Sunday, January 25, 2009

Some Honest Reporting


As more foreign journalists gain access to Gaza, different viewpoints from the default attacks on Israel are starting to emerge.

Newsweek talked to gunmen who admitted using a hospital for firing at Israel:

One of the most notorious incidents during the war was the Jan. 15 shelling of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society buildings in the downtown Tal-al Hawa part of Gaza City, followed by a shell hitting their Al Quds Hospital next door; the subsequent fire forced all 500 patients to be evacuated . . . In the Tal-al Hawa neighborhood nearby, however, Talal Safadi, an official in the leftist
Palestinian People's Party, said that resistance fighters were firing from positions all around the hospital. He shrugged that off, having a bigger beef with Hamas.

"They failed to win the battle."

Daily Telegraph correspondent Tim Butcher returned to Gaza for the first time since the war:

I knew Gaza well before the attacks, so when Israel ended its ban on foreign journalists reaching Gaza on the day the ceasefire was announced, I was able to see for myself.One thing was clear. Gaza City 2009 is not Stalingrad 1944. There had been no carpet bombing of large areas, no firebombing of complete suburbs.

Targets had been selected and then hit, often several times, but almost always with precision munitions. Buildings nearby had been damaged and there had been some clear mistakes, like the firebombing of the UN aid headquarters. But, in most the cases, I saw the primary target had borne the brunt. ...But, for the most part, I was struck by how cosmetically unchanged Gaza appeared to be. It has been a tatty, poorly-maintained mess for decades and the presence of fresh bombsites on streets already lined with broken kerbstones and jerry-built buildings did not make any great difference.

Source 1
Source 2


galia said...

For "honest" you forgot that:

Source 1

"The most notorious of attacks killing civilians was the bombing of a UNRWA-run school, Faqhourah School, which was being used to house people newly homeless from the fighting. Forty-three persons were killed in the attack, and some of them lay dying while troops denied them medical assistance. At least two other UNRWA schools were hit by Israeli bombs. UNRWA head John Ging said the Israeli excuse that the schools were being used as firing positions against them is implausible. "These people had already fled the fighting, some of them lost everything they had. Do you think they'd tolerate someone setting up positions there?" In addition, he said, UNRWA staff strictly controlled access to the schools and would not have allowed armed men in."

"Asked if there were any militants firing from the hospital or the Red Crescent buildings, hospital director general Dr. Khalid Judah chose his words carefully. "I am not able to say if anyone was using the PRCS buildings [the two Palestine Red Crescent Society buildings adjacent to the hospital], but I know for a fact that no one was using the hospital."

And then from Tim Butcher
"You can argue about the merits of the targets. For me, it seemed clumsy to bomb the parliament building, a place that supposedly symbolises the power of democracy, rather than the power of one particular party. And just across the road from Shifa, the biggest hospital in Gaza, a mosque had been "surgically" destroyed – even though Israeli military planners must have known the terror the attack would inflict on the patients nearby, and the collateral damage on the hospital infrastructure.

And I wondered what military threat was posed by the ministerial compound in Tel el Howa, home to tower blocks housing various government departments. The damage was breathtaking, with entire high-rises pancaked down to nothing.

On the rural fringes of Gaza City it was a different story. The Israeli ground forces had caused what in some places can be described as "ultra-cautious localised carnage''. Paranoid about taking casualties, they sent in tanks and combat bulldozers, knocking aside whatever stood in their way – houses, farms, vehicles or property. It was a case of "shoot first, then shoot some more and maybe then ask questions". The loss of civilian life in places like Zeitoun, where at least 48 members of the Samouni family were killed, was horrendous.

"But, for the most part, I was struck by how cosmetically unchanged Gaza appeared to be. It has been a tatty, poorly-maintained mess for decades and the presence of fresh bombsites on streets already lined with broken kerbstones and jerry-built buildings did not make any great difference. And the same can be said for the mindset of many of Gaza's 1.5 million residents. Outsiders might have expected some sort of collective anger at the loss of life, or mass outrage at the Hamas authorities whose policy of firing rockets against Israel had brought down the wrath of the Israeli armed forces.

But I found that, so steeped is the Gazan mindset in the narrative of victimhood, there was no internally-focused groundswell of anger at what had happened. Palestinians in Gaza have felt victims since 1948, when a small number of locals were suddenly swamped by a larger number of refugees, forced to flee land taken by Israel at the creation of the Jewish State. For 60 years they have dwelled on victimhood, a supplicant people grown dependent on foreign aid and reliant on the role Israel plays as the scapegoat for all ills.

The sad truth appeared to me that operation Cast Lead, with its 1,300-plus Palestinian deaths, 6,000-plus lives ruined through injury, and billions of pounds worth of damage, was nothing more than another skirmish in a perpetual conflict, the same one Graham Greene witnessed 42 years ago. "

I like how you are skipping paragraphs that disagree with your views.

galia said...

Source 1

Source 2