I haven’t posted during the current conflict between Israel and Hamas because, to be honest, I have been seriously concerned about the safety all friends and family there which has somewhat paralysed my interest in writing.
The other problem has been that I just have not had the time to make any considered assessment when so many others are doing such a good job.
The situation changes so fast that the best medium to follow has been Twitter and that has been an invaluable and fascinating resource which, at times, made me feel that I was almost there. Except I do not have to run to a shelter every few minutes and have my life made a misery for years.
As I travel toward London where I hope to take part in the annual AJEX (Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen) parade for the first time, it brought home to me the experiences of my mother during the London Blitz. She knows well what it is like to be under constant threat of being bombed or at the receiving end of a V1 or V2. Although what has been happening to Israelis in the south for years is not the Blitz, there are certain similarities.
Can you remember the last country to be subject to a constant rain of rockets? I don’t think it has happened since the V2 attacks on England in the 1940′s.
So I thought I’d try to put some context into this conflict, a context which is sadly missing from almost all news reports.
If you are a regular reader I probably don’t have to convince you of what I am about to write, but please disseminate widely if you agree. There are still many out there who simply, and understandably, accept everything the media, and especially the TV and Internet news media tell them.
What has been particularly striking over the past week is the reporting behaviour of the television and Internet media of the major news outlets and newspapers.
The BBC, in particular, has developed a culture of what it would consider to be good news reporting. This is an attempt NOT to be biased but to simply report what it sees and to deal with both sides ln the conflict evenhandedly.
This is an admirable approach, except when it comes to dealing with a terrorist group it amounts to naivety, ignorance and moral equivalence on a scale that undermines the entire reporting enterprise. By falling over itself to be ‘fair’ it often involves accepting the lies of Hamas and its supporters, treating a genocidal, fanatical, Islamist fascist regime as being trustworthy and distorting history and chronology as well as misinterpreting the root causes of this particular conflict.
The extent of the moral blindness this attitude can imbue is starkly revealed by a report
on the BBC news website which actually challenges both the main Twitter account of Hamas and the IDF spokesperson and postulating that both are guilty of a breach of Twitter’s rules by encouraging violence.
On Thursday, [the Al Qassam Brigade] posted a YouTube video purportedly showing the launch of a Fajr 5 missile towards Tel Aviv for the first time.
In its turn, the IDF tweeted a link to a video purportedly showing an Israeli air force attack on a “rocket warehouse in #Gaza”, on day two of its “Pillar of Defense” operation.
Al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, has also been using Twitter to get its message across.
The use of social media to announce and comment on military operations, almost in real time, is a significant departure for the social networking platform.
And it potentially brings the warring parties into conflict with Twitter’s own rules, which state: “Violence and Threats: You may not publish or post direct, specific threats of violence against others.”
This is frankly ridiculous on two counts: firstly, once again, there is the moral equivalence between a terror organisation committing a war crime every time it launches a rocket, and the target of those rockets. Secondly, the IDF spokesperson is providing what could be life-saving information to Israelis as well as propaganda. The Hamas account belongs to a terror group and should be banned for that reason alone. It’s also telling lies.
So now for the context which makes this moral equivalence so reprehensible.
All too many commentators and, indeed, those who are disposed to be against Israel, consider and describe the conflict as if it were between two nations in a dispute over territory. I am talking specifically about Gaza, not the Palestinian controlled areas of the West Bank.
These same observers are also too easily duped by the lie that Israel ‘occupies’ Gaza and assume it does so for some malign reason to suppress and punish the people of Gaza for the perceived crimes of Hamas.
Israel evacuated Gaza in 2005 even before which rockets or mortars were being fired into Israel.
Prime Minister Sharon took the painful step of forcibly evicting Israelis and abandoning towns and synagogues and even exhuming the dead and repatriating to Israel.
The Israelis left behind billions of dollars worth of agricultural equipment which could have kick-started the Gazan economy. This resource was vandalised by locals more interested in using it for spare parts and other resources than creating a viable economy.
The Israeli largesse was soon repaid.
When Israel left there were no blockades, no embargoes on goods allowed through, no drones, no army, no closures. Gaza was free as its supporters now wish it to be, as they shout it at rallies across the world.
Then in 2006 after a vicious internecine war with Fatah where Hamas executed dozens of its political opponents by summary firing squads or throwing off tall buildings, Hamas won a ‘democratic’ election.
Hamas apologists are keen to point out that Hamas are the democratically elected representatives of the people of Gaza. During the London riots I was tweeting about Hamas, can’t remember why, when none other than Yvonne Ridley, doyenne of the pro-Palestine movement in the UK, tweeted to me claiming just this, that Hamas were the democratically elected government of Gaza. When I challenged her as to when their next elections would be, she got rather evasive and said it would be as soon as they had dealt with the Israelis, or something similar.
