremonesi, a correspondent for Italy's Corriere Della Sera reported on Thursday.
Cremonesi based his report on tours of hospitals in the Gaza Strip and on interviews with families of casualties. He also assessed the number of wounded to be far lower than 5,000, the number quoted by Hamas and repeated by the UN and the Red Cross in Gaza.
"It is sufficient to visit several hospitals [in the Gaza Strip] to understand that the numbers don't add up," he wrote.
In the European hospital in Rafah, one of the facilities which would presumably be filled with wounded from the "war of the tunnels," many beds were empty, according to Cremonesi. A similar situation was noted in the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, and in the privately-run Amal Hospital Cremonesi reported that only five out 150 beds were occupied.
YNet News notes that Palestinian reporters were aware of the inflated numbers, confirming this to Cremonesi:
The reporter for the Italian newspaper also quoted reporters in the Strip who told of Hamas' exaggerated figures, "We have already said to Hamas commanders – why do you insist on inflating the number of victims?"
These same reporters mentioned that the truth that will come out is likely to be similar to what occurred in Operation Defensive Shield in Jenin. "Then, there was first talk of 1,500 deaths. But then it turned out that there were only 54, 45 of which were armed men," the Palestinian reporters told the Italian newspaper.
NGO-Monitor examines what international law says about the war in Gaza.
An excellent job on how it relates to issues like Gilad Shalit’s fate, human shields, proportionate response, indiscriminate attacks, civilian casualties, collective punishment, and war crimes investigations.
Muammar Qadaffi gets op-ed space in the NY Times to call for a binational state. Look at what he uses as a weapon against the two-state solution:
It is important to note that the Jews did not forcibly expel Palestinians. They were never “un-welcomed.”
I'm going to update six arguments against the one-state solution Qadaffi refers to as "Isratine."
There's no shame in the concept of a Jewish state for the Jewish people.
The one-state solution negates Palestinian national aspirations just as it negates Jewish national aspirations.
Jews and Arabs don't share the language, history, religion, culture, or values required to make a bi-national effort work. Case in point: without an iron-fisted ruler, Yugoslavia disintegrated along ethnic lines and "Balkanization" became part of the world's lexicon.
Among themselves, the Arabs have no history of successful multi-ethnic states. Sectarian violence continues in Iraq, and Lebanon's no blueprint. With Christian Arabs are fleeing the Mideast, what's to inspire Israeli confidence?
Gadaffi doesn't mention it, but I must add that the South African model doesn't apply. Among the many differences between the two regions, Benny Pogrund points out that South Africa's blacks and whites had a cohesive leadership who could sell power-sharing to their constituencies, as well as economic interdependence. This is certainly not the case with Israelis and Palestinians.
With who would Israel negotiate a one-state solution anyway? The Fatah-Hamas rivalry points to a three-state solution.
How can you help Israel in this difficult post-war time? Join the June HonestReporting Solidarity mission; you'll meet Israel's top political and military leaders, tour communities affected by the Gaza War, and support those who defend Israel's borders.
• Exclusive briefings from Israel's newsmakers, journalists, insiders, and the HonestReporting staff.
• Tour Israel's southern communities and borders, plus other areas in the news.
• Israel advocacy training (previous participants give this a thumbs-up).
• First-class accomodations.
• June 3-9.
• Early bird special for bookings received by March 31.
Newsweek talked to gunmen who admitted using a hospital for firing at Israel:
One of the most notorious incidents during the war was the Jan. 15 shelling of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society buildings in the downtown Tal-al Hawa part of Gaza City, followed by a shell hitting their Al Quds Hospital next door; the subsequent fire forced all 500 patients to be evacuated . . . In the Tal-al Hawa neighborhood nearby, however, Talal Safadi, an official in the leftist Palestinian People's Party, said that resistance fighters were firing from positions all around the hospital. He shrugged that off, having a bigger beef with Hamas. "They failed to win the battle."
The Independent's Mark Steel is particularly shrill to read because Steel’s not as funny as he thinks.
Also, if the Israelis think the Hamas rockets are as lethal as they say, why don't they swap their F-16 fighters and Apache helicopters for a few of them?
These things are capable of terrorising a whole nation for years apparently, yet the Israelis have neglected to buy any, wasting their money on gunboats and stuff. Given that their annual arms budget is $7.2bn plus $2.2 bn in "aid", they'd save enough to buy a selection of banks in every country in the world.
Is the Man of Steel advocating an indiscriminate response to rocket fire? Doesn't sound funny to me.
Daily Telegraph correspondent Tim Butcher returns to Gaza for the first time since the war. His unusual reaction is well-worth reading:
I knew Gaza well before the attacks, so when Israel ended its ban on foreign journalists reaching Gaza on the day the ceasefire was announced, I was able to see for myself.
One thing was clear. Gaza City 2009 is not Stalingrad 1944. There had been no carpet bombing of large areas, no firebombing of complete suburbs. Targets had been selected and then hit, often several times, but almost always with precision munitions. Buildings nearby had been damaged and there had been some clear mistakes, like the firebombing of the UN aid headquarters. But, in most the cases, I saw the primary target had borne the brunt . . . .
But, for the most part, I was struck by how cosmetically unchanged Gaza appeared to be. It has been a tatty, poorly-maintained mess for decades and the presence of fresh bombsites on streets already lined with broken kerbstones and jerry-built buildings did not make any great difference.
The Jerusalem Post obtained an email sent by Norwegian envoy Trine Lilleng equating Operation Cast Lead with the Nazi Holocaust. Attached to her email were 40 photos, including this:
The image rang a bell with one veteran subscriber who recalled the story behind the photo of the young boy wetting his pants as Israeli forces arrested him. The Reuters photo was widely published; less publicized by the MSM -- or Lilleng -- was another Reuters photo taken beforehand; the child's pants were dry.
Israel estimates that 500 Hamas gunmen were killed in the fighting, but is also taking into account that in some cases it was difficult to differentiate between gunmen and civilians, as some terrorists wore plain clothes when they were unarmed. According to the army, the gunmen were able to travel unarmed as numerous structures throughout the Strip served as weapons caches. Therefore, the IDF said, some of those were counted as civilian casualties were actually gunmen.
Minimizing its own casualties figures has great value for Hamas. By inflating the number of deaths defined as "civilian," the greater the moral and legal pressure can be placed on Israel.
A column by Michael Backman headlined "Israel living high on US expense account" was published in error.
The Age does not in any way endorse the views of the columnist, apologises for the distress the column caused to many readers, particularly in the Jewish community and regrets publication of the column.
Meanwhile, The Australian reports that the Jewish community is considering legal action against The Age.
Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff said while legitimate criticism of Israel was acceptable, the article reflected "the bigotry of rank anti-Semitism" and promoted appalling stereotypes.
What is most alarming about the way this nonsense appeared in The Age is that it demonstrates the accepted wisdom among Australians who believe that in supporting Hamas they are barracking for the underdog. This is the equivalent of thinking fondly of the Confederacy because it fought the evil US army. Whatever the intellectually immature editors at The Age who published Blackman's [sic] piece think, Islamic terrorists want to kill all the Israelis, and then start on everybody else whose opinions annoy them.
Given his use of Nazi terminology in reference to Israel, the Toronto Sun should reconsider using Eric Margolis as a political pundit. See HonestReporting Canada's latest communique: Toronto Sun Columnist Eric Margolis Must Go
7:28 p.m. This aerial map of one section of Gaza City lays out how Hamas places rocket launchers, weapons depots, bunkers, rigged explosives, military positions, tunnels, and obstacles adjacent to schools, mosques and medical facilities.
6:52 p.m. With human rights groups intending to file war crimes charges, IDF officers travelling abroad are advised to first check with the Judge Advocate General. YNet News writes:
While the State is likely to be able to thwart such attempts in The Hague, having suits of this nature filed with local European courts quashed is more complex: Many of the European courts have taken it upon themselves to hear cases of alleged war crimes perpetrated in other countries, even if they themselves have no affinity to the case . . . .
According to political sources, the situation may take another turn for the worst after the foreign media will be allowed back into Gaza Strip, and the devastation in Gaza becomes more evident.
6:06 p.m. Daniel Flitton, diplomatic editor at The Age, examines the biases poisoning debate on both sides of the Gaza conflict. I like his general direction, but is it a slippery slope to moral equivalence?
6:02 p.m. I hope I'm wrong, but I expect The Economist will prove correct in the long-term on one point:
Unfortunately for Israel the rest of the world will remember the heavy civilian casualties without necessarily accepting Mr Barak’s attribution of most of them to Hamas’s “murderous cynicism” operating out of “schools, mosques and hospitals…using the civilian population as a human shield.”
