May 02, 2008

Another Gaza Media Moment

Three days ago, I contacted Associated Press Director of Media Relations Paul Colford, asking him about photos taken by AP photographer Khalil Hamra, in Beit Lahiya, a town in the northern Gaza Strip, on Monday, April 28, 2008.

The caption for one Hamra photo read as follows, without a hint of uncertainty:

A Palestinian woman reacts as she stands next to a house hit by an Israeli shell that killed a mother and her four children, in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, Monday, April 28, 2008. An Israeli tank shell slammed into a tiny Gaza Strip home on Monday, killing a Palestinian woman and four of her children as they prepared to sit down for breakfast, officials and relatives said.

I asked Mr. Colford to "please acquire the other photos Mr. Hamra shot outside that home and send them to me... I should be able to tell which account is true by the simple differences between blast signatures of HEAT rounds used by Israel tanks impacting buildings, and the kind of blast that would be consistent with the Israeli account of a gunman carrying explosives that detonated." Responding via email, Mr Colford suggested I should acquire the images somewhere else. It was a polite brush-off.

But the story told with such apparent certainty by Associated Press photographer Hamra and apparently deemed insignificant by Colford was never as certain as the media tried to make it sound.

An Israeli military inquiry into the incident has concluded that the family was indeed killed by a Palestinian militant's explosives detonating. Tank shells were not fired into the home, a fact neither side now alledges. According to the IDF, a single airborne missile was fired from a drone at a cluster of four armed militants. How small was the missile? According to these video stills from an al Jazeera story, showing the missile's impact point, quite small.

The "crater" according to al Jazeera.
A bemused civilian inspects the same missile "crater" as the reporter moves away.

Al Jazeera repeats Palestianian claims a that second missile was fired by the Israelis, but the visual evidence of the missile strike is not very convincing.

An alleged second missile "crater" outside the family home, estimated to be four inches deep.

As Noah Pollak pointed out in his Commentary story Factless in Gaza, "There is a deeper problem here:the manner in which news is gathered from Gaza, which has been inhospitable territory for western journalists for quite some time (remember what happened to Alan Johnston?). News organizations like the AP and Reuters rely, for their on-the-ground Gaza coverage, on Palestinian reporters and stringers whose objectivity and professionalism, to put it charitably, are in doubt."

Adnan Hajj was by far the most obvious example of dishonest journalism by the Palestianian media as he manipulated images he sold to Reuters, but the facts are that very essence of news reporting in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon are conducted primarily by reporters with a deep and personal interest in the stories they are reporting, often under the direction of terrorist groups that are not above "suggesting" stories and guiding media coverage with the barrel of a gun.

Internationally respected news organizations such as Reuters, AFP the Associated Press, and the BBC have proven themselves time and again to be very susceptible to being manipulated by agenda-driven journalists and photographers. Moreover, they seem not to care very much about passing along staged photos and biased information as long as it allows them to publish something. They the news organizations will likely never admit it, hating Israel is big media business, and stories alleging that Israeli military forces are killing innocent Palestinians sell very well in the global media market.

As a result, initial reporting of this incident squarely places the blame for the blast on the Israeli military, without seriously looking for any other possible cause. It is both a business decision (these kinds of stories sell) and a practical one (unbiased reporting is not allowed by militant media handlers that guide and spy upon reporters and photographers).

That armed militants were moving among civilian homes for cover is never mentioned, and their argument that "it couldn't have been our explosives, because I have some pictures of some explosives that didn't blow up right over here" is readily digested with a degree of acceptance because there is no viable alternative.

Truly, truth is not an option.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at May 2, 2008 09:43 AM

Iraq is as misreported as Israel and Palestine. I have less and less faith in the MSM every time I hear the AP quote an unnamed "doctor" from a sadr controlled hospital in Sadr city regarding "at least" X civilians killed including "at least" why Y children.

Posted by: grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr at May 2, 2008 09:31 AM

Why would the Israelis fire a HEAT shell (High Explosive Anti Tank) when the Palestinians have no tanks or other armoured vehicles, or armoured protection of any kind?

Posted by: Max at May 2, 2008 09:58 AM

To take out buildings, Max. It is a multi-purpose munition.

Posted by: Pablo at May 2, 2008 10:16 AM

Well why were they trying to destroy the building (a civilian house, not a military target)? You can't launch a rocket or a mortar from inside a house.

Posted by: Max at May 2, 2008 10:24 AM

Yes you can, Max. You can also snipe from one and set off an IED from one. Doing any of the above is considered a war crime, FYI. Hasn't stopped any Palestinian in the past, though.