So Hamas are not democrats. Their election would not meet the standards of the civilised world or even the uncivilised. They allow no opposition, no free press. free speech, freedom of association. They kill gays, repress women, murder opponents without trial. They are, in fact, the incarnation of evil.
So don’t confuse a democratic election with democracy. Hitler was democratically elected, as I told Yvonne. She said she did not deny this without conceding the point.
Soon after their ‘election’ Hamas began a campaign of firing rockets into Israel. Since 2000, well before they came to power, they have fired about 12,000. This rocket fire has been intermittent. Sometimes several in a day, sometimes none for several days. It was rocket fire which precipitated Cast Lead in 2008.
Hamas have also sent suicide bombers into Israel, fired artillery shells at school buses, fired at IDF soldiers across the border, packed tunnels under the border with explosives and IEDs and, notoriously, took Gilad Shalt hostage for 5 years.
Israel’s forbearance did not last. Hamas were importing and manufacturing a huge cache of arms after 2006. Why? There was no occupation. They were free. Israel allowed in all that was necessary. Israel provided gas and electricity, as it still does.
So why the rockets?
Hamas’s charter clearly states their goals. They are an extreme jihadi, Islamist organisation whose raison d’être is to ‘end the occupation’. This is not the occupation of Gaza or even the occupation of the West Bank, but all Israel. They consider Israel to be illegitimate and that all the land, from the river to the sea, is Arab Muslim. Their role is to liberate it using any means possible.
But their aims don’t stop there. They are a virulently anti-Semitic group. They do not want a one state solution with Jews living harmoniously with Arabs and Muslims, they want to kill every last Jew in Israel – AND THE WORLD.
Don’t believe me? Read their charter Do read it. This is an absolutist, rejectionist movement which is a death cult.
Hamas have no regard for international law, although it puts up a vague pretence in front of Western cameras. It has no regard for human rights. It has no regard for human life. It abuses its children dressing them in jihadi ninja outfits replete with suicide belts and assault rifles and rocket launchers.
It indoctrinates its children into hatred and the need to shed Jewish blood.
This is the organisation in support of which demonstrators will often say, ‘We are all Hamas now’.
Hamas have been pounding southern Israel for years. Leading up to the targetted killing of a senior Hamas figure last year, I had been tweeting for days and written an article about the online #stoptherockets hashtag. The rockets did not come as a result of the killing, the killing and subsequent offensive was after many years of intolerable rocket fire from Gaza. Rocket fire which had escalated to an extent before the killing which forced Israel to act.
When those commenting on Israel’s actions caution restraint, where were they when the rockets were falling like rain on Ashkelon, Beersheva, Ashdod, Sderot and other towns and cities in southern Israel? How would you like to live under that barrage delivered by an implacable enemy not defending itself but carrying out the objectives of its own charter. A charter which seeks the destruction of Israel.
Hamas, affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood, supplied by Iran, financed by – well, partly by you and me if you are in the EU.
So how can anyone fail to see that it is Israel,who are the victims of aggression, not the other way round. the blockade, the embargo, the fence around Gaza, the controlled crossings are all of Hamas’s making.
Yet, despite this, Israel continues to provide power, humanitarian aid, treatment in Israeli hospitals for the people of Gaza who are also victims of the obscene and vicious death cult named Hamas.
I say nothing of the lies and falsely reported images coming from Hamas during the conflict. I say nothing of their evasive interviews which never answer direct questions.
Remember. Hamas fire from schools, hospitals, residential area. They stockpile munitions in mosques and bedrooms. Every time they fire a rocket from a residential area towards Israel they commit two patent war crimes. Yet no-one calls them out for this. The opposite; they receive support from national governments and organisations across the world.
NGO’s which say nothing about rockets fired at Israel are always apoplectic as soon as Israel responds.
Yet I detect things are changing. The UK, many European countries, the USA and even Ban Ki Moon himself seem to realise that Hamas are the aggressors. Whilst asking Israel to show restraint, something they never asked Hamas to do, they nevertheless clearly recognise the sequence of cause and effect here and they know that to ask Israel not to react would be utter hypocrisy.
Maybe you can now understand the background a little better.
My train is about to pull in to London.
See you later.
Since the beginning of the week dozens of rockets have been launched from the Gaza Strip into Israel in a significant ramping up of the usual barely (if at all) reported regular barrage that penetrates southern Israeli cities towns and rural communities. On Tuesday an IDF officer was critically wounded in attack near the Gaza border.
On Twitter and in Israeli newspapers and other online media and websites this barrage was big news. Israel employed its Iron Dome defence system which is only partially effective in protecting large conurbations far enough away from launch sites. Typically Israelis have 15 seconds to get to shelters once the sirens sound.
Then two farm workers near Kissufim were badly injured by rocket fire.
