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Media Rubble in Gaza

Media Rubble in Gaza

Israel wipes out a most-wanted terrorist. Is the media reporting the whole story?


This week, Israel struck a major blow in the war against terror with the killing of Salah Shehadeh in Gaza, operative head of the U.S.-certified terrorist group, Hamas. (See an interview with Shehadeh.)

As Palestinian civilians were killed and wounded, newspapers like the Hartford Courant and San Jose Mercury News outrageously likened the Israeli action to the same type of "terrorism" that Hamas uses.

While the loss of innocent life is always regrettable, it is important for the media to give the full context of Israel's actions.

(1) Shehadeh operated from a heavily populated neighborhood, precisely because he knew the civilians would serve as a human shield against any Israeli attempt to assassinate him.

Writing in the NY Post ("Hamas Kills Its Own" - July 24, 2002), John Podhoretz declares that responsibility for the civilian casualties lies with the dead terrorist himself. Podhoretz explains:

The Fourth Geneva Convention goes into great and elaborate detail about how to assign fault when military activities take place in civilian areas... Hamas is at war with Israel. But instead of separating themselves from the general population in military camps and wearing uniforms, as required by international law, Hamas members and other Palestinian terrorists try to use civilians – the "protected persons" mentioned in [The Fourth Geneva Convention] 3:1:28 – as living camouflage. To prevent such a thing from happening, international law explicitly gives Israel the right to conduct military operations against military targets under these circumstances.

(2) Israel proved in Jenin that whenever possible, it will go to great lengths to minimize civilians casualties – even at the expense of it's own soldiers. In Gaza, such a house-to-house operation was not possible, and would have likely resulted in a far greater number of casualties on both sides. (The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel naively writes that Shehadeh could have been arrested like Barghouti and put on trial.)

The Chicago Sun Times ("Hamas to blame for civilian deaths" - July 24) writes:

Israel says it had scheduled the attack on Hamas terror mastermind Salah Shehadeh three times before Tuesday but postponed it because of fears of civilian casualties. When the bombing was carried out, said Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, 'the information we had was that there were no civilians near him."

Israel's enemies and those who always think the worst about the Jewish state reject these claims out of hand. But given Israel's record of trying to avoid civilian casualties, such as the decision not to use air strikes in the assault on the terrorist cesspool in Jenin – and remember all the Palestinian claims of a Jenin massacre that turned out to be totally bogus? – we think there's good reason to believe the Israelis.

Another defense of the Israeli action comes from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

The Israeli attack on Shehadeh was more justified than the American attack. The Israeli operation was careful enough to actually kill the enemy who was the target. By contrast, the United States still doesn't have a coherent story about why it dropped a bomb on the wedding party. A New York Times report this week suggests that the United States has killed hundreds of innocent civilians on a number of occasions because of unreliable information about potential targets.

Military operations are always designed to minimize one's own casualties. In the Gulf War against Iraq in 1990, the American military claimed that nearly 100,000 Iraqis died, compared to American losses of approximately 225. In the American war against Al Queda, thousands of the enemy have died along with an estimated 700 civilians – compared to American combat losses of less than 50 (80 percent of which are from accidents or "friendly" fire).

As U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said: "This is a war that has been forced upon us by terrorists... We are making great efforts not to hurt civilians, but if civilians are hurt, the entire responsibility for such is upon the terrorists who use them as cover..."

(3) The media quotes Palestinian sources that the killing of Shehadeh spoiled an agreement that had nearly been reached to stop Palestinian attacks against Israeli civilians. Yet in an interview with CNN's Jim Clancy, Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erakat said he had no information about who was involved in these negotiations.

Meanwhile, a senior Israeli source told Maariv that,

The Tanzim were not preparing any cease-fire, and the Hamas were not involved in any such contacts. These claims are fabrications and part of Palestinian psychological warfare." And just two days before Shehadeh's killing, Maariv published a call by Arafat's Fatah movement to continue the attacks: "We call on all groups... to increase their armed activities against targets of the military occupation."

Putting these rumors into perspective, The Times of London wrote:

The proposal floated would not have ended attacks on Israeli soldiers, did not bear the signatures of any Palestinian leaders and comes after all too many protestations of peace more honoured in the breach than the observance. Above all, the ceasefire offer did not have the backing of Hamas, the organisation led by the intended target of Monday night's attack, Salah Shehade. Given his record, and that of his organisation, the likelihood of any cessation of hostilities from Hamas seems wildly improbable.

(4) The media claims that Israel's action will provoke additional acts of revenge by Hamas. Is this any different from these groups' position before the Shehada killing? Hamas has been operating for months at a high frequency of attacks – including the Tel Aviv disco, the Sbarro pizzeria, the Moment cafe, the Passover seder – and is constantly boasting of "thousands ready for martyrdom." If anything, the killing of Shehadeh places a major obstacle to Hamas' terror operations.

In a breech of journalistic ethics, BBC's James Reynolds seems to be encouraging Hamas retaliation, as he describes less the Palestinian mood and more of his own personal thoughts: "There is a feeling that Palestinian militant groups need to do something to avenge the deaths of those killed in this latest Israeli strike."

(5) While the media presents Shehadeh's wife as an innocent victim, a photo of Shehadeh and his wife in Time Magazine shows her in full military gear, holding an assault rifle. After seeing this image, it is difficult to categorize his wife's death as regrettable collateral damage.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Ralph Peters ("Civilian Casualties: No Apology Needed" - July 25) declares:

This is not about diplomatic table manners. It is a fight to exterminate human monsters... Terrorists and their supporters must learn that they will be allowed no hiding places. Not in their homes, not in churches or mosques, and not in foreign countries to which they might flee. This is a war that must be fought without compromise...