Posted by: DaveP. at May 2, 2008 10:45 AM

If you actual bother to you know, read the articles and watch the video, you'll not neither side was claiming the building was targeted. The Israelis insist that only one rocket was fired a group of armed militants. The Palestinian and Arab news accounts claim a second missile was fired, which is their way of explaining how the blast occurred.

I suspect that the most likely story is that the bag of munitions was hit by shrapnel during the initial strike, and then was tossed, still smoldering, into the alley where it detonated outside the shack, killing the family.

And yes, Max you can launch rockets, mortars, and missiles from inside of and on top of structures, though I fail to see how that is relevant.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at May 2, 2008 10:47 AM

I saw a photo of three of the kids being placed in the hospital morgue. The injuries to two were not apparent from the photo. But one of the little girls, whose upper body was uncovered, had three deep wounds clearly visible. All were approximately the same size, maybe three-four inches long.

I would guess that she was killed by flechettes, rather than improvised explosives. The Israelis admit that they use flechette shells in Gaza. In fact, they used one earlier in the month to kill a Reuters cameraman, along with five others (some were children).

But hey, they did kill a gunman along with that family! So it's a ratio of five civilians to one terrorist. Is this acceptable? Well, I don't think the IDF will be losing any sleep over it.

Posted by: Max at May 2, 2008 10:55 AM

That's a brilliant theory there, Max, except for a few small problems.

  1. no flechettes were fired
  2. no flechettes were recovered
  3. fletchettes don't cause blast craters, even small ones
  4. no one on either side claimed flechettes were used
  5. the wounds you describe are not consistent with fletchette wounds

Other than that, great work.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at May 2, 2008 11:04 AM

Respectfully, regarding points 1-5, above:
1. You can't prove this without access to IDF records
2 Prove it
3. Prove it
4. So?
5. Prove it

Consider also amending your online bio to include "IDF ordnance expert and board certified forensic pathologist."

Posted by: Craig at May 2, 2008 11:41 AM

OK, maybe it wasn't flechettes. Regardless of the weapons used, the result is the same - a dead Palestinian family. My main point is that it's so easy for the Israelis to kill Palestinians, because of their firepower, they really don't care very much if they kill civilians. In just five days last February, the Israelis killed 107 Palestinians in Gaza, of which at least 52 were civilians not involved in fighting. Three Israelis (one civilian) were killed.

Every country has a right to defend itself, but when it uses its power in such a fashion and kills such a high percentage of non-combatants, it only stores up more trouble for itself.

I know that most contributors here regard the Palestinians as evil incarnate anyway, and deserve what they get, so in that sense I know I'm wasting my time explaining this. But as long as Israel uses this iron fist, it will never know peace. Of course, I guess that suits the IDF top brass just fine.

Posted by: Max at May 2, 2008 11:51 AM
Regardless of the weapons used, the result is the same - a dead Palestinian family.

Right, by way of a Palestinian own goal.

My main point is that it's so easy for the Israelis to kill Palestinians, because of their firepower, they really don't care very much if they kill civilians.

Your point would work better if
1. the Israelis had done the killing in this case

2. the Palestinians didn't specifically target civilians and strive for their deaths when they attack.

One would think it wise not to attack people who seriously outgun you.

Posted by: Pablo at May 2, 2008 12:01 PM

So Max, you would give any terrorist a pass as long as they were hiding amongst "civilians"? Any supposed military force that used civilian human shields must be removed with all the care that a US police force exercises when recovering hostages?

And all this while the opposing force:
1. targets civilians preferentially
2. refuses to adhere to any laws of war (e.g. not use ambulances to transport troops, wear identifiable clothing, etc., etc.?)

Following your guidelines, the Israeli's would be "dead but right", while the arab terrorists would have engaged in regrettable but ultimately understandable excesses.

Too bad the Israeli's won't just all die to satisfy your flawed and self-indulgent moral certitude.

Posted by: iconoclast at May 2, 2008 12:07 PM
Well why were they trying to destroy the building (a civilian house, not a military target)?

They weren't, and they didn't, in this case. But they do use the weapon, and if a civilian house is being used as a firing position, or a weapons depot or for any other military purpose, it is a military target and a HEAT round blows stuff up.

Posted by: Pablo at May 2, 2008 12:09 PM
My main point is that it's so easy for the Israelis to kill Palestinians, because of their firepower, they really don't care very much if they kill civilians.

Max, you're a terrorist apologist... we get that.