If the press, "history's first-draft," proved itself reliable, there would certainly be a greater awareness of Hamas's "murderous cynicism."
5:41 p.m. This Chicago Tribune staff-ed lays out exactly what Hamas gained from the war:
Now Hamas—and the people of Gaza—should be wondering what they gained from this war. The answer: Hamas gained nothing and its people paid a heavy price.
Hamas was left Sunday demanding that all the entries to Gaza be opened—just what it was demanding before the fighting began.
Hamas wrested control of Gaza on the promise that it would govern more effectively than its corrupt rival Fatah. It promised Gazans prosperity. Instead, by provoking this war, it showed again that it would eagerly sacrifice its people's lives and security in the name of its terrorist goals.
Hamas can claim it has withstood Israel's fury and emerged intact. The core of this conflict, the blockade of Gaza, remains unchanged.
The Palestinians were firing weapons before disengagement, after disengagement under Abbas, and before Israel blockaded Gaza's Hamastan regime.
The only thing that remains unchanged is Hamas's refusal to recognize Israel's right to exist, accept previous peace agreements, and renounce violence.
4:37 p.m. Via Hadassah Levy, Richard Cravatts of the History News Network wonders why the Ontario chapter of Canada's largest trade union is defending Islamic University:
. . . virtually every leading figure of Hamas has taught or studied at Islamic University. The research labs of the university were also being used to refine the lethality and range of the Qassam rockets that have been terrorizing southern Israeli towns. A professor there, Jameela El Shanty, was quoted in 2006 as admitting that "Hamas built this institution. The university presents the philosophy of Hamas. If you want to know what Hamas is, you can know it from the university."
3:32 p.m.Shimon Shapira writes that Iran is already positioning itself to be a mover and shaker in Gaza's post-war rebuilding efforts.
In 2006, the Washington Times blew the lid on Hezbollah's own "home improvement program" that went on before the Second Lebanon War. (Hezbollah's better known Iranian-financed Construction Jihad project was after that war.)
3:02 p.m. Military force can defeat terror. Today's WSJ points to Sri Lanka, where the government has quietly recorded an impressive string of victories over the Tamil Tigers. The WSJ concludes with this thought:
But a political settlement is something to discuss after the Tigers have been subdued.
We recount this history at length to make a simple point: Colombo's military strategy against Tamil terrorists has worked. Negotiations haven't. That's an important reminder as Israel faces its own terrorism problem . . .
2:49 p.m. After fisking him, Australian columnist Caroline Overington notes that The Age yanked Michael Backman's screed, "Israelis are Living High on US Expense Account."
2:36 p.m. The Globe & Mail assesses Op Cast Lead's winners and losers. Do you agree with Patrick Martin?
How many Palestinian Anne Franks did the Israelis murder, maim or turn mad?
Anne Frank and Dutch Jewry didn't fire Qassams or Iranian-supplied Grad rockets at Germany for seven years . . .
2:14 p.m. Wow. Azad Ali, a Muslim civil servant in the UK's treasury ministry was suspended from work and may be sacked after making hardline comments on his personal blog, Between the Lines, about the UK government's reaction to the fighting in Gaza.
Mr Ali has had a central community role in helping to tackle Islamic fanaticism in Britain. He is head of the Muslim Safety Forum’s counter-terrorism team, working with the Home Office, senior police officers and the Security Services.
The civil service code restricts political activities “which impinge wholly or mainly on party politics” including “speaking in public on matters of national political controversy; expressing views on such matters in letters to the Press, or in books, articles or leaflets”.
The Daily Mail adds that Ali also appeared to advocate the killing of British troops in Iraq.
1:47 p.m.The Guardian presents one reason hiding among civilians and bringing widespread destruction upon Gaza will bring legitimacy for Hamas:
Salam Fayyad, Abbas's prime minister, warned that reconstruction aid for Gaza - which he estimated would need $1.5bn at once - must be channelled through the Ramallah-based administration. But EU governments and the UN have signalled that they are prepared to deal with Hamas.
Sticky post. Come back throughout the day. Will the Gaza ceasefire hold? What kinds of issues came up over the weekend?
7:51 p.m. This IDF video shows how Hamas arms caches and booby traps deliberately placed in civilian areas cause extensive collateral damage in secondary explosions.
7:36 p.m. How insane is this? Bessy Reyna, a regular contributor to the Hartford Courant, explains why she thinks Israel broke the cease fire -- and consequently lost the moral high ground:
It turns out that Hamas did not break the cease-fire that started in June with rocket attacks on Israel. It was Israel that attacked Gaza on Nov. 4. Between the June 18 cease-fire agreement and Nov. 4, there were 15 rocket attacks from Gaza, which an Israeli spokesman agreed were not fired by Hamas.
Israel's justification for the Nov. 4 attack was that Hamas was building a tunnel. Former President Jimmy Carter said in a piece he wrote for The Washington Post on Jan. 8 that Israel launched an attack in Gaza to destroy a defensive tunnel being dug by Hamas. In interviews, Mark Regev, Israel's official government spokesman, admits Israel targeted the tunnel, not in retaliation for a rocket attack, but to prevent further attacks and the possible kidnapping of Israeli soldiers. Israel paints construction of the tunnel as an aggressive act by Hamas. This rationale comes very close to what President Bush used in attacking Iraq: looking for the weapons of mass destruction that never materialized.
7:15 p.m. Bad analogy from Steve Niva. The wonk from Evergreen State College writes in the Seattle Times:
In addition to doing all it can to improve the horrendous living conditions of Palestinians in both Gaza and the West Bank, this would also mean accepting that Hamas, like all previous groups who used terrorist violence for their cause, such as the FLN or the IRA, can only be moderated through inclusion in a political process that addresses fundamental national grievances.
I really don't know enough about the Algerian FLN movement, but I do know that renouncing violence was a necessary first-step for the IRA before it earned its place in the political process.
5:32 p.m. In the Boston Globe, Eric Calderwood descibes how he and the Syria street experience Al-Jazeera's coverage of Gaza as something akin to reality TV:
The network's producers seem to have learned a lot from American reality television, where real footage is crafted and spliced into a compelling narrative with characters, personal conflict, and a dramatic arc. Each day, viewers here in Syria and across the Arab world tune into a new "episode." Each day, the war's narrative builds and folds back on itself, reinforcing the audience's familiarity with the cast of characters: Hamas, the scrappy rebel; Israel, the regional bully; the civilians of Gaza - and, in particular, the wounded children - caught in the middle of the conflict. The "international community" is a bloviating model of inefficacy, tied up in innumerable committees and summits. Through it all stride the Al-Jazeera correspondents, decked out in blue bulletproof vests . . . .
As perverse as it may sound, Al-Jazeera's coverage of the war satisfies, in the same way that a sitcom or serialized drama satisfies. It's not so much surprise that keeps bringing you back, but rather your familiarity with the characters' flaws and faults. And you know that your experience of the drama is not individual but rather collective. Walk into any cafe, grocery store, or dry cleaner in Damascus, and you are almost certain to find a TV tuned to Al-Jazeera's around-the-clock coverage of the war in Gaza. There is solidarity and also a certain comfort in watching the grim reality of war en masse.
4:03 p.m.Rand Simberg: Hamas replaces the cult of Moloch -- with media culpability -- for the sacrifice of Palestinian children by hiding its men and weapons among civilians and children:
Moloch has returned to the Mideast, after millennia. Except this time, the maw of the bull is the eye of the camera lens, into which the slaughter of the innocents is fed to a complicit press to be passed on to a gullible world.
And this time, those sacrificing the children don’t want to drown out the noise of the terrified screams of those tossed to the fire. The screams, and (as always) the terror, are the whole point.
HonestReporting didn't articulate it like that, but earlier this month, we predicted Hamas would engineer civilian casualties -- even a massacre -- that Israel could be blamed for. Professor Richard Landes saw this coming a mile away.
3:55 p.m. The matzav and its missiles reach David Bogner in Beersheva, who realizes: We Are All Sderot.
3:27 p.m. The JTA (via Infidels are Cool) reports that Lucia Annunziata (pictured), one of the nation's top journalists, touched off a firestorm of controversy by walking off a show to protest pro-Palestinian bias:
Lucia Annunziata, a former president of the state broadcaster RAI, was a guest Thursday night on an episode of the RAI show Annozero dedicated to the situation in Gaza.
At one point she interrupted host Michele Santoro and sharply criticized him for the tone and bias of the show and its guests.
"So far, except for one girl, it has been 99.9 percent pro-Palestinian," she said.
Santoro in turn shouted at Annunziata, calling her criticism "idiocy." She stood up, detached her microphone and walked off the set.
We can be both Pro Israel and Pro the Palestinian People. Let us help Israel and the Palestinians by both eradicating the terrorist groups while simultaneously building schools, infrastructure, and providing opportunity. Let us replace fear with hope, rockets with opportunity.
