THE LAST week has seen thousands of articles on Israel’s bombardment of Hamas in
Gaza. While coverage of Israel’s campaign to reduce Hamas’s capability to rein
in terror on Israel appears slightly more balanced than the way it was in 2009,
there are still quite a number of instances of nonfactual or negligent reporting
by major news outlets and journalists.
According to the Committee for
Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, NPR’s Leila Fadel raises the false
charge of Israel targeting journalists. She states that Israel “struck a media
building,” without noting that the equipment Israel hit belonged to Hamas’s
Al-Aksa TV and Al-Quds TV.
The Los Angeles Times described a slain top
Islamic Jihad Fighter as a “journalist.”
A number of reporters were
caught tweeting false information. BBC’s Wyre Davies falsely tweeted that of the
13 Palestinians killed in Operation Pillar of Defense, nearly all were
Davies’s colleague, Jon Donnison, retweeted a photo of a dead
Syrian child, presenting it as a photo of a child from Gaza.
dead Syrian children are spreading across the Web, made to look like they are
victims of Israel’s defensive measures in Gaza.
Clayton Swisher of
al-Jazeera tweeted that Palestinian rocket attacks at Israeli civilians were
legal under the laws of war.
As Honest Reporting points out on its
website, last Friday, a four-year-old boy was killed by what many news outlets
including Reuters, AP and AFP, considered an Israeli strike. In fact, evidence
at the scene points to an errant Hamas rocket. Even the Palestinian Center for
Human Rights admitted it believed that the explosion had been caused by a
Less than 24 hours after her youngest son’s death,
Esmat Sadallah, Muhammad’s mother, admitted he may have been struck by a rocket
fired by Palestinian terrorists.
The BBC showed an unverified video of an
injured man suddenly recovering – and then refused to acknowledge its own lousy
WITH ALL the misleading information out there, there
are many facts about the true nature of Hamas that are being spread and credit
needs to go where it is due.
Jeffrey Goldberg deserves credit for his
article in The New York Times
entitled “The Strange Obsession With Proportional
Body Counts,” in which he argues against an editorial that claims the body count
in Israel and Gaza is unequal. “The casualty count is lopsided, but why?” he
writes. “A couple of reasons: Hamas rockets are inaccurate; Israel’s Iron Dome
anti-missile system is working well. But the Israeli body count isn’t low
because Hamas is trying to minimize Israeli casualties. Quite the opposite:
Hamas’s intention is to kill as many Israelis as possible. Without vigilance,
and luck, and without active attempts by the Israel Air Force to destroy rocket
launchers before they can be used, the Israeli body count would be much
In another article, entitled “Seven Truths about Israel, Hamas
and Violence” Goldberg writes, “there is no long-term military solution for
Israel, short of turning Gaza into Chechnya or Dresden.”
And he’s right.
There’s no way to talk about proportionality without talking about the British
bombing of Dresden in response to the London Blitz, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and
even the 2002 Moscow Theater Crisis in which Russian forces killed approximately
120 civilians to reach Chechen terrorists holed up in a theater in
Today, it is Syria that should be drawing
Approximately 40,000 civilians have been killed so far and
hundreds more are killed each day.
Alan Dershowitz, writing in The Wall
Street Journal in January 2009, emphasized that “proportionality is not measured
by the number of civilians actually killed, but rather by the risk posed. This
is illustrated by what happened... when a Hamas rocket hit a kindergarten in
Beer Sheva, though no students were there at the time. Under international law,
Israel is not required to allow Hamas to play Russian roulette with its
“Until the world recognizes that Hamas is committing
three war crimes – targeting Israeli civilians, using Palestinian civilians as
human shields, and seeking the destruction of a member state of the United
Nations – and that Israel is acting in selfdefense and out of military
necessity, the conflict will continue.”
Indeed, the International
Committee of the Red Cross deals with proportionality in detail.
“Launching an attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian
life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof,
which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military
advantage anticipated, is prohibited.”
“The principle of proportionality
in attack is codified in Article 51(5)(b) of Additional Protocol I, and repeated
in Article 57. At the Diplomatic Conference leading to the adoption of the
Additional Protocols, France voted against Article 51 because it deemed that
paragraph 5 by its ‘very complexity would seriously hamper the conduct of
defensive military operations against an invader and prejudice the inherent
right of legitimate defence.’ Interesting. Israel finds itself in this very
The ICRC states, “upon ratification of Additional Protocol I,
Australia and New Zealand stated that they interpreted the term ‘concrete and
direct military advantage anticipated’ as meaning that there is a bona fide
expectation that the attack would make a relevant and proportional contribution
to the objective of the military attack involved. According to the Commentary on
the Additional Protocols, the expression ‘concrete and direct’ military
advantage was used in order to indicate that the advantage must be ‘substantial
and relatively close, and that advantages which are hardly perceptible and those
which would only appear in the long term should be disregarded.’ It seems safe
to say that Israel’s campaign against Hamas carries obvious short- and long-term
benefits and the advantages are highly perceptible.
CITIZENS TODAY are
more aware of world events thanks to social media. Citizen journalism has now
become important as it further allows the spreading of truth and largely
bypasses biased media outlets.
Dan Hodges deserves credit for his article
in The Telegraph in which he writes, “If the IRA were firing a few rockets or
mortars at us, would we start bombing the Falls Road? Yes. We
Matthew Lee of the Associated Press gets a special shout-out for
for challenging US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland on the reasons
the US kept quiet instead of defending Israel against Turkey’s accusations that
Israel is a “terrorist state.”
Lee apparently got them thinking, since
the State Department reportedly passed on a message to the Turks that their
“extremely harsh” rhetoric in accusing Israel of terrorism in its current
military operations in Gaza, is “unhelpful.”
Israel’s friends and foes
alike have said that a Gaza invasion would lead to a loss of support for the
campaign and delegitimacy for its cause.
Say what? So it’s okay for
Israel to defend itself – but not too much? A number of international leaders
have cautioned that they would not support a ground offensive. UN
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hinted to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that
it could be illegal under international law.
Netanyahu said that Hamas
was committing a “double war crime, by indiscriminately targeting Israeli
civilians while they hide behind their own.
“The moment we draw symmetry
between the victims of terror and the unintended casualties that result from
legitimate military action against the terrorists – the minute that false
symmetry is drawn, the terrorists win,” he said.
No matter what happens,
foreign governments must be made to understand this. Israel’s future depends on
its ability to stand up to pressure and fight for what is right. Citizen
journalists can surely assist and the last few days have proven that diligence
online is not only useful, but influential in spreading the truth.