On the BBC and its website what was the reaction for at least two days? We are talking about the world’s most respected news service, allegedly.
Nothing. Zip, Nada. Goor nisht.
I and friends online came to the conclusion that the BBC would not report this until Israel responded and that the headline would imply that Israel was the aggressor.
Sure enough, yesterday, Israel did respond and the BBC’s own response was immediate; there it was on the website’s World and Middle East pages with “Militants killed in Gaza strike’.
BBCWatch have been assiduously reporting this timeline and you can see their reports at BBCwatch.org
That report seems to have disappeared (actually buried and changed here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-20054554) and been replaced with a more balanced one ‘Israel and Hamas ‘negotiate unofficial truce’ in Gaza’
I’m sure the original is somewhere in the BBC archive but I would hazard a guess they had several complaints about it and updated it. This is typical. A piece appears with a headline reversing cause and effect; the body of the piece often contradicts the headline and draws some moral equivalence between unprovoked attacks on civilian targets by Hamas or Gaza-based ‘militants’ and Israel’s response to prevent further attacks by targeting those about to fire or those who it knows have already done so.
Today we now have two very different pieces from the BBC. The one about the truce at last puts the horse before the cart:
Five have been injured in Israel since rocket attacks began on Monday.
Israel retaliated with air strikes on Gaza City, killing at least six militants.
On Wednesday, more than 70 rockets were launched into southern Israel, injuring five people, two critically, according to the Israeli military.
In response, Israeli aircraft and tanks targeted rocket-launching sites in northern Gaza.
Hamas’s military wing, the Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades, confirmed it had been involved in firing dozens of rockets and mortars into Israel.
In a statement, the Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades and a smaller Gaza-based militant group, the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), said: “These holy missions come in response to the repeated, continuous crimes of the enemy against our people.”
But should we not have a headline at some point during this timeline which says ‘Five Israelis critically injured by rockets from Gaza‘ or ‘Israel responds to escalation of attacks in the South‘?
I’m sure we could all write a better, more balanced headline than the ones being spewed out from the BBC Mid-East desk.
Now, if you have any doubts about the level of moral degradation that the BBC’s reporting of this conflict has now reached you only have to look at the report by Jon Donnison who appears to be following in the illustrious footsteps of Jeremy Bowen and Barbara Plett reaching new heights of ignorance and moral bankruptcy.
Please be careful. This reports contains graphic examples of the BBC’s egregious attempts at what it calls ‘balance’ but is simply either bias, stupidity or moral decrepitude. (There was, apparently, an even worse report by Donnison last night which I have not been able to source yet)
Here’s the link in all its emetic glory. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-20073219
The text below the video:
Mourners in the Gaza Strip have buried four Palestinian militants killed in Israeli air strikes over the past two days.
Israel said the militants were hit as they prepared to fire rockets into southern Israel.
It says at least 60 rockets and mortar shells have landed on its territory, seriously injuring three people. Schools have been closed on both sides of the border for fear of more attacks.
Ah – ‘Israel said’ – in other words we should not believe the Israelis but swallow whole anything emanating from terrorist-occupied Gaza.
And ‘schools have been closed both sides of the border‘ just to emphasise that same old moral equivalence. If schools have been closed in Gaza then it’s a precaution not normally offered to its children when rockets are launched from them. Or maybe it’s a good idea to close these schools to demonstrate to the BBC in particular how they protect their children. Or maybe Eid has something to do with it?
In the report Donnison does not show us hundreds of thousands of Israelis cowering in bomb shelters but the funeral of ‘militants’ killed by Israeli air strikes, and quoties Hamas. He leaves out the fact that this was after dozens of rockets hit Israel. We see mourning relatives and Gazans taking cover but absolutely nothing about Israelis.
These reports do tell us what actually happened if you care to decipher the text and remove the veneer of ‘balance’ but it certainly takes a strong solvent and an even stronger stomach.
The blatant misreporting and misrepresentation of Israel’s self-defensive action against rocket fire from Gaza continues to be a national disgrace.
There’s something very rotten in the State of the BBC’s Middle East desk on its news website.
Only today did the continuing murderous barrage of southern Israel which puts a million lives at risk, not to mention property and treasure, actually make it to the website’s home page. Although even that small mention now seems to have disappeared.
And what was the headline to direct us to this sudden escalation in rocket fire from Gaza which has seen over 200 missiles launched since Friday? Was it “Miltitants in Gaza launch rocket barrage against southern Israel’?
Not bloody likely. This is the BBC, remember and they seem only interested, for the sake of balance, of course, to highlight Israel’s response in defence of its citizens.
‘Israel launches fresh airstrikes on Gaza’
This was the disgusting headline.
“Israeli (sic) says almost 100 rockets fired from Gaza have struck Israel since the exchange of fire began.”
