BBC Middle East editor Paul Danahar happened to be on hand in Gaza for the opening of Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012. When the son of Danahar’s BBC Gaza colleague Jihad Masharawi was killed at the outset of the operation, Danahar all but accused Israel of murder. Via his Twitter account @pdanahar, Danahar tweeted his reaction to young Masharawi’s death: “Questioned [sic] asked here is: if Israel can kill a man riding on a moving motorbike (as they did last month) how did Jihad’s son get killed?” As a result of coverage afforded the incident by the BBC, the Washington Post and all the usual media suspects, the death of the young Masharawi allegedly at the hands of Israel created an international sensation.
Reasonable grounds existed to doubt Israel’s responsibility at the time, and we raised them here. Danahar’s own photo of Masharawi’s house after it was hit by the munition that killed Masharawi’s son strongly suggested all by itself that no Israeli munition did the damage. On the contrary, it suggested that an errant Hamas rocket killed Masharawi’s son.
Months later a UN report arrived at this conclusion. The Washington Post then sheepishly posted an “editor’s note” explaining why its own stories on the incident had misfired and erroneously blamed Israel. Adam Kredo picked up on it in the Washington Free Beacon article here.
By this time the question of responsibility had become the preserve of obsessives and cranks. I established myself as a charter member of the club in the Power Line series “Tools of jihad.” I thought the resolution of the story in March 2013 was a huge development because it provided a clear window opening onto the Terrorist Theater that Islamist forces routinely employ to advance the cause with the cooperation of the mainstream media.
This year’s model is the story involving the death of 15 or 16 Gazans at a UN school (or “school,” or weapons depot) earlier this week, according, as in this Time report, to “officials.” Television reports have routinely attributed the fault to Israel, although the published accounts that I find online include Israel’s questioning of responsibility somewhere in the story. Perhaps Israel is doing a better job on the public relations front this time around, or we are making some slight progress with the media.
CNN’s online account notes in paragraph five that it is unclear who was behind the incident, but the accompanying ITN video shows Terrorist Theater in full force and CNN performing its accustomed role as purveyor. As I noted here, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer powerfully raised the question with CNN’s Erin Burnett on Thursday. You can see for yourself in the video at the link what Ambassador Dermer was exercised about. Below is shorter ITN report found on YouTube to the same effect. It is pure propaganda. Terrorist Theater has resumed.
The media stories omit Hamas’s comprehensive use of civilians, schools, mosques and houses for military purposes (including the Hamas missiles that mysteriously appeared in two UN schools this week). If Israel’s forces misfired and hit the UN school, this is fine with Hamas; their tactics (as well as their initiation of the war) should be accorded ultimate responsibility. The media stories also omit Hamas’s instructions on shaping casualty figures for the purposes of Hamas propaganda. See MEMRI’s highly illuminating report on the subject.
Follow-up stories on the UN school incident include the Haaretz/AP analysis “Source of Gaza attack on UNRWA school remains unclear” and the National Post’s “A ‘high chance’ shell that hit school, killing 15, was shot by Hamas: Israeli defense official.” The truth will emerge with the assistance of the Israeli military in due course. In the meantime, extreme caution should be employed in consuming mainstream media reports emanating from Gaza and relying on Gaza “officials,” i.e., Hamas.