What you seem far too daft to grasp however, is the simply fact that if Israel wanted Gaza emptied of Palestinian lives, it could unquestionably do so though either military force, an economic blockade, or by simply cutting off the lights.

Reality, however, shows us something quite different. It shows us an Israeli government with a special terrorist targeting group that specializes in locating and targeting terrorist leaders, and goes through great pains to minimize Palestinian civilian loses. IMI has even gone so far as to develop weapons systems to minimize civilian casualties.

The Isreali power company is the only group of utility workers regularly targeted by their customers, and yet, they continue to go out every day and supply power, repairing the lines the Palestinians damage at night.

Where does Gaza get its food and medicine? Israel again.

Israel cares a great deal about the loss of innocent life. they've shown it time and again. You're simply a shameless shill.

You cling to terrorists born into and thriving on hate, who continually renounce peace, who dream of genocide, and who purposefully target Israeli civilians for death with rockets and mortars. These munitions are characteristically smuggled into, stored, and fired from Palestinian civilian neighborhoods with the blessing of that population, even that by doing so, the civilians are willingly exposed to counterbattery fire.

No sir, it is only the Palestinians who do not care about innocent life. Theirs is a culture predicated on hate and martyrdom. You of course, will not admit that.

Why don't you run along now... if you're lucky, you might be able to catch their new Holocaust denial film.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at May 2, 2008 12:44 PM

I don't know why Israel is so patient with the Palestinians anyway. I give Israel great credit for not blowing the whole damn mess off the face of the earth and be done with it. Instead they hold back, give concession after concession and it get them nothing back in return, but ignorance and accusations and more of their own civilians killed. The Palestinians entire existence seems to be predicated on causing worldwide hate and violence and then whining about it. Israel turns the desert into a productive land, the Palestinians take billions of dollars and do nothing but wreak more havoc. They're a canker on the world.

Posted by: Sara at May 2, 2008 01:18 PM

What I cannot fathom are the terrorist apologists and supporters like Craig and Max? Are they simply brain-dead, pollyanna people who cannot understand "why we cannot all just get along"? Or are they actually convinced that the liberal, post-Enlightenment West is the great evil oppressing native peoples who just want to conduct their ethnic cleansing, misogyny, and tribal-tyranny without being disturbed?

Posted by: iconoclast at May 2, 2008 01:25 PM

Wow, drink much Kool-Aid? It's pretty funny seeing y'all tripping over yourselves to swear allegiance and defend the honor of a foreign country. A foreign country with its own interests that are not aligned with ours, and that regularly spies on us and steals our secrets. You guys are true patriots.

Posted by: Craig at May 2, 2008 01:46 PM

Why do you hate facts, Craig?

Posted by: Pablo at May 2, 2008 02:22 PM

Craig, your reading comprehension ranks right down there with your knowledge of history and common sense. No one swore allegiance to Israel. As for defending the honor of Israel, I guess we recognize an important ally when we see a free, democratic state with whom we have many important economic and political ties.

But I guess all that went over your head, since your head is so clearly embedded in the ground--or somewhere else more personal.

Posted by: iconoclast at May 2, 2008 02:46 PM

I absolutely love it when the brain trust of the left, here in the person of Craig and Max, attempt to comment on military matters. They expose their total cluelessness for all to see.

Craig - You obviously don't understand how this works. You have demonstrated that you have no credibility here. CY, particularly on military matters does. He has nothing to prove. It is up to you to disprove the claims he makes, retard. His stand on their own. Good luck.

Posted by: daleyrocks at May 2, 2008 02:59 PM

Why do they hate facts? Is it facts they hate or are they just flaming antisemites who despise Jews and agree they should be exterminated? I vote the latter.

Posted by: Sara at May 2, 2008 03:44 PM

I don't know Sara. I tend to think it is just an adolescent love of rebellion against the "System" that motivates them. Over and over again they (people like Craig and Max) demonstrate that their own desires and general anger completely fog things like facts, understanding and history. I don't think they suffer as much from bigotry as much as a sophomoric self-indulgence and wishful thinking.

After all, it is hard to imagine why any American, after seeing Arabs in Gaza and West Bank dancing in celebration of 9/11, after seeing repeated mass homicides specifically targeting the most innocent and helpless, and after seeing the misogyny, tyranny and outright Nazi behavior of the Pali "government" can possibly think that our cultural, political, and economic future is tied to them rather than Israel.

Posted by: iconoclast at May 2, 2008 04:17 PM

You may be right, iconoclast. How sad.

