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Time Runs Out on Counting Casualties in Gaza

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Last week I received an email from Time magazine, asking if I “would be interested in contributing a piece for Time.com on the casualty numbers being reported in Gaza. These come mostly from Hamas, and we’re interested in a piece on how reliable/unreliable the numbers are,” the email said.  But the magazine apparently wasn’t interested in the product they requested.

I immediately responded that I would be willing to provide them with a piece, and, at their request, suggested what I would plan to say. They wrote back the following: “I think we need a piece that focuses on the reported casualties and how we can/should unpack those numbers as reliable or not. What source or sources should we be going to, and how should the casualty count be done? I don’t think we need to address Israel being treated as the aggressor since I think many will be familiar with that perspective and its counter.” When I submitted a full piece targeted more toward what they suggested, they decided to pass. It wasn’t “quite what we’re looking for so will have to pass.”

The media have been playing games with the coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and most of it favors the residents of Gaza. After the UN school in Gaza was hit last week, and said to have killed 15 or 16 people, Time ran a story, which, as stated in the postscript at the end of the article, was a corrected version. By Time magazine’s admission, the earlier version of the story “drew a premature conclusion that the attack on the Gaza shelter was committed by Israel. The source of the attack has not yet been confirmed.”

NBC news also cited “Israeli shells” for the attack and spoke with “health ministry official Ashraf al-Kidra.” Israel acknowledged that a single Israeli Defense Force (IDF) shell hit the school courtyard, but said it was at a time when there was no one there, and that it had nothing to do with the deaths of those 16 people.

It’s not surprising, then, that The New York Times on July 28 counted the “mounting outrage over the hundreds of civilian Palestinians dead” as among several levers in the leverage that Hamas has in cease-fire negotiations. This hints at something all too true: every dead or crying Palestinian woman and child serves as propaganda on behalf of the militant Hamas terrorist cause.

The New York Times also describes Hamas, which was designated a foreign terrorist organization by the State Department in 1997, as a “militant Palestinian faction that dominates the Gaza Strip” in this piece. The article front-loads the pro-Hamas sources as it makes its analysis, but the “former Israeli chief of military intelligence” is given the last word. “This is their ideology, this is what they believe in; it’s the resistance,” says Amos Yadlin. “To ask Hamas to demilitarize Gaza is like asking a priest to convert to Judaism.”

How many people really read the Times’ articles to the last sentence, especially in a 1,300-word piece?

But the Times does hint at one important issue: for all the talk about aid to those in the Gaza Strip, would international aid produce the intended effect at this point? “Politically isolated after breaks with Syria, Iran and especially Egypt, and its effort at reconciling with the Palestinian factions that rule the West Bank having failed to bear fruit, Hamas has all but given up on governing Gaza to focus on the battlefield,” writes the Times. Resistance is now a make-or-break issue.

The mainstream media’s reporting on the whole has been despicable. Although Israel agreed to five cease-fires, every one of them was broken by Hamas—which, since the Palestinians are now supposedly a “unity government,” is the same as the Palestinian government. For those who think that Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah in the West Bank represent the moderates, they should pay attention when he declares the current conflict a religious “War for Allah.” In fact, Abbas is no moderate at all, as former Israeli diplomat Yoram Ettinger has detailed . Earlier this year Abbas  said there is “no way” that he will accept Israel as a Jewish state.

Unfortunately, Time magazine, like most of the media, is determined to blame Israel in this conflict. Thus, they weren’t interested in an article that even partially discussed Israel being unfairly treated as the aggressor.

With all of their images of hospitalized and injured children, and adults, how often do the reporters connect the dots and say, “This is happening because Hamas is using women and children as human shields, and doing what it can to create more such casualties, since that is what they understand works to bring pressure on Israel. Hamas clearly does not care about the lives of its own people.” That should be the obvious conclusion to these so-called journalists, but instead, the focus of most of the reporting is to characterize Israel as the aggressor, the real terrorists, responsible for all of these casualties. Besides, the numbers of civilian deaths coming from Hamas, or the Gaza Health Ministry, are largely propaganda. How many of the casualties are caused by missiles fired from Gaza that didn’t make it into Israel? How many are because they were used as human shields? How many were killed because they were viewed as collaborators with Israel? I discuss more about the issue in the article below that was apparently too hot for Time magazine to touch.



 

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