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Israel and the Media
Hamas Rockets Most Deadly to Palestinian Civilians

In one of those cases where it’s hard to tell which is more newsworthy, the statement or the source, Amnesty International has come forth to condemn Hamas’s tactics during the last Gaza war. AFP reports:

In a damning report released Thursday, Amnesty International said Palestinian rocket fire during the 2014 summer war in Gaza had killed more civilians inside the Gaza Strip than inside Israel.

The comparison, of course, is not to “soldiers inside Israel,” because everyone knows Hamas’s unguided rockets are intended to target civilians. Furthermore, the low number of Israeli civilian casualties (6) is a product of Hamas’s lack of access to advanced technology and the efforts that Israel (and the United States) expend on the Iron Dome system. It’s certainly not due to lack of murderous intent on Hamas’s part: the terror group fired 4,591 rockets into Israel during that period.

According to the report, 197 of them fell short, and some of those killed Palestinian civilians. The numbers involved are both imprecise and relatively small, but those deaths were of significant international propaganda value at the time—for the Palestinians:

It referred to one particular incident on July 28 in which 13 people were killed in deadly blast inside the beach-side Shati refugee camp in Gaza City.

At the time, Palestinian witnesses blamed the attack on an Israeli F-16 warplane, but the army denied firing on the camp, accusing militants of misfiring their own rockets.

“In the deadliest incident believed to have been caused by a Palestinian armed group during the conflict, 13 Palestinian civilians –- 11 of them children –- were killed when a projectile exploded next to a supermarket in the crowded al-Shati refugee camp,” the report said.

Contrary to Palestinian claims that Israel was responsible, “an independent munitions expert who examined the available evidence on behalf of Amnesty International concluded that the projectile used in the attack was a Palestinian rocket,” it said.

We’ve written before of the central role the media plays in Hamas’s warfighting strategy. And in December, we examined former AP reporter Matti Friedman’s explosive and detailed allegations about the way in which the intersection of the “human rights” establishment and the media creates a pro-Palestinian focus (and significant blind spots) in coverage of the Israeli conflict. Given that, it’s heartening to see Amnesty International coming forward with this report—though we won’t hold our breath while waiting for its biases to disappear.

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  • Andrew Allison

    The penultimate sentence identifies the issue. The last one muddies it by referring specifically to Amnesty International, which has actually been pretty even-handed: https://www.amnesty.org/en/articles/news/2014/07/israelgaza-conflict-questions-and-answers/

  • http://www.larryseltzer.com/ Larry Seltzer

    The last graf of the article is in amusing conflict with itself: “[Philip Luther, director of the Middle East and North Africa program at Amnesty International] said Palestinian armed groups ‘must end all direct attacks on civilians’ and take all feasible precautions ‘to protect civilians in the Gaza Strip from the effects of such attacks” including storing weapons or letting militants operate “within or near densely populated areas.'” In other words they should stop attacking Israeli civilians. But if they don’t stop, they should make sure only Israeli civilians die.

  • JR

    I’m sure people who denounced Israel for this heinous attack against THE CHILDREN!!!!!!!! will be equally vocal in their denunciation of Hamas in 3…. 2…. 1……

    • Fred

      Ah but that’s different. Children of the Zionist entity are combatants by virtue of being born Jewish. Palestinian children, on the other hand are martyrs for the cause of freedom. No doubt they are in paradise as we speak.

  • Dan Greene

    Let’s look at the cited AFP text a bit more closely. Here’s the key sentence:

    “Contrary to Palestinian claims that Israel was responsible, “an independent munitions expert who examined the available evidence on behalf of Amnesty International concluded that the projectile used in the attack was a Palestinian rocket,” it said.”

    So in reality there was ONE incident of 13 Palestinians including 11 children being killed, and there is disagreement on whether it was ordnance from an F-16 or a Hamas rocket (or something else) that killed them. Notice how the article insinuates a widespread incidence of Palestinian fatalities from Hamas munitions by asserting that, “Palestinian rocket fire during the 2014 summer war in Gaza killed more civilians inside the Gaza Strip than inside Israel,” and then implying that the incident it discussed was merely ONE such occurrence among others: “It [the report] referred to one particular incident on July 28 in which 13 people were killed in deadly blast inside the beach-side Shati refugee camp in Gaza City.”

    In fact, this one incident is the only claim of Hamas munitions hitting Palestinians. But, more alarmingly, all we have to go on in deciding which of the claims is true is the assessment of one unidentified “independent munitions expert.” I wonder who he is and just how “independent” he really is. Why no identification?

    This story looks like a non-story cooked up by Israel-friendly Amnesty International with insufficient evidence to substantiate the main claim.

    But this problem is not exactly new:

    “University of Illinois professor of international law Francis Boyle, who was a member of the board of Amnesty International USA at the end of the 1980s/early 1990s, claims that Amnesty International USA acted in ways closely related to United States and United Kingdom foreign policy interests.[14][unreliable source?] He stated that Amnesty, along with other human rights organisations in the US, failed to criticise sufficiently the Sabra and Shatila Massacre in Lebanon.[1] Boyle stated his suspicion that the International Secretariat of Amnesty International, based geographically in London, UK, was also subject to this bias. He attributes the alleged links between Amnesty International and US and UK foreign policy interests to the relatively large financial contribution of Amnesty International USA to AI’s international budget, which he estimated at 20%.[1]”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Amnesty_International

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