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(photo credit: AP [file])
Jewish groups have accused the Guardian newspaper of marketing Hamas propaganda and constructing falsehoods, after three stories over two days accused Israel of perpetrating war crimes in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead.
In an article in Tuesday's Guardian, entitled "'Guardian' investigation uncovers evidence of alleged Israeli war crimes in Gaza," the newspaper claimed to have evidence that Israel had committed war crimes during the 22-day operation. The newspaper's Web site showed a video clip with file photos from 2007 depicting Israeli forces using human shields, and had three Gazan teenagers recounting how they had allegedly been used as human shields by the IDF during Operation Cast Lead.
"This is the newspaper that reported the massacre at Jenin, which turned out to be false, and said also that Israel was high in an international league table for its murder of journalists and then failed to properly correct this patent falsehood," said Jonathan Hoffman, co-vice chairman of the Zionist Federation of the UK. "It is the paper that tolerates anti-Semitic content in its blog 'Comment Is Free,' and indeed encourages it by its choice of contributors."
Of course, he added, "the IDF will carefully investigate this outrageous claim, and by the time it issues the denial, people will only remember the original allegation, and the Guardian will have moved on to the next carefully constructed falsehood. It's a pas de deux of truth versus mendacity, with apparently no end."
Hoffman questioned the clip's citation of an IDF magazine found in Gaza that allegedly showed Israeli forces using human shields.
"Now we are supposed to believe... that the IDF has an 'internal' magazine which all soldiers get, but which none of them must divulge, but which was left behind by a careless soldier in Gaza," he said.
The pro-Israel Web site ZioNation accused the newspaper of "marketing Pallywood propaganda."
"The Guardian has regrettably thrown all professional journalistic ethics and pretensions to balance and objectivity to the four winds, and has gleefully annexed itself to the cause of Hamas," said Ami Isseroff, chief editor of ZioNation.
In two articles on Monday, the Guardian accused Israel of deliberately firing on Palestinian medical staff and indiscriminate killing of Palestinian civilians with unmanned aerial vehicles.
"Medical staff and ambulance drivers who attempted to assist casualties of the Israeli invasion of Gaza have told the Guardian that they were attacked by Israeli forces while trying to carry out their job," the article said.
The story included a video clip in which Palestinian medical staff recounted their experiences. The clip noted that Israel was a "pioneer in precision weapons and a world leader in advanced optics," then asked why 38 medical workers were killed or wounded by Israeli forces during the Gaza conflict "when they had the technology to see exactly who they were hitting."
The second article said that Israeli drones killed a family of six, a group of girls in an empty street, two children in a field and "many others." It also claimed that an investigation the paper had carried out revealed that Israel had used a variety of weapons in "illegal ways."
"Indiscriminate munitions, including shells packed with white phosphorus, were fired into densely populated areas, while precision missiles and tank shells were fired into civilian homes. But it is the use of drones in the killing of at least 48 civilians that appears most reprehensible," the article said.
The reports were written by Clancy Chassay, a Guardian correspondent in Beirut. Chassay has produced eight video reports this month accusing Israel of war crimes.
The film clips were produced by Guardian Films, which says its aim is to "produce the kind of unique work that other broadcasters no longer have the network or resources to do."
In a letter the paper sent out to blog and Web site owners, calling for them to support its work, the Guardian said the Gaza film clips were meant to "add weight to calls this week for a full inquiry into the events surrounding Operation Cast Lead, which was aimed at Hamas, but which left over 1,400 Palestinians dead - around 300 known to be children."
Guardian Films then asked the bloggers to link to their "Gaza War Crimes" page.
"Whatever happened in Gaza, it ought not to be the business of the Guardian to appoint itself judge and juror and promote itself in this way," Isseroff said.
In response, the newspaper said that "we robustly reject the suggestion that the Guardian is being used as a mouthpiece for Hamas. Indeed, anyone who reads our front page story and our leader today will see that we make it clear that a case exists against them."
Regarding Chassay's report, the paper said he had "spent weeks on his investigation, and in the interests of fair reporting we gave the IDF every opportunity to reject these claims, and at the conclusion of the video we reported in full the written the statement they supplied."
The Israeli Embassy in London said it would issue a response on Wednesday.
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