At the end of the day, let us understand that Islamic religious totalitarianism is the 21st Century version of Hitler's National Socialism. What do we do with evil? Negotiate compromise, surrender or confront? The answer will determine not only the fate of Israel, but the fate of world peace for years to come.
I hadn't heard of Rev. Rodriguez before. As president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), he represents 15 million people.
2:09 p.m. Memo to Hamas leaders: rejecting the truce leads to unenviable headlines like this:
12:58 p.m. Amazing. The Washington Post's feature for children, KidsPost, explains the issue of proportionate response more clearly for children than most material online for adults:
Palestinians say the large number of dead and wounded shows that Israel is attacking them with too much force. Israel says a big reason so many Palestinians have died is that Hamas puts fighters and military equipment in the middle of areas packed with innocent people. So when Israel targets those fighters, civilians get caught in the fighting.
12:12 p.m. Could the irony be any more striking? Richard Landes cites Israeli media reports that Hamas terrorists used the BBC's office to fire rockets at the IDF, used staff as human shields too. You'd think the Beeb would note this in their coverage . . .
12:03 p.m. HonestReporting editor Simon Plosker was interviewed on PajamasMedia TV about MSM coverage of the Gaza war. You can now watch the video for free.
11:46 a.m. In Melbourne, Michael Backman thinks Israeli persecution of Hamas is the source of the Islamists resiliency:
One characteristic that is common among persecuted groups is a strong investment in education — when people's physical wealth is in danger of destruction from war and persecution one store of wealth that stays with individuals even when they must flee as refugees is education. It explains why such groups often insist on their own schools — education is too important to be entrusted to others.
What Backman calls education, I call "brainwashing." And the brainwashing Hamas isn't entrusting to others is against Westen civilization too.
9:41 a.m. Gaza fauxtography? Gateway Pundit finds that photographer Abid Katib has a history of using kids' props.
9:39 a.m. Professor Gerald Steinberg addresses Human Rights Watch, the source of much of the MSM's phosphorus allegations:
HRW's "evidence" was based entirely on innuendo and unverifiable "eyewitness" reports. One report states that "[o]n January 9, Human Rights Watch researchers on a ridge overlooking Gaza from the northwest observed multiple air-bursts of artillery-fired WP that appeared to be over the Gaza City/Jabalya area. In addition, Human Rights Watch has analyzed photographs taken by the media on the Israel-Gaza border." HRW does not name its researchers; it does not provide a detailed location of its observation, nor does it identify the photos it "analyzed" making independent verification of this "evidence" impossible.
INDEED, TWO days later, the International Committee of the Red Cross, which certainly cannot be accused of a pro-Israeli bias, issued a statement that backed the IDF statements.
At a stormy press conference on Friday, reporters used HRW's allegations as a weapon against Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.
9:32 a.m.Elder of Ziyon: Mahmoud Zahar apparently escaped to Egypt -- smuggled in an ambulance.
9:27 p.m. Lebanese cartoonist Arman Homsy (via Memri) understands the risks to Lebanon if Hezbollah gives a green light to continued Katyusha fire. Feel free to disagree, but it suggests Israel has regained a significant degree of deterrence.
Hezbollah adventurism won't play well to Lebanese voters when the nation goes to the polls this June.
9:13 a.m. Entire unit of Iranian-trained Hamasniks wiped out by IDF. According to Haaretz:
The unit numbered approximately 100 men who had traveled to Iran and Hezbollah camps, mostly in the Beka'a Valley, where they were trained in infantry fighting tactics. The militants were also trained in the use of anti-tank missiles, the detonation of explosives, among other skills.
They managed to return to the Gaza Strip through tunnels in the Rafah border area . . .
9:09 a.m. The the Red Cross backtracks on some of Gaza's "humanitarian disaster" hysteria. The NY Times writes:
The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Jakob Kellenberger, who spent Tuesday in Gaza City, agreed that the situation with civilians was dire but said that the principal hospital was making do with medical supplies, and that doctors, working around the clock, were mostly coping with the flow of the wounded.
A sticky post continuously updated. Keep coming back here throughout the day.
6:24 p.m. Too bad Israeli civilians in the Western Negev can't afford to buy flak jackets like the reporters wear. Despite what the journos have written in the past about the "crude" "homemade" rockets, the flak jackets make a bigger fashion "statement."
5:52 p.m. NATO forces in Kosovo suffered no combat fatalities against Serbians; Martin Sherman explains why, along with a lesson in proportionate response:
Quite the contrary, the very modus operandi they adopted - i.e. high altitude bombing - demonstrates that they deliberately aspired to disproportionality. As noted, this ensured an almost zero casualty rate among their own combatants but inevitably resulted in less accurate targeting of alleged military objectives on the ground, exposing a virtually defenseless civilian population to far greater danger and far higher casualties.
‘Put a sock in it’
All of this serves to underscore vividly the crass hypocrisy of Israel's critics. Indeed, in stark contrast to NATO's willful disregard for enemy civilians, the IDF has often placed Israeli soldiers in mortal peril to prevent Palestinian civilians from being harmed. Furthermore, Israel's use of military might has invariably been in response a tangible threat – or actual assault – on its citizens.
5:22 p.m. Scott MacLeod of Time was so busy blogging statements from Palestinian National Initiative, UNICEF, Ban Ki-moon, B'Tselem, the Red Cross, and Human Rights Watch about the humanitarian situation in Gaza he simply forgot to get a comment from Israel.
5:13 p.m.Barry Rubin: Mideast conflict ain't about Jews vs. Arabs; it's about Islamic fundamentalists vs. Arab nationalists.
4:58 p.m. A few days ago, the NY Times reported how Al-Jazeera's going for broke to reach US audiences by licensing its Gaza coverage as Creative Commons rather than as Copyright. I wondered if this meant that the West would be flooded with Al-Jazeera coverage.
4:31 p.m. If this Christian Science Monitor is indicative of the West Bank mindset, any Israeli handover of Gaza to Fatah will be a complicated dance in its own right:
"Fatah is not planning to take over or to control Gaza again. If there are some elements inside Fatah who think along these lines, they are dreaming," he says.
"Those who think otherwise are not being realistic. Going back to Gaza should be coordinated between the [PA] and Hamas," Mr. Rajoub says. The reality, he says, is that Hamas cannot be destroyed. "Hamas may have been harmed significantly and suffered heavy losses militarily, but on the street, they will remain strong."
When will Fatah realize it takes -- not three -- but two to tango?
The United Nations agency that administers a school in Gaza where dozens of civilians were killed by Israeli mortar fire last week has admitted to employing terrorists to work at its Palestinian schools in the past, has no system in place to keep members of Hamas or Islamic Jihad off its payroll, and provides textbooks to children that contain hate speech and other incendiary information.
The UNRWA still has some 'splaining to do about Awad al-Qiq.
As Israel demonstrates anew its determination to end attacks on its civilians by militants based in Hamas-controlled territory, many in India, still smarting from the horrors of the Mumbai attacks in November, have been asking: Why can’t we do the same?
As the Israeli military drives deeper into Gaza, local officials here say the rocket attacks on the city have dropped from about 40 to two on this day. For the people of Sderot, that is still two too many.
2:58 p.m.Jay Rosen has an important piece on HuffPost lays out why bloggers and online activists are so important for expanding the national debate. In essence, Israel activists ignore what’s happening online at their own peril.
In the age of mass media, the press was able to define the sphere of legitimate debate with relative ease because the people on the receiving end were atomized-- meaning they were connected "up" to Big Media but not across to each other. But today one of the biggest factors changing our world is the falling cost for like-minded people to locate each other, share information, trade impressions and realize their number. Among the first things they may do is establish that the "sphere of legitimate debate" as defined by journalists doesn't match up with their own definition.
There are entire new boundaries open for what's considered legitimate debate; but as HonestReporting's Alex Margolin argues in today's Jerusalem Post, you have to be online, actively contributing to the discussion, in order to make a difference.
2:29 p.m. Just got off the phone with Yarden Frankl, HonestReporting's special projects producer. He along with David Ehrlich of Gili's Goodies and several volunteers, are delivering messages of support, baked treats and more to soldiers.
"We have a 15,000 baked goods from Gili’s Goodies, 500 flannel undershirts, HonestReporting fleeces, and 12,000 messages of support from our readers. We're at a staging base for soldiers heading to Gaza, and I can tell you morale is high. Soldiers are finishing eating, so we’ll start giving them dessert."
Send a Soldier a Smile today. When we delivered smiles last week, Col. Bentzi Gruber explained the significance of the support.
