by Arnold Ahlert
It is as predictable as a sunrise. Despite more than 11,000 rockets and mortars fired into Israel by Hamas since Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005 — including more than 800 rockets this year alone — as soon as Israel begins to defend itself from attack, it is invariable cast as the cold-blooded aggressor, and mainstream media salivate to find the evidence. An outrageous example of this came recently from CNN, which reported that a dead Palestinian child was killed by a missile and that Israel was likely responsible. Yet CNN is far from alone in looking for ways to brand Israel as the villain in the latest outbreak of violence.
The picture shown above (and here) has been broadcast all over the world. The dead body of four-year-old Mahmoud Sadallah is being cradled by Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil and Gaza’s Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh during a media presentation at Shifa hospital in Gaza City, last Friday. “The boy, the martyr, whose blood is still on my hands and clothes, is something that we cannot keep silent about,” said Kandil, who then promised to defend the Palestinian people.
As the Boston Globe was determined to point out, Sadallah’s death “has drawn attention to the dangers Gaza’s children face in this crowded urban battle zone,” further noting that such children “seem to be everywhere in the current round of cross-border fighting between Israel and Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers.” What the Boston Globe and others are equally determined to underplay, or ignore completely, is why there are any children at all in these “crowded urban battle zones.”
A photo shown here gets to the heart of Hamas’s propaganda strategy, as well as their complete disregard for the well-being of their own citizens — especially children. The picture shows a Fajr-5 missile launch pad located in the heavily populated Zeitoun district of Gaza. Within a half-block of the launcher, designed to fire long range rockets into the Jewish State, there is a children’s playground, a mosque, two civilian factories and a gas station.
On Wednesday, Israel carried out a surgical strike on that pad as part of their Operation Pillar of Defense. They had an excellent reason for doing so. The Fajr-5, developed by Iran, has