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Dealing Death to Three-Year-Olds

On Christmas Eve I put up several posts, including one entitled A Message of ‘Peace on Earth’ from Israel, which included some videos showing Israeli children talking, singing, and laughing about what kind of violence and mayhem they would love inflicting upon members of the Arab population around them.

Turns out that roughly around the time I was posting that, Israel:

A) launched an airstrike upon the Gaza strip, killing a three-year-old girl and wounding members of her family; and,

B) carried out home demolitions in the West Bank, displacing 68 people, 32 of whom were children, including a five-year-old girl who is paralyzed from the waist down.

I guess that’s how they like to celebrate Christmas in Israel.

The three-year-old girl killed in Gaza was named Hala Abu Sbeikha. She lived in the Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza. She and other members of her family were standing outside their home when an Israeli plane fired a missile. Two of her brothers were wounded. Hala apparently was killed instantly. Her death came on Christmas Eve. That’s her in the photo below—lying in a hospital morgue.

The Israeli missile was supposedly aimed at a Hamas training camp, fired allegedly in “retaliation” for a sniper shooting at the Gaza border earlier in the day which left an Israeli civilian dead—or at least that’s how the mainstream media are reporting it. But of course the mainstream media always report Israeli violence as “retaliation,” or as being “in response” to something Palestinians have done. What never gets explained is what prompted the act, which prompted the act, which prompted the act, which prompted the so-called “retaliation” in the first place (more on that below).

As for the home demolitions, they occurred in Ein Ayoub and Fasayil al-Wusta, two areas of the West Bank inhabited largely by Bedouins. According to UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness:

These are Bedouin communities who managed to weather the recent snow storms. Tents have been distributed by the Palestinian Red Crescent in coordination with the ICRC but this is hardly adequate considering night-time temperatures plunge to around zero. In addition, some 750 head of sheep and goats are without shelter at this crucial lambing season.

Reportedly Israeli authorites have demolished 663 structures, including 259 residential units, so far in 2013 (we still have five days to go in the year, so don’t discount the possibility of those numbers growing higher), and Gunness said the demolitions are a clear violation of international law. By way of response Israeli officials said what they always say—illegal structures, no building permits, etc.—but of course in Israel getting a building permit can be a tad difficult if you’re not Jewish.

Furthermore, Gunness, in his comments on the matter, seemed to be hinting at, or at least somewhat Delphically alluding to, what I think we can all deduce is very much on the minds of many Israelis these days, perhaps high on their “Christmas wish list” for 2014—namely, solving the so-called demographic problem by means of “forcible transfer.” Or, to put it in plainer English…ethnic cleansing.

“These demolitions are a common trigger of forced displacement and may amount to a forcible transfer and forced eviction under international humanitarian law and human rights law,” Gunness said.


Below is a commentary by Yousef Munayyer, followed by three items from the Israeli Press


Israel, and Kershner, Strike Again

From the blog of Yousef Munayyer

The bias in New York Times reporting on Israel/Palestine is so systematic, it is predictable. Literally.

When the news broke this morning that an Israeli had been shot by a sniper in Gaza while working on the fence around Gaza I knew that the killing would receive plenty of coverage in US media and of course in the New York Times by none other than Isabel Kershner. Even though Kershner routinely fails to report about Palestinian casualties in the Gaza Strip killed or injured by Israel, she rarely misses an opportunity to report about Israelis killed by Palestinians. That’s why earlier this morning I tweeted:

Has Isabel Kershner written her inevitable piece on the Israeli shot today yet after ignoring the large number of Palestinians shot in Gaza?

Yousef Munayyer (@YousefMunayyer) December 24, 2013

On cue, an hour and a half after my tweet, Isabel Kershner’s story goes up at the New York Times.

The headline:

Israelis Shell Gaza After Israeli Fence Repairer Is Killed

and the lead paragraph:

An Israeli laborer who was repairing the security fence along the border with Gaza was fatally shot on Tuesday by a Palestinian sniper, according to the Israeli military, and Israel immediately responded by bombing targets it associated with militant groups in the Palestinian coastal territory.

both make clear that the events today were Israel responding to an attack from Gaza. But absent both from that framing narrative and her entire piece, as I knew would be the case, is any description of preceding events in the Gaza Strip in recent days which featured several and persistent Israeli violations.

Kershner doesn’t tell you that in the last 10 days the Israeli military shot a Palestinian teenager in Gaza on the 15th, shot and killed a man and injured two others in Gaza on the 20th, shot an injured a Palestinian farmer on the 21st, fired at Palestinian fishing boats in Gaza on the 22nd, and shot and seriously injured a Palestinian man on the 23rd. All of these incidents happened in the days preceding today’s events and involved Israel firing into Gaza. None of them are reported in her article despite being vital context for today’s events.

She mentions that Israel’s bombardment of Gaza in November 2012 “ended with an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire” but fails to mention that Israel has been consistently violating that cease-fire. We’ve been keeping track of all of these violations here, precisely because we knew Isabel Kershner and others were not going to inform you about them.

She does however, enumerate all recent Israeli casualties….in the West Bank:

The Israeli killed on Tuesday was a civilian contractor who had been working for the Israeli Defense Ministry. His death came a day after an Israeli police officer was stabbed and wounded at a West Bank junction. On Sunday, a bomb exploded on a bus in Bat Yam, near Tel Aviv, minutes after the passengers had been warned to exit, preventing casualties. The police said they were working on the assumption that the bomb had been an attempted attack by Palestinian militants.

In addition, three Israeli soldiers and a retired colonel have been killed in recent months by Palestinians from the West Bank.

Kershner did a very similar thing in a piece last month which we called out here.

Her piece does end with this line “More than 20 Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli forces this year, according to Palestinian officials.”

All the Palestinians killed and injured are an afterthought in this piece. Those killed and injured by Israeli fire in Gaza immediately prior to today’s events are not event mentioned. In what can only be interpreted as an effort to evoke sympathy for Israel’s actions, Kershner selects to inform the reader about attacks against Israelis in the West Bank while ignoring Israeli attacks on Gaza that occurred right before today’s events, even though today’s events occurred in Gaza and not in the West Bank.

The reader is treated to the familiar refrain: Israel is always acting to defend itself. The New York Times can do better and its readers sure deserve better than this.

With such horribly skewed and sloppy reporting, is it any wonder Americans are so misinformed about the situation?