1:21 p.m. The war's hitting home for the MSM -- literally. The Washington Post writes
A high-rise building housing journalists was also struck. The Reuters news service, which has offices in the building, reported that at least one journalist had been injured and that multiple media organizations had to evacuate the building.
Did you really think that terrorists operating among civilians would care about the presence of reporters at at the Shourouq Tower?
1:08 p.m. Heh. Pro-Gaza demonstration in Ramallah cancelled for lack of protesters. Are Haaretz and the NY Times reporting from the same Ramallah?
1:02 p.m. Forget Al-Jazeera. The MSM's real eyes and ears in Gaza is the Ramattan News Agency. The Media Line explains:
The Gaza City facility’s “corps-of-30” is directly responsible for bringing the sights and sounds of the battles in Gaza to untold millions. It is the Ramattan television feed that is being seen beneath the imprimaturs of CNN, NBC, CBS, FOX in the United States, and the BBC, TV2 Denmark, NOS Netherlands, Quatro Spain, Uno Italy, ITN U.K. and TFI France in Europe. And while one might expect Ramattan to service Al Jazeera, as it does, it might surprise some to learn that Ramattan also provides the television feeds or services to Channels 1, 2 and 10 in Israel.
When asked if Hamas had a problem with Ramattan servicing Israel, one employee, speaking anonymously, said, "We're a private company trying to provide news from Gaza. We don't have a problem with Israelis. We're trying to convince them that we are the victims."
11:19 a.m. I have quite a few emails from readers wondering why HonestReporting's web site was briefly down yesterday. Hackers using an Algerian ISP gave us their best shot -- our webmaster counted 2,000 hack attempts in a two-hour period. At one point, we briefly took the site offline ourselves as a precaution.
No damage was done and everything's running smoothly.
11:15 a.m. Pajamas TV, the people who brought Joe the Plumber (Joe Wurzelbacher) over to Israel interviewed HonestReporting editor Simon Plosker. You can watch Simon discuss media coverage with Joe Hicks by clicking here (registration and subcription fee necessary).
10:39 a.m.Pakistan Daily lists HonestReporting along with McDonalds, Starbucks and Adam Sandler as Zionist conspirators.
10:24 a.m. HonestReporting is really making its voice heard. In today's Jerusalem Post, HR's social media editor, Alex Margolin, writes that its up to the public to support Israel online.
With all this activity, it's tempting to believe that government officials and organized activists have the situation covered. In reality, however, these efforts only address half the equation. The second half belongs to the public. Because of the "social" nature of today's Internet - where content is increasingly generated by users, not the sites themselves - quality content is not enough. It is also vital to maximize the quantity of people spreading Israel's message.
In other words, state agencies can do great work providing videos, images and information and activists can organize the material and create channels for public participation, but success in the media war will largely be determined by what the masses of supporters do with the information.
Liveblogging continues. Come back to this post throughout the day.
8:53 p.m. The latest fatwa: Israeli-Arab IDF soldiers in Gaza killed in line of duty will not get buried in Muslim cemeteries, nor are prayers for their souls permitted in mosques.
Silly me, I thought those racist Zionists banned Arabs and other minorities from serving.
8:31 p.m. Just found report in English about the Palestinian phosphorus shell found in Western Negev at YNet News.
8:23 p.m. Palestinian mortar shell landing in a western Negev community found containing phosphorus. Nobody injured, no damage caused. The name of the community is not being identified for security reasons. Details at Walla (in Hebrew).
6:52 p.m. British professor Frank Furedi looks at the European demonstrations against Israel and points out that protesters are "targeting Jews for being Jews," and that the distinction between anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish sentiment is blurred.
The most worrying development in Europe is not the visible signs of radical Muslim and far-Right vitriol directed at Jews but the new culture of accommodation.
What has emerged is a slightly embarrassed "see nothing, hear nothing" attitude that shows far too much understanding towards manifestations of anti-Semitism.
5:52 p.m. Note the disconnect between the Daily Telegraph's headline and photo caption. Do the multitude of shoppers and abundant food look like a humanitarian crisis? Via Brian of London.
4:59 p.m.This AP report debunking allegations that Israel illegally uses phosphorus shells has 81 Diggs; meanwhile, an earlier AP report posted on NPR's web site with the original claims has 1,251 Diggs.
4:35 p.m. An Israeli satirical TV show, Eretz Nehederet, spoofed BBC coverage of the war. One of our readers uploaded the skit to YouTube and added a much-appreciated plug for HonestReporting. (The skit's in English, with Hebrew subtitles.
4:03 p.m. Earlier today, I wondered if Egypt had the guts to allow a foreign presence to monitor tunnel activity along its border with Gaza. But after reading Dore Golds' latest commentary, I wonder if the world has the guts to let Israel itself patrol the Philadelphi corridor.
3:54 p.m. A helicopter pilot identified only as "Capt. Orr" discusses Gaza airstrikes and civilian casualties with AP:
He said he has seen Hamas use civilians as its human shields, and he has held his fire in such cases. But he added that all those who accused Israel of targeting civilians were mistaken and misled by what they saw on TV. He personally has called off many airstrikes, even at the risk of letting a rocket-launcher get away, for fear of harming an innocent woman or a child. He said by doing so, he was following both his military orders and his own conscience.
3:41 p.m.Jeffrey Goldberg explains how the relationship between Hamas and Hezbollah is more complex than you thought, and what the implications are for the war.
3:29 p.m. Worth reading: slices of Hamas gunmens' lives in the NY Times.
3:20 p.m. The Washington Post picks up on constant feuding between NGOs and Israel.
2:28 p.m.BBC bureau chief Jeremy Bowen examines comparisons between the Mideast and Irish conflicts:
At different times the IRA planted bombs on the British mainland that killed people and did a lot of damage. The actions of the British security forces during three decades of the Troubles were very controversial, and still are today. Sometimes the British army killed innocent people.
But Britain never used heavy weapons, fast jets, air strikes and attack helicopters. Tracked armoured vehicles were very rarely seen.
Had the IRA fired thousands of rockets at mainland Britain for eight years while calling for the liberation of the entire UK, from the North Sea to the Channel, seized power without ever renouncing violence, and entrenched itself in Belfast, I'll bet we'd see a heavier show of British force.
2:40 p.m. A powerful statement, considering it comes from a senior editor at the Toronto Star, one of Canada's largest daily papers:
And while Torontonians on either side of the Middle East conflict rage or reflect on events in Gaza – with sit-ins and street protests and letter writers at full bore – the world's largest émigré community of Sri Lankan Tamils is wondering why it barely rates a mention in the Canadian media. For David Poopalapillai of the Canadian Tamil Congress, the disparity is inexplicable.
"Please write about us," he implored after phoning twice last week, even though he knows we disagree about the notorious Tamil Tigers. "No one is writing about the Tamils, and you've been there many times."
2:15 p.m.Does Egypt have the guts to back up its calls for a cease fire by allowing international monitors to look for tunnels along its border with Gaza?
2:06 p.m. I don't believe the Irish blueprint for peace applies to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Jonathan Freedland is free to disagree. I do appreciate his candor addressing one of my concerns:
The next stage is the hardest. Adams has called on Israel to enter direct dialogue with Hamas, learning the Irish lesson that for peace to work it must include even those on the extremes. But it's not quite that simple. Republicans did not get their seat at the table until they had forsworn violence and agreed to pursue their goals by exclusively peaceful means. Israel could truthfully cite the Ulster precedent when it says it cannot sit down with Hamas until it renounces violence.
It's worth recalling that Israel had a "peace partner" named Yasser Arafat who supposedly renounced violence.
1:48 p.m. The International Court of Justice may be asked for an advisory opinion on Operation Cast Lead. I'm not aware of any advisory opinions on eight years of rocket fire, but as The Guardian notes:
Neither Israel nor the Palestinian territories are signatories to the Rome statute, which brings states within the jurisdiction of the ICC.
1:21 p.m. The International Red Cross debunks claims that Israel uses white phosphorus shells against civilians. AP writes:
"In some of the strikes in Gaza it's pretty clear that phosphorus was used," Herby told The Associated Press. "But it's not very unusual to use phosphorus to create smoke or illuminate a target. We have no evidence to suggest it's being used in any other way." . . . .
Herby said that using phosphorus to illuminate a target or create smoke is legitimate under international law, and that there was no evidence the Jewish state was intentionally using phosphorus in a questionable way, such as burning down buildings or consciously putting civilians at risk.
And NGO-Monitor wonders about Human Rights Watch, which has made the most noise about the phosphorus issue.
Will the MSM label Lebanese army operations in restive refugee camps as "disproportionate?" Naaaah.
