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Eyeless in Gaza By: David Meir-Levi
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, May 24, 2004

From the folks who gave us "Jenin, Jenin":

Most of our western media refuse to publicize, and sometimes refuse even to publish, anything that would put the Palestinian Authority, and sometimes even Hamas, in a bad light.  So it should not be too surprising to see that our media accept uncritically, and sometimes even gleefully, the input their journalists get from PASSIA (the Palestinian Authority propaganda manufacturing office), without ever noting that this input is often wrong, and sometimes even deceitful.

This is certainly the case with the coverage of the IDF operations in Rafah.

Media coverage depicts the civilians as an orderly "demonstration" upon which the IDF fired without provocation, certainly a violation of international law, if not a crime against humanity.

While providing some limited quotes from IDF spokespersons about the need to enter Rafah to put a stop to arms smuggling via the tunnels, nowhere in the media do we learn that the urgency of this operation was due to the fact that terrorists in Rafah were trying to smuggle in Strela anti-aircraft missiles capable of shooting down civilian airliners.  Strela missiles from the Gaza strip could shoot down planes landing at Ben-Gurion airport.

Understanding the urgent need to prevent such a situation puts a new and very elucidating light upon the speed and size of the Israeli raid.

Our media also neglected to mention that a UN special envoy to the PA noted that "Palestinian gunmen (were) using a mob of civilians as cover". At least a dozen armed terrorists were scattered within this demonstration (*).

There were c. 3000 people about a mile from the IDF tanks.  A group of c.100 unexplainably separated from the main body and advanced toward the tanks.  The armed terrorists were in this group of 100.  Some were armed with anti-tank RPGs.  One hardly need wonder what their intent was.

Media coverage depicts the Israeli fire as either intentional or accidental, but in either case, striking innocents in the "demonstration".

But aerial video surveillance shows that an Israeli Apache gunship fired a warning missile into an EMPTY FIELD in order to deter the procession. When the mob continued to move on Israeli soldiers, field commanders, fearing a major assault on their troops by the RPG-bearing terrorists who were using the civilians as human shields, fired flares into the air.  When the mob still advanced on the tanks, the IDF directed machine gun fire and four tank shells at an ABANDONED BUILDING near the marchers.

A total of 10 people were killed and many more wounded, but the IDF spokesman said, after reviewing the surveillance tapes, that it seemed highly unlikely the casualties were caused by Israeli fire.

The army did note that the path taken by the mob was an area ".rigged with explosive charges planted by the Palestinians."

So it is quite possible that the carnage among the Palestinian civilians was caused by land mines planted by Palestinian terrorists to stop IDF advances.

But our media, and the UN, EU and much of the USA ignore this possibility. Instead of withholding judgment until an examination of video surveillance can be made, they instead swallow the knee-jerk assertion that Israel is massacring Palestinians.

Moreover, some, including the same aforementioned UN, claim that Israel is in violation of international law.

 This is false.  The Fourth Geneva Convention does not protect groups of civilians among which are dispersed armed combatants. "The presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations," reads Article 28. Rather it is the Palestinians who are guilty of a war crime by involving children and adult civilians in a violent confrontation.

Furthermore, Article 27 gives the "parties to the conflict" the flexibility to "take such measures of control and security in regard to protected persons as may be necessary as a result of the war."  In other words, IDF soldiers can defend themselves against Palestinian civilians if they deem doing so "necessary as a result of the war."

If taking such action is the direct result of armed terrorists using crowds of people as human shields so they can get closer to the tanks for more effective use of their RPGs, then those gunmen are directly responsible for any ensuing civilian casualties because they have committed the war crime, by violating Article 28.

 In a separate but related incident, two young Palestinians were killed on their rooftop in Tel Sultan (near Rafah, and a site for many tunnel outlets)(**).  One witness claimed that the children lay dying in their pool of blood for five hours because Israel had refused to allow ambulances to enter the area.  Another witness claimed that he went up to the roof as soon as he heard shots and found the children dead.  It could not have happened both ways.  Since western media did acknowledge that Israeli army medical units immediately entered the area to offer aid to the Palestinians wounded by the explosions, it seems unlikely that the IDF would have refused access to ambulances.

But, unfortunately, we have many examples of Palestinian accounts that do not match facts, but are uncritically accepted and widely disseminated by our media. In one of the most egregious examples, National Public Radio allowed dubious charges about Israeli brutality to go on the air unchallenged. On Oct. 9, 2000, Palestinian guest Osama Nizar charged: "the settlers killed one of the Palestinian young men. and amputated his hand and leg. Then they burned him and threw him away in the street." NPR reporter Jennifer Ludden embellished: "The man had broken bones and a smashed skull.

Israeli police suggested he'd been killed by Israeli soldiers, but eyewitnesses said it was Jewish settlers. The torture and murder outraged Palestinian leaders." An exhaustive investigative report by Physicians for Human Rights revealed the victim in question DIED IN A CAR ACCIDENT and not due to Israeli brutality. The PHR report never received media prominence.

With ghoulish Machiavellian glee, PASSIA and other Palestinian propaganda sources seize upon any possible incident to demonize Israel and create mendacious claims of Israeli wrong-doing.

They told us that Israeli forces killed little Mohammed ed-Dura, and wounded his father. A German review of the scene proved that it was Palestinian shooters that killed him, for the photo-op.

They told us that Israeli forces perpetrated massacre in Jenin.  The Red Cross and the UN proved that accusation to be a lie.

And now they are lying about Rafah.

When will the media learn?


(*) In support of the UN envoy's statement are the photos of the dead "civilians" wrapped in the black or green shrouds used by Hamas or Islamic Jihad for the honor burial of their terrorists.  Military burial is not confered upon civilians, so at least 6 of the "demonstrators" were Hamas or Islamic Jihad terrorists.

(**) Ironic footnote.  Tel Sultan is a housing development build by Israel so that the Palestinians in the Rafah refugee camps could leave the crowded and unsanitary conditions of the camps and move into more spacious housing, free of charge.

David Meir-Levi lectures in English, Hebrew, and Spanish and is a contributor to Frontpagemag.com.

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