Posted by: Sara at May 2, 2008 05:04 PM

I see Craig and his buddy Max are still at it, trying to spin everything we or Israel do as evil.

Tell ya what, you two dimwits, if America is sooooooooooooooo terrible, why don't ya leave? Airplane tickets out of the country are easy to get. Maybe go down to Venezuela and hobnob with your buddy Chavez. Or over to Iran where they have the same view of Israel that you two seem to have.

I bet that makes you proud, having the same opinion of Israel that Ahmadinnerjacket has.

Posted by: C-C-G at May 2, 2008 07:07 PM

That's awesome, C-C-G, keep it up. You and (the ironically named) Iconoclast just further prove my point.

Posted by: Craig at May 2, 2008 08:40 PM

And what point would that be, Craig?

Are you referring to the point that we believe that we should protect our allies?

My, my, what a radical idea. Protecting our allies.

Only a lefty could consider protecting our allies to be a Bad Thing.

Posted by: C-C-G at May 2, 2008 09:25 PM


according to the likes of Craig, the USA should only defend those who hate and despise us, since it is our fault that they do.


weak, dude. very, very weak. keep messing up those ad hominem attacks and they will ban you from DU.

Posted by: iconoclast at May 2, 2008 11:28 PM

Who else but Israel would invent a missile that leaves a crater the size of teacup?

Doesn't sound too bloodthirsty or uncaring of collateral damage to me.

On the other hand, which people deliberately target unarmed civilians with bombs that contain shrapnel to cause horrible wounds, human feces to cause infection, and rat poison that serves as an anticoagulant so the victim bleeds out?

Which side dances in the street, sings, laughs, and passes out candy when its shrapnel-, feces-, and rat-poison human bombs go off?

Which side literally stomps people to death in the streets, tearing their bodies limb from limb like hungry sharks? Go to Getty Images and see for yourself. Which side murders its daughters when they look at the wrong person?

The Israelis are up against living relics of the ninth century, ancient life forms with no mercy, no morals, and no humanity. Whatever Israel does to defend itself is okay by me.

Oo, how Kool-aideish of me.

Posted by: Tom W. at May 3, 2008 01:51 AM

What is DU?

Posted by: Craig at May 3, 2008 08:50 AM

As all clear thinking people know it was just another "Palestinian work accident."

Posted by: Capitalist Infidel at May 3, 2008 12:47 PM

Personally, when you consider that for 1/4 the cost of a Kindle, I got a Palm Centro smartphone that reads e-books as well as does a lot of other things, I'd consider a Kindle a waste of money.

I'll consider buying one when they're $40, not $400.

Posted by: C-C-G at May 3, 2008 03:30 PM

I usually steer clear of Israel-Palestine debates. But I just think it needs to be pointed out that not all Palestinians in Gaza support the destruction if Israel and targeting civilians. Some support a peaceful end to this conflict. From all these "ancient forms of life" comments, I just thought someone should point that out.

Posted by: Juan Manuel de Rosas at May 3, 2008 05:03 PM

DU could be Depleted Uranium, which is extremely dense but not very radioactive ("Depleted", dig?) and is used for airplane balancing weights, elevator counterweights, and in armor-piercing shells.

It could also be 'Democratic Underground', a web community populated by people of approximately the same density as the above entry.

Posted by: DaveP. at May 3, 2008 08:51 PM

DaveP, nice.

That sums up the description of DU on _both_ accounts.

Posted by: steve miller at May 4, 2008 07:29 AM

Thanks, DaveP.

Posted by: Craig at May 4, 2008 12:23 PM

Craig would fit right in at DU. Which is why I can't quite bring myself to believe he was ignorant of its existence.

By the way, please ignore my way off-topic post above... meant to put it in the thread where CY was asking about the Amazon Kindle. That's what I get for trying to deal with three different Firefox tabs at once.

Posted by: C-C-G at May 4, 2008 07:42 PM

Back to the topic at hand, in case anyone is wondering what the truth really is the IDF has video proof of their assertion. The Palestinian terrorists were carrying explosives that then detonated. When will liberals stop believing the lying Palestinians?

Posted by: Capitalist Infidel at May 5, 2008 07:35 AM

Unfortunately, the Paliwood Paligandists seem to be outwitting Israel everywhere on the international stage.

Moreover, the Arabs-Muslims have attrited Israeli security. In 1967, Israel put Arab arms far from its borders; now Israel proper is under attack from south, north, and east.

I worry the Arabs are winning the long-term war.

Posted by: Pro-Israeli at May 5, 2008 08:54 AM