(6) International hypocrisy is running high. The same cacophony of voices that denounced the (non)-"massacre" in Jenin, is jumping to criticize Israel again. But why are Palestinian terrorists allowed to target civilians without exciting an international outcry, while every accidental civilian death inflicted by Israel is a crime against humanity?

The Times of London puts the battle against Hamas into perspective:

Hamas is a fundamentalist Islamic group which has never recognised Israel's right to exist. It has prosecuted its war without any moral restraint. Its terrorists have not been merely careless but have deliberately targeted civilians, exploding bombs in circumstances designed to maximise the number of innocent men, women and children killed... Hamas is not interested in negotiation or accommodation with the Jewish state, simply its extermination.

July 27, 2002

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Visitor Comments: 10

(8) Anonymous, July 30, 2002 12:00 AM


It is a good thing to remove evil from our midst but I wonder what a good solution would be to end this war. Consider that for every terrorist that is killed another one takes his place. That leads to some alternatives, some of which are not acceptable. The first leads to genocide in which you remove the possibility of anyone replacing the terrorist. (The solution to Amalek) The second is giving in to all demands by the opposition in total defeat. ( The solution of Shimon Perez) The third is trying to find a middle ground where the opposition stops replacing the terrorists (nice but not a practical solution since with any defensive posture increases the resolve of the opposition) The real solution is submitting the problem to HaShem and returning to the tradition that guarantees not only our survival but also our success and living safely in our own land.

(7) Anonymous, July 30, 2002 12:00 AM

Bad Public Relations

As a staunch supporter of Israel, I have to say that I find it hard to believe that dropping a 1-ton bomb at night on one of the most densely populated places on the face of the earth is not going to cause civilian casualties. If Israel had said that they knew that civilians might be killed, but they had good reasons to take this action, and then laid out the case for these actions, perhaps world reaction would have been different. The same public relations error was comitted regarding the "massacre" in Jenin. By first saying that Israel has nothing to hide, and virtually inviting the UN to send what would undoubtedly be a biased investigation, and then refusing to allow the UN in, made Israel look bad again. If they had invited a commission of US and EU representatives, they might have had a chance of a balanced report without the public relations debacle that we had. How can a bunch of people who are so smart be so stupid?

spk truth, November 18, 2012 4:30 PM

Israel inviting the muslim and christian world against them.

Richard Falk a (jewish man) wrote the truth in the Goldstone report. Right now around the world good jewish people are marching with protestors condemning what Israel has done in Gaza and the West Bank. Israel was given a mandate with borders...they never stayed inside those borders. Look at any map in 1948 Palestine and look at what zionist Israel has stolen and you ask why the world is opposed to Israel and its apartheid nation. Yes its is apartheid and the world knows it. Cable news in the US along with corporate owned newspapers are always biased & stand with zionists no matter what. There is the internet, there are alternative media who are getting the reports out and LIVE streaming the truth. israel is its own worst enemy. Change the leadership, get rid of Bibi who many in Israel say is mentally unstable. Get a real government in place that will do a real two state solution and end this horror.

Vienna938, November 23, 2012 9:46 AM

There is no solution to unjustified hate.

The Hamas did not come out of thin air - the people of Gaza elected them knowing full well that they are a murderous, implacable and cruel bunch of terrorists. By what civilized standards of justice do they merit the same kind of sympathy as the Jewish children who are the constant victims of their incessant aggression?? The concept of proportionality is totally inapplicable in this situation. It is degrading for mature and intelligent people to even contemplate it. Ask the Israeli boy who was 8 years old a couple of years ago who had half his brain blown away from an incoming missile from Gaza - there was no warning (no leaflet falling from the sky, no retaliation by Israel). And the world is constantly putting blame on Israel, pushing them into a corner, make concessions and more concessions. Those critics should take a good look at the map of the entire Mideast, and compare the land area populated by Arabs and the ridiculously small, truncated land mass of Israel - now THERE is a case of proportionality to ponder! THE NEXT STEP should be time spent in the library - the Old Testament, Josephus, the Greek occupation, the brutal Roman occupation who all wanted to destroy Jewish sovereignty, and freedom of religious expression and values to protect the dignity of man. Until the Romans came there was no independent country known as Palestine and there were no Palestinian People.Calling Judea and Sumaria Palestine was the final act of the Romans in their war against the Jews. They were driven from THEIR land, the Holy Temple destroyed, the land destroyed. Although there was always a Jewish presence there, it was not until the pioneering Zionists returned and began to rebuild and cultivate the land. Tel Aviv did not exist until the turn of the 20th century!!! The Turks occupied this land then which was mostly desert and to some degree still is. The most painful and sorrowful spectacle should be the misguided Jews who bought into this Pal state

(6) Gil Stamberger, July 30, 2002 12:00 AM

You do it again

In order to receive objective information on what has happened in Gazah and why the killing of innocent Palestinian civilians is a terroristic act it is enough to check the Israeli media which cannot be accused of antisemitism or biased reporting : read and you get it all. Your comments are simply rubbish and you know it. Disgraceful ! The fact remains that the Israeli army had no problems in dropping a 1 ton bomb in a densely populated area in one of the most crowded places on this planet. They knew that innocent civilians would be killed. This is an act as evil as any suicide bombing of Hamas terrorists.

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