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Sunday, January 20, 2008


More Israeli war crimes, more media complicity

On Friday, this was how one of the latest Israeli actions was described:
Israel bombed the Hamas-run Interior Ministry in Gaza
News reports described the building as "empty at the time," but did note that "one woman was killed and at least 30 others nearby were wounded."

It turns out, though, that there was more to the story, which is now making its way into some papers, though certainly not into the broadcast media:

The building, in a residential neighborhood flanked by the apartments of well-to-do residents, had been empty since it was severely damaged in a July 2006 airstrike.
So the building wasn't just "unoccupied," but "unused," and it wasn't the "Hamas-run Interior Ministry," but an building formerly used (and still owned) by the Interior Ministry. And, not only that, but a building located in a "residential neighborhood," where, as it turns out, a wedding was in progress:
An Israeli warplane attacked the downtown offices of the Palestinian Interior Ministry, flattening one wing of the empty building, killing a woman at a wedding party next door and wounding at least 46 other civilians, some of them children playing soccer in the street, hospital staff and witnesses said.
And why was this building attacked? Evidently it was not a military target, since it was an unused building. No, it was an act of pure terrorism - "sending a message" through bombing:
Even though it was unoccupied, it was seen as a symbol of Hamas authority.
But it isn't just me who says so, it's a U.N. official, who correctly described the Israeli actions as war crimes:
A United Nations official in Geneva on Saturday condemned Israel's actions, particularly the bombing on Friday of an empty Hamas Interior Ministry building in a Gaza City neighborhood. Shrapnel from the missile strike killed a woman and wounded up to 46 people, some of them children, who were celebrating at a wedding party next door.

The official, John Dugard, who works on human rights in the Palestinian territories, said the Israelis who were responsible "for such cowardly action" resulting in civilian casualties "are guilty of serious war crimes and should be prosecuted and punished for their crimes." He said that the attack on the building "near a wedding party venue" was carried out "with what must have been foreseen loss of life and injury to many civilians."
And where did I read Dugard's statement? Of the major media, only in the New York Times, but even there, the Times does not acquit itself well. The headline to the article reads "Israeli Airstrike in Gaza Kills 2 Hamas Members," and not until well in the article do we read that a U.N. official has leveled the rather serious charge of "war crimes" against Israel, rather a more newsworthy item than the death of yet two more Palestinians at Israeli hands. Talk about burying the lead! Also known as complicity.

As an aside, the Israelis are still describing this building, unused for more than a year and a half, as "a Hamas headquarters."

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