12:45 p.m. Hamas web forums are censoring all comments about their own casualties, including names, stats and photographs. The IICC further adds that Hamas some fatalities aren't receiving proper burials
It should be noted that a similar policy was followed by Hezbollah in the second Lebanon war, when it purposefully did not publish the names of killed operatives, preferring instead to bury them in secret, without media coverage, to reinforce the “divine victory” myth it sought to create . . .
to avoid undermining the morale of Hamas operatives as a result of the death of many terrorists during the IDF's ground operations (according to IDF reports, more than 200 operatives were killed). With that in mind, and possibly owing to the difficulty of evacuating many bodies from the battlefield, it was reported that Hamas was not holding proper funerals for its fatalities.
7:05 p.m. I don't agree with the overall commentary, but Gwynne Dyer articulates an important point about collateral damage I can't ignore:
"The only reason there are more victims in Gaza than in Sderot is because Hamas is not good at shooting rockets," Zalli Jaffe, an Israeli civilian living in Jerusalem, told a BBC reporter last week. "To conclude that Israel is at fault would be like saying the U.S. was wrong in World War II because many more Germans died than did Americans."
That is quite true: Hamas would do exactly the same to Israelis if it could.
Individuals are turning to social media to express their feelings and beliefs as they should. I once hoped that social media would make the world more peaceful through direct exposure to the freedoms, capitalism, and individualism (Western ideals) present on social networks and in social media.
Unfortunately it appears that social media may in fact have a reverse effect: a deepening polarization as we are exposed to new cultures. I still believe that social media will help us to obtain a more clear view of the world but circumstances such as this one make the situation increasingly complex and even more polarized.
A more recent entry posted a few hours ago notes the surge in two Gaza-related applications:
The QassamCount application has grown to over 283,000 monthly active users and the STOP Israel’s War Crimes in Gaza application has surged to almost half a million users as of this morning. By tomorrow the application will likely be among the top hundred most active applications on Facebook.
5:44 p.m. Only a wonk writing from the comfort of Vancouver would ask this:
Hiding behind civilians is illegal, but two wrongs do not make a right. The relevant question is, again, whether the direct military advantage of a particular target exceeds the risk to civilians. Is destroying a mortar position next to a school worth 42 innocent lives?
Michael Byers wouldn't ask such a question if the mortar position was about to fire at him.
5:26 p.m. Indicted: journalist and news producer charged with revealing confidential info during a live broadcast after they spotted IDF forces gearing up for a ground incursion. YNet News writes:
Although aware of the fact that the forces' movements were under embargo and were not cleared for publication by the IDF censor, the two began a live broadcast detailing the troops' moves.
The broadcast, said the prosecution, included an enumerate report of the forces and their vehicles; information which they knew could easily find its way to viewers in Gaza, including Hamas members.
4:39 p.m. While we're at the Toronto Star, let's rewrite a parenthetical statement by columnist Linda McQuaig:
(The removal of a few Israeli settlements from Gaza in 2005 resulted in tighter, not looser, Israeli military control over the territory.)
(The rise of Hamas, which followed the removal Israeli settlements from Gaza in 2005, resulted in tighter, not looser, Israeli military control over the territory.)
4:28 p.m.Toronto Star correspondent Oakland Ross examines Israel's media war. It's a much more level-headed and thoughtful piece than BBC bureau chief Jeremy Bowen's rumination.
No doubt Hamas is stubborn, even unreasonable, but Peres well remembers that in the long history of his own people there have been times, from Masada to Warsaw, when stubborn men deemed it better to resist against hopeless odds rather than accept subjugation.
If the Hamas leaders hiding in bunkers below ShifaHospital kill themselves without taking other patients with them, perhaps they’ll manage to salvage a little respect in the judgment of history -- suicide provided no boost for Hitler's legacy. Holing up underneath a hospital and sending others to die just isn’t heroic. As one commentary in the US News & World Report puts it:
Shields protect honorable combatants in the midst of battle. Human shields are the weapon of cowards . . .
2:18 p.m. AFP treats Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert like an in-house expert, giving him a platform to accuse Israel of illegally using experimentalweapons and raise the ghosts of Sabra and Shatila, But our colleagues at CAMERA dug up quite a few skeletons in the closet of this medical activist:
Gilbert is a radical Marxist and a member of the political Red (Rodt) party, a revolutionary socialist party in Norway. He has been a pro-Palestinian activist since the 1970's and travelled to Lebanon in support of the Palestinians during the first Lebanon war in 1982. He has long been a vocal opponent of Israel and the U.S. Gilbert has acknowledged that he cannot separate politics from medicine, stating, "there is little in medicine that is not politics." He even criticizes the group Doctors Without Borders for providing medical assistance to both sides in a conflict instead of taking a strong stance and supporting only one party. In a 2006 article in Nordlys, journalist Ivan Kristoffersen lamented the fact that Gilbert allows his humanitarian efforts to be politicized by his radical agenda.
1:25 p.m. Meanwhile in Lebanon, the LA Times introduces us to an 18-year-old product of Hezbollah's educational system:
Aspiring filmmaker Hiba Qassir is about to graduate from a Hezbollah-backed high school. She loves movies, but would give up her career dream if offered the chance to be a suicide bomber.
12:57 p.m. BBC bureau chief Jeremy Bowen ponders narratives, press restrictions and "the sheer weight of images of suffering from Gaza"
12:45 p.m.Fox News talked to media watchdogs, including HonestReporting editor Simon Plosker about coverage of the Gaza fighting. Much of the discussion dealt with France 2 TV's apology for mishandled footage:
"This is further proof that you can't always believe the pictures coming out of Gaza at the moment," Honest Reporting Managing Editor Simon Plotsker [sic] told FOX News. "Hamas is controlling the images coming out for their own morale; they play up civilian casualties to use as propaganda against Israel."
12:09 p.m.Heh. Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams calls on the world to recognize Hamas's electoral victory and engage the Islamists. Z-Word shows how Adams's own "journey" doesn't apply to Hamas.
11:57 a.m.Michael Totten explains why Hamas gunmen fighting in civilian clothes is bad news for the media:
Not only do Israelis have a harder time figuring out who is a target and who needs protection, we all have a harder time identifying those who have already been wounded and killed. Hamas says mostly civilians have been wounded and killed in the fighting in Gaza, but its fighters look just like everyone else. They can trot out the bodies of two dead terrorists in front of the cameras and say they’re civilians, thus easily fooling just about anyone. The number of civilian casualties, therefore, appears much higher than it really is. But even if that weren’t the case, far more civilians are being killed in this war because Hamas is fighting dirty.
11:54 a.m.We have differences with Jordanian cartoonist Imad Hajjaj, but I respect the fact that he's not afraid to take on the Arab establshment -- today, via Memri, he turns his attention to Arab media coverage of the Gaza war.
11:43 a.m. Yesterday, Benyamin Netanyahu discussed the war in Gaza with bloggers. One Jerusalem posted an audio of the conference call. More details at Gateway Pundit,
11:15 a.m. Efforts to use humanitarian aid to smuggle items into Gaza continue. This from Reuters:
An Israeli security guard holds an electronic device at the Kerem Shalom crossing outside the southern Gaza Strip January 12, 2009. Israel said on Monday it was investigating how a night-vision security camera and other electronics ended up on humanitarian aid trucks bound for the war-torn Gaza Strip. The equipment was seized at the Kerem Shalom border crossing before entering the coastal enclave along with truckloads of food, medicine and other humanitarian goods, said defence official Peter Lerner. REUTERS/Amir Cohen (ISRAEL)
11:07 a.m. Protect Beersheva, Ashkelon and Sderot from Qassam rockets in a game of Iron Dome online.
10:58 a.m. Thumbs up to NY Times bureau chief Ethan Bronner for a great piece about the oft-ignored "Israeli street."
“It is very frustrating for us not to be understood,” remarked Yoel Esteron, editor of a daily business newspaper called Calcalist. “Almost 100 percent of Israelis feel that the world is hypocritical. Where was the world when our cities were rocketed for eight years and our soldier was kidnapped? Why should we care about the world’s view now?”
3:41 p.m.Olsen & Olsen seem to assume Hamas is just a political party and that the people of Gaza who voted for it weren't aware that the Islamists refuse to accept Israel's existence, renounce violence, or accept previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements.
3:31 p.m. If only this pithy observation by Allan Richarz could the last word on proportionate response:
A militarily superior force should not limit itself because of the international community's desire to root for the underdog.
3:25 p.m. Since the beginning of Operation Cast Lead, 35 non-governmental organizations have issued 175 statements against the fighting. NGO-Monitor looks at the results of their broken quills and spilled ink.
11:09 a.m. Is the MSM going to be flooded with Al-Jazeera footage? The NY Times says the network, which bills itself as only international broadcaster with a presence in Gaza, is going for broke to reach US audiences:
Al Jazeera planned to announce this week that all its video material of the war in Gaza would become available under the most lenient Creative Commons license, which basically means it can be used by anyone — rival broadcaster, documentary maker or individual blogger, for example — as long as Al Jazeera is credited.