Subtle, no? Israel ‘says’ – after all, you take what Israel ‘says’ with a strong dose of scepticism, no? And ‘since the exchange of fire’. Thus, in a sentence, neutralising and sanitising the assault on Israel and characterising it as morally equivalent that Israel’s fire, in response to the rockets, is somehow a justification for the rocket fire from the Gaza side. So, once again, cause and response are turned on their head.
In fact, the report lies and implies that Israel is responsible for the escalation:
“The latest flare-up began on Friday when an Israeli air strike on a car in Gaza City killed militant commander Zohair al-Qaisi, secretary general of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), and two of his associates.”
What it does not mention is that al-Qaisi was plotting a terrorist attack. When the British or Americans take out terrorist leaders in Afghanistan that is justified but because the BBC is ‘neutral’ about the Israel-Palestine conflict and terrorists are ‘activists’ or ‘militants’, taking them out is an ‘escalation’ not a defensive act.
The Arab League, which has proved useless in preventing the horrors in Homs in Syria, characterised the 15 deaths of terrorists and rocket firers as a ‘massacre’. I wonder what the minimum number of Palestinians is to be called a ‘massacre’ ? 5? 10? In Syria it appears to be several hundred. Are innocent Syrian lives worth so much less than Palestinian militants in the debased arithmetic of the Arab world?
And just to show how even-handed the BBC is, what picture do they show us? The school in Beersheva hit by a rocket? No, they show us the results of an airstrike on Rafah where one person was killed.
UN spokesman Richard Miron called the situation in Gaza “very fragile and unsustainable”.
“We deplore the fact that civilians are once again paying the price,” he said.
I wonder whose civilians he means? Could it be the 1 million Israelis who are indiscriminately targeted by rockets and mortars? Or those in Gaza who are unfortunate enough to pay the price for the actions of groups who care nothing for the safety of their own fellow citizens? Maybe he means both? But I doubt it.
And whilst Israel closes its schools (and it’s lucky it did, as one rocket hit a school in Beersheva as I mentioned above) to protect its children, in Gaza, no doubt as has always been the case, schoolyards and hospitals, mosques and residential areas are used as bases for rocket launchers with the callous, deliberate and cynical hope that Israel will strike and injure or kill ‘martyrs’ and bring opprobrium on itself.
It is instructive to muse what would be the situation if Israel were Syria and Netanyahu Assad. What response would there be to hundreds of rockets aimed at civilians? Israel’s restraint is in gross contrast to Assad’s brutal massacre of his own people. Indeed, as the rockets rained down, Israel was discussing how to continue to deliver humanitarian aid through its crossings.
Assad, lays a real siege to his own people cutting off electricity and starving the populace whilst Israel feeds its enemies and provides them with the wherewithal to live.
Yet, no doubt, sooner or later, the UN will be stirring itself to condemn Israel for defending itself
On Tuesday the Israel Defense Force (IDF) released a video in black and white, using night vision and taken by an unmanned drone.
The video followed a series of explosions in a residential area near Tyre in Southern Lebanon.
The video clearly shows rockets being transferred by truck from the site of the explosion to another location.
UN Security Council Resolution 1701 forbids arms to be brought into Southern Lebanon following the war between Israel and Hizbullah in 2006.
Today the Jerusalem Post has a story about Hizbullah’s release of a video taken on the ground and showing a similar exercise to that witnessed by the Israeli drone but claiming that the objects being moved were metal posts.
Just as the Palestinians have a wonderful film industry which fabricates evidence against Israel on a regular basis, Hizbullah now appear to be bidding for their place at the Cannes Film Festival.
Why would anyone take a video of metal posts and doors (so they also claim) being moved?
Why is the film taken in the daytime when the drone video was at night?
Why are there UNIFIL soldiers in the Hizbullah video and not not the IDF video?
The very fact of this blatant fabrication is an indicator of guilt.
Now the Lebanese want to report the IDF to the UN for breaching 1701! If Israel witnesses explosions of munitions in an area which is supposed to be free of munitions it has a right to investigate. And what does it find? Hizbullah are stashing rockets which can reach many parts of Israel.
And what does the UN do? Nothing. What does the pathetic Lebanese government do? Nothing. No international outrage. Nothing. Well no change there then. Just continue pillorying Israel for defending itself.
BBC headline today: "Fresh violence shakes Gaza Strip" What are they reporting? It’s an Israeli retaliatory attack for several rockets fired into the Western Negev Sunday and today. So why wasn’t the headline "Fresh rocket attacks on Israel".
Hamas’ attacks and those of other groups in Gaza (who call themselves by a variety of names so they can claim that Hamas did not violate the cease fire) are never reported UNLESS Israel responds and then it’s headlines of this sort we always see subtly implying that all violence is from one side in response to rockets that, by pure chance and not by intention, cause no Israeli casualties.