Last year, AP fees for quoting stories on blogs rankled the blogosphere. But for Al-Jazeera, this isn't about money. What will this mean for Israel?
10:32 a.m. Professor Richard Landes flags another example of Pallywood dynamics in action.
The dynamic is this: Boy posts video online, misrepresents it, and the video goes viral among Arab viewers. Sharp-eyed bloggers spot the misrepresentation, boy admits error, but keeps video online. France 2 TV (wouldn't ya know?) picks up on video, giving it new legitimacy, then apologizes.
Landes did a thorough job of putting all the pieces together in context, so read it all there. This is another case of false info remaining online long enough to return and cause damage. Another example of this phenomenon is when Robert Fisk accused Israel of using uranium weapons in Lebanon.
Even though UN and Lebanese officials confirmed that no radioactive weapons were used, The Independent never retracted the story, allowing people to post comments even today. The internet gives material a life all it’s own, separate from the reality.
9:19 a.m. Nice tips from Mashable for following Gaza developments in the traditional and social media. Via Journalism News.
9:04 a.m. Joe the Plumber makes his journalism debut in Sderot, followed by a gaggle of reporters -- who he tells off for botching coverage of the war.
8:46 a.m. Hamas boobytrapped a school and a zoo.
8:43 a.m. The ultimate human shields: Hamas leaders are hiding in a bunker under Shifa Hospital, refurbished by Israel. Haaretz writes:
The Israeli civil administration in the territories constructed the hospital complex's Building Number 2, which has a large cement basement that housed the hospital's laundry and various administrative services.
During a cabinet meeting a week ago, Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin said senior Hamas officials found refuge in the hospital basement because they know Israel would not target it, due to the patients in the upper floors. Palestinian sources told Haaretz that not all the senior Hamas leaders are hiding in one place.
6:48 p.m. French authorities pulled the plug on Hamas's TV station, Al-Aqsa TV.
The decision by France's CSA, or broadcasting authority, requires Eutelsat, the country's leading satellite broadcaster and the world's third largest, to stop broadcasting Al-Aqsa TV. The channel started airing in 2007 and is modeled after Hezbollah's Al-Manar television channel, which has been designated a terrorist entity by the United States and was removed from Eutelsat in 2004 and 2005.
A few years ago, a Washington Times commentary clearly articulated why banning "Terror TV" doesn't contradict free speech.
Dr Kamal El-Helbawy, the founder of the Muslim Association of Britain, told a discussion program that, while he condemned the killing of civilians, he believed all Israeli children were "future soldiers".
He said: "A child born in Israel is raised on the belief that the Arabs are like contemptible sheep.
"In elementary school they pose the following math problem - 'In your village, there are 100 Arabs. If you killed 40, how many Arabs would be left for you to kill?'. This is taught in the Israeli curriculum."
5:25 p.m. It never fails. An email purporting to feature graphic CNN footage from Gaza is really a phishing scam. CNet News explains:
When someone clicks on the video link on the fake CNN site, an error message pops up urging the visitor to download the latest version of Adobe Flash Player. Clicking on the download link installs an "SSL stealer" Trojan that captures financial and other sensitive information, RSA said in a blog.
5:04 p.m. To the anger of the ruling mullahs, Israel ain't deterred against Iran's allies and proxies, says Meir Javedanfar.
4:57 p.m.Michael Gove wonders about coverage of Sri Lanka, Congo Gaza. Where's the missing context?
Whatever view one takes of Israel's actions, either in moral or military terms, no proper judgment of this conflict is possible without context. And that is what so many seem to miss. Hamas is not a national liberation movement, it is not a force dedicated to establishing a free and democratic Palestine. It is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, a fundamentalist Islamist organisation which wants to unite the Islamic world in submission to its own, austere and totalitarian, view of Islam.
In all the reporting of events in Gaza how much attention has been paid to the ideology and history of Hamas, to the thinking of the Muslim Brotherhood's founder Hassan al-Banna and the preaching of Hamas leaders such as the late Sheikh Yassin? How much space has been given to analysing the Hamas covenant with its proclamation that the Jews were behind the French revolution and its prediction that 'The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight Jews and kill them.
4:21 p.m. So far, HonestReporting has delivered 5,000 of your messages to Israeli soldiers; at last count, we have another 13,000 more to go. Did you Send a Soldier a Smile yet? OMedia (in Hebrew) picks up on our campaign.
4:06 p.m. Facing the prospect of a nuclear Iran, Israel and moderate Arab regimes like Egypt, Jordan and the Saudis have been increasingly aligned; however, Newsweek columnist Fareed Zakaria takes note of a weakness which Iran is exploiting through the war in Gaza
This soft alliance has been encouraged and nurtured by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. But its weak point is Arab public opinion, and Iran has always understood this. Tehran's strategy to undermine this alliance is to signal to the Arab public that it is the chief defender of the Palestinian cause and so cannot be an enemy of the Arab people. The real enemy, Tehran signals to the Arabs, is their own regimes.
3:44 p.m. Gaza psychiatrist Eyad El-Sarraj tries explaining the war to his 14-year-old stepdaughter:
I told her about my 2006 meeting with Elliot Abrams, a Bush administration official, who said that his administration would not accept the results of the Palestinians' democratic election that Hamas had won.
Then Hamas was ready to form a government with the secular Fatah party and was ready to join the political community. Hamas was willing to evolve, much like Sinn Fein had done in Ireland or the African National Congress in South Africa.
The Irish and South African models don't apply to Hamas; the blockade of Gaza began when the Islamic fundamentalists refused to agree to three Israeli demands: recognize Israel's right to exist, renounce violence or honor previous Israel-PA agreements.
2:34 p.m.Wired, via Kfir Pravda, updates on the latest from the from the social media and cyber frontlines.
2:16 p.m. Your daily dose of moral equivalence, courtesy the Edmonton Sun.
But while the Israeli state might have succeeded in degrading Hamas' military capabilities in the past two weeks, it cannot plausibly argue that Operation Cast Lead has helped to bring a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians any closer. And such a settlement is, ultimately, the only way to deliver the true and lasting security that both peoples deserve.
Au contraire. A two-state solution is a non-starter as long as rejectionists like Hamas (backed by Iran) are entrenched in Gaza. Israel will never cut a peace deal with any Palestinian leader who rules the West Bank but not Gaza as well.
In fact, destroying (or at least crippling) a terror-group whose idea of a one state solution is an Islamic state from the Jordan to the Mediterranean (even the BBC decoded that) is a pre-requisite. Otherwise, Hamas and Iran are left in a position to block Israel-Palestinian reapprochment and moderates will remain cowed by the extremists. Which would leave us facing a three-state solution.
1:49 p.m. Speaking of humanitarian aid, Martin Peretz prompts our question of the day. After a UN worker delivering aid to Gaza was killed, the UN suspended deliveries. Why is it okay for the UN to suspend deliveries, while Israel, under constant barrages, is expected to continue deliveries?
1:29 p.m. Via Joel Pollak, someone tried to smuggle military uniforms in a humanitarian aid shipment.
12:58 p.m.NY Times reporter Taghreed El-Khodary gets a big, big thumbs-up for the following dialogue that took place in Shifa Hospital. He engages a Hamas gunman who ran in, demanding immediate medical treatment:
He was told that there were more serious cases than his, that he needed to wait. But he insisted. “We are fighting the Israelis,” he said. “When we fire we run, but they hit back so fast. We run into the houses to get away.” He continued smiling.
“Why are you so happy?” this reporter asked. “Look around you.”
A girl who looked about 18 screamed as a surgeon removed shrapnel from her leg. An elderly man was soaked in blood. A baby a few weeks old and slightly wounded looked around helplessly. A man lay with parts of his brain coming out. His family wailed at his side.
“Don’t you see that these people are hurting?” the militant was asked.
“But I am from the people, too,” he said, his smile incandescent. “They lost their loved ones as martyrs. They should be happy. I want to be a martyr, too.”
12:39 p.m. Contradiction of the day: LA Times says the glass is half-empty. Charles Krauthammer says the cup's full and will overflow if Israel's careful.
12:36 p.m. Israeli reporter Ron Ben-Yishai spent a day embedded with the IDF.
12:24 p.m. Alan Dershowitz outlines how Hamas uses civilian shields and the media to fight Israel. It's called The CNN Strategy:
The strategy is as simple as it is cynical: Provoke Israel by playing Russian roulette with its children, firing rockets at kindergartens, playgrounds and hospitals; hide behind its own civilians when firing at Israeli civilians; refuse to build bunkers for its own civilians; have TV cameras ready to transmit every image of dead Palestinians, especially children; exaggerate the number of civilians killed by including as "children" Hamas fighters who are 16 or 17 years old and as "women," female terrorists.
Hamas itself has a name for this. They call it "the CNN strategy" (this is not to criticize CNN or any other objective news source for doing its job; it is to criticize Hamas for exploiting the freedom of press which it forbids in Gaza). The CNN strategy is working because decent people all over the world are naturally sickened by images of dead and injured children. When they see such images repeatedly flashed across TV screens, they tend to react emotionally. Rather than asking why these children are dying and who is to blame for putting them in harm's way, average viewers, regardless of their political or ideological perspective, want to see the killing stopped.
In a separate LA Times commentary, Dershowitz notes that Hamas leaders know how to keep the CNN Strategy from boomeranging back on them.
The best proof of Hamas' media strategy of manipulating sympathy is the way it dealt with a rocket it fired the day before Israel's airstrikes began. The rocket fell short of its target in Israel and landed in Gaza, killing two young Palestinian girls. Hamas, which exercises total control of Gaza, censored any video coverage of those deaths. Although there were print reports, no one saw pictures of these two dead Palestinian children because they were killed by Palestinian rockets rather than by Israeli rockets. Hamas knows that pictures are more powerful than words.
12:18 p.m.Edward Luttwak says Hezbollah honcho Hassan Nasrallah left Hamas twisting in the wind:
Of course, none of this prevented the Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah from claiming that he had won a great victory for God. Had his victorious claims actually been true, Israel should have been deterred from attacking Hamas. And by his logic, Israel would have cowered in fear of thousands of more rockets from Hamas, and the even more powerful rockets that Hezbollah would launch in tandem. Nasrallah certainly encouraged Hamas to attack Israel in language that implied he would intervene if a war ensued -- a credible promise had he really won a victory in 2006.
But as soon as the fighting started in Gaza, Nasrallah reversed the terms of his declarations -- threatening Israel if it attacked Lebanon (which of course nobody in Israel would want to do). When three rockets were fired from inside Lebanon on Thursday, Hezbollah wasted no time assuring the Israelis that it had nothing to do with it, and that it did not even have that type of rocket in their inventory. This is a familiar trope of the Palestinian experience. There is always some extremist leader ready to instigate the Palestinians to fight, implicitly promising his valiant participation -- until the fighting begins and the promises are forgotten in fear of Israeli retaliation.
7:03 p.m. The IDF displayed to reporters a Hamas map it captured. The Jerusalem Post explains its significance:
Halamish said that the map showed how Hamas does not hesitate to use civilian infrastructure for its terrorist activity. On the map, a brown dot is marked next to a mosque representing a nearby sniper position.
"This is a civilian area and you can see on the map how Hamas booby-trapped the entrance to homes in order to hit the IDF," Halamish said. In another case, a large explosive device was marked on the map next to a gas station. Had it been detonated it would have likely destroyed the gas station as well, killing and wounding civilians who live in the area.
Because people who don’t ask a lot of hard questions allow themselves to be taken in by them. It happened here. And it is happening now in the Middle East. We used to talk in these parts about visiting commentators being seduced by the whiff of cordite. Never mind that the ‘freedom fighters’ exuding gun smoke and hype were murdering fascists whose main victims were their own community.
4:55 p.m.Newsweek notes the real reason Fatah wants international troops in Gaza:
Such a move could pave the way for Fatah security forces to return to power some months down the road, the thinking goes, when they would look less like Israeli stooges.
4:17 p.m. Dubai-based wonk mocks of the argument advanced by Hamas's apologists that the terror group deserves legitimacy for having been democratically elected. Sultan Al Qassemi writes:
Regardless of the outcome of the barbaric Israeli Operation Cast Lead, one thing is certain; it is high time for Hamas to step down as the keeper of Gaza. This is where people will object and remind us that they were democratically elected. My answer to that is: Yes, but they are incompetent.
Most of us in the Middle East still believe that incompetence is a trait exclusive to dictators such as Muammer Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein and Jamal Abdul Nasser. However modern history has proven that democracy and incompetent governance aren’t mutually exclusive.
To insist that Israel desist entirely from military activities that have a high probability of causing civilian casualties is doubly hypocritical. That would demand, in effect, that Israel value the lives of Palestinian civilians more than those of its own civilians, who are subject to rocket bombardment. That is something no state in the world can do, and it is silly to ask it. Israel has less reason than any other on Earth to heed such a demand. Never has the state of Israel been offered mercy by its enemies, nor has it any reason to expect it.
3:48 p.m. The LA Times surveyed Israeli media coverage of the fighting, understandably finding it isn't being reported the same as in the West.
As you read the piece, you'll see that the Israeli media is A) treating the fighting as a local story (imagine that), B) more responsible balancing carnage and context, and C) probably learned some lessons from the Lebanon war too.
Restore your optimism with a dose of (yesterday's) Wall St. Journal and call me in the morning. This prescription also applies to anyone who saw today's Boston Globe (coincidentally or not, owned by the NY Times).
3:22 p.m. Do my eyes deceive me? The Washington Post opened its eyes to Hamas human shield tactics:
Rather than stand and fight against the Middle East's strongest army, the Islamist movement opted for a tactical withdrawal, with its fighters melting away into the strip's sprawling cities and refugee camps, according to Gaza residents and Israeli military analysts and officers.
Now, Hamas appears to be daring the Israeli troops to follow.
"They're hitting here and there with antitank missiles and mortars. Overall, though, they're not confronting the Israeli presence in Gaza," said retired Gen. Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, former chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces. "They're challenging the Israeli military to enter the built-up areas." . . . .
Israel accuses Hamas of deliberately attacking from populated areas to drive up civilian casualty figures and stoke anger toward Israel in the Muslim world. But Hamas says it has little choice. There are no military bases in Gaza from which to fight, and the movement's members do not live apart from the rest of the population.
"They don't see themselves as being separate from the Palestinian people. They say, 'We're fighting among our people for our people's freedom,' " said Nassar Ibrahim, a Palestinian journalist based in Bethlehem who does not belong to Hamas.
3:02 p.m. Having explained Israel's P.R. a few days ago, BBC Paul Reynolds today decodes Hamas P.R. words:
And more generally, the word [occupier] means that Israel occupies all the land of Palestine. This, Hamas defines by the boundaries of the territory mandated by the League of Nations to Britain after World War I, minus the east bank of the Jordan that Britain sliced off to give to the Jordanian royal family and which is now Jordan.
So when Hamas talks about resisting the "occupier", it is not just talking about resistance in Gaza.
Its occasional references to a long-term "truce" also must be understood. For Hamas, this does not mean a proper peace agreement with Israel. It means a cessation of violence, which could perhaps last for years, but under which it holds its options open.
And when Hamas says it is ready to accept a Palestinian state within the borders as they existed before the war in 1967, it does not follow that it would accept those borders as the last word. It hopes to re-establish Palestine as it once was.
So there you have it: doubletalking terrorist spokesmen "decoded" by the BBC.
2:41 p.m. My heart goes out to the family of Mahmoud Mashrari (spelling?), a young boy killed in an airstrike. But his brother, Ashraf, a cameraman, films scenes at the hospital, home grieving and the funeral, like reality TV.
Is this a reflection of Palestinian stringers, the titillating nature of reality TV, or something else?
2:24 p.m. In an editorial about the Gaza fighting, Greek publisher George Karatzaferis calls Jews "Christ killers." Karatzaferis has previously claimed that no Jews died in the WTC.
1:56 p.m. AP correspondent Ibrahim Barzak's home was destroyed in an airstrike.
Three days after Israel began its airstrikes against Hamas militants on Dec. 27, my apartment building was shaken by bombs aimed at a nearby Hamas-run government compound . . .
There are other pictures that haunt me. The Israeli army issued a video of the bombing of the Hamas-run government compound, which it posted on YouTube. In it, I also can see my home being destroyed, and I watch it obsessively.
1:42 p.m. When the IDF's on the phone warning you to leave the building because its about to be attacked, the sensible thing to do is to A) flee or B) invite your friends to come over for a human shield party.
Israelis happily went shopping in the Gaza market and ate cheap meals at fish restaurants on the Gaza beach, while Gazans drove to Tel Aviv to work and to play. Fear was rare then and friendships were common . . . .
When Israel occupied Gaza in 1967, the relationship between Israelis and Gazans became one of occupier and occupied. But as far as daily life was concerned, the relationship was more one of amiable neighbors, even though Gaza was clearly the poor cousin.
My inbox is flooded with emails about our Send a Soldier a Smile campaign. 2,200 people have already clicked to send a message and cookies to Israeli soldiers. There's no cost to show your support. For those of you who already wrote, a) the cookies are kosher, and b) if you had technical problems submitting your message, our webmaster is working on the problem -- so click again if you tried before.
Come back to this post for updates throughout the day.
8:40 p.m. Out of time, out of coffee. Time to call it a day.
8:35 p.m. Just saw this Haaretz update. Will the Hamas "military wing" sign onto any cease fire its "politcal wing" agrees to? Could rocket fire become a purely administrative matter?
8:03 p.m. If rockets hit Tel Aviv, I wonder if the MSM will display any of the sympathy reserved for Gaza by nature of it's densely populated status. Worth asking because Mere Rhetoric via (Omri Ceren) notes that Tel Aviv's population density is actually higher than Gaza's.
6:43 p.m.Mike McNally sheds no tears for the MSM's lack of access to Gaza:
Israel should no more allow the press unfettered access to Gaza than it should allow a brigade of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards to fly into Gaza’s airport to reinforce their Hamas proteges. The last thing Israel needs is Christiane Amanpour, CNN’s resident apologist for radical Islam, wallowing in an emergency room full of wounded civilians, or BBC reporters weeping over the death of senior Hamas terrorists, as Barbara Plett wept for the dying Yasser Arafat.
And leaving aside issues of balance, the media has repeatedly shown itself to be susceptible to manipulation by the propaganda arms of terrorist organisations. Remember the Jenin “massacre” that wasn’t? Or the many examples of “fauxtography” and stage-managed incidents during the 2006 Lebanon war — a phenomenon that’s being repeated in Gaza? Hamas knows that while it has no chance of defeating Israel on the battlefield, it enjoys a distinct advantage in the arena of public opinion; combine a cynical opponent with a credulous media eager to believe the worst about Israel and you have the recipe for a public relations nightmare.
The Palestinian people do not get the leaders they deserve. Who could say, watching the father mourn five daughters, or limp, bloodstained children, that they do? They voted for Hamas to reject the corruption of Arafat's Fatah party, a logic of despair.
What they get now is a consequence of the misgovernment they have suffered and still suffer under Hamas - and even more despair.
6:10 p.m. This NY Daily News staff-ed about Hamas doesn't mince words.
Given no choice but to push in that direction, the Israeli military has done an extraordinary job of targeting Hamas fighters and arms in crowded environments - while holding down civilian casualties. It is up against demented enemies who sacrifice their own people.
5:28 p.m. There was another email asking media contact info. Time to head off these queries: Here's our Contact the Media Page.
5:24 p.m.Jeff Jacoby on the distinction between legitimate criticism and anti-Semitism:
Every negative comment about Israel is not an expression of bigotry. Israel is no more immune to criticism than any other country. But it takes willful blindness not to see that anti-Zionism today - opposition to the existence of Israel, rejection of the idea that the Jewish people are entitled to a state - is merely the old wine of anti-Semitism in its newest bottle.
One more thing, speaking of pornography -- we've all seen endless pictures of dead Palestinian children now. It's a terrible, ghastly, horrible thing, the deaths of children, and for the parents it doesn't matter if they were killed by accident or by mistake. But ask yourselves this: Why are these pictures so omnipresent? I'll tell you why, again from firsthand, and repeated, experience: Hamas (and the Aksa Brigades, and Islamic Jihad, the whole bunch) prevents the burial, or even preparation of the bodies for burial, until the bodies are used as props in the Palestinian Passion Play. Once, in Khan Younis, I actually saw gunmen unwrap a shrouded body, carry it a hundred yards and position it atop a pile of rubble -- and then wait a half-hour until photographers showed.
5:07 p.m. We just emailed today's HonestReporting communique to subscribers. No matter how I play with filters, I always wind up seeing auto-replies hit my inbox in real time.
5:01 p.m. Long after Pallywood propaganda went to town over the Gaza Beach affair, Haaretz reports this:
One of the girls in the family, Ilham Ghalia, who was hospitalized in Tel Aviv's Ichilov Hospital, told a story that was different from what Palestinian propaganda would have us believe: Her father caused the lethal explosion when he handled an unexploded ordnance left behind from a previous incident.
Decision makers in the government and IDF for some reason shelved her admission, which relieved Israel of blame.
As the world puts a spotlight on the shelling of a UN school, I hope Israeli spokesmen learn a lesson from this Gaza beach revelation. Less likely, however, is whether Palestinian sources or the MSM will too.
Since Palestinians made the fatal error of electing a radical Islamist organization over the corrupt devil that they knew, they doomed themselves to lives of crushing wretchedness. These are the consequences.
3:50 p.m. Just discovered that Ban Ki-moon condemned a rocket attack launched from UN school grounds last November.
3:44 p.m. The Canadian government blames Hamas for the UN school tragedy.
“We really don't have complete details yet, other than the fact that we know that Hamas has made a habit of using civilians and civilian infrastructure as shields for their terrorist activities, and that would seem to be the case again today,” he said in an interview.
He added: “In many ways, Hamas behaves as if they are trying to have more of their people killed to make a terrible terrorist point.”
3:03 p.m. In the context of his overall commentary, I'm not sure my reaction is the point Etgar Keret intended. After reading this snippet, I understood why the debate over proportionate response muddies the water:
Thus, it appears that the proportionality debate presents objective criteria for a situation that is essentially subjective, in which two contradictory narratives clash and neither side is prepared to include the other and its suffering.
Is there anything in the proportionality principle that can rationally justify killing of any kind?
Rather than deny that Israel's response to Hamas's rockets is disproportionate, Richard Cohen and I revel in it.
2:49 p.m. Nachman Shai tells the NY Times that Lebanon taught a powerful lesson about the restricted media access to Gaza today:
“This is the result of what happened in the 2006 Lebanon war against Hezbollah,” said Nachman Shai, a former army spokesman who is writing a doctoral dissertation on Israel’s public diplomacy. “Then, the media were everywhere. Their cameras and tapes picked up discussions between commanders. People talked on live television. It helped the enemy and confused and destabilized the home front. Today, Israel is trying to control the information much more closely.”
The government-commissioned investigation into the war with Hezbollah reported that the army had found that when reporters were allowed on the battlefield in Lebanon, they got in the way of military operations by posing risks and asking questions.
Reporter Steve Erlanger later acknowledges the point:
But no matter what, Israel’s diplomats know that if journalists are given a choice between covering death and covering context, death wins. So in a war that they consider necessary but poorly understood, they have decided to keep the news media far away from the death.
The notion that somehow it’s Israel’s desire, or in its long-term interest, to have 1.4 million hostile Gazans living across the border is nonsensical. In 2005, Israel pulled completely out of Gaza, hoping disengagement would eventually lead to peaceful co-existence. Critics point out that Israel has never completely relaxed its control over Gaza’s borders. Why would it, until it could be certain those organizations sworn to Israel’s destruction would not take advantage of the pullout to try to turn Gaza into an armed camp?
1:57 p.m. I'm afraid to ask if anyone could have published a nastier cartoon than what Michael Leunig penned for The Age.
1:51 p.m. This Memri blog post about Fatah and Hamas planning intifadas against each other has me wondering: If a Palestinian suicide bomber deliberately blows up other Palestinians, who gets the virgins?
1:34 p.m. The BBC lauds its two stringers in Gaza. I hope James Stephenson's assertion is true.
Hamas has not imposed any restrictions on their reporting and they have been a model of impeccable journalism, in terrible personal circumstances. Most of us go home when the story is over. Gaza is their home.
1:22 p.m. Israel and the Mohammed al-Dura affair for a breakdown in Palestinian society. Gaza's mental health experts shared the latest psychobabble with The Guardian:
The image of Mohammed al-Dura, the 12-year-old Gaza boy shot dead as his father vainly tried to protect him from Israeli gunfire at the beginning of the second intifada, is seared on the Palestinian consciousness. To many Palestinian adults it symbolises Israeli indifference to the lives of their children. But psychologists say that to many children its principal impact is to see a father who cannot protect his son.
With that - and humiliations such as Israeli soldiers beating Palestinian men in front of their children - has come a collapse in respect for the regular systems of authority.
The perpetual killing has also drawn many children into the cult of the "martyr" and led them to expect an early death.
Two residents of the area who spoke with The Associated Press by telephone said they saw a small group of militants firing mortar rounds from a street near the school, where 350 people had gathered to get away from the shelling. They spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.
12:45 p.m. Not pretty. Israeli tank shells destroyed a UN school. A few thoughts: It's part of Hamas's military doctorine to draw the the IDF into urban combat. We predicted on Monday that Hamas would put civilians in harm's way to capitalize on this kind of incident. They've been previously caught on film launching rockets from school grounds.
If you didn't this background info, what would you think of Israel? And more importantly, is MSM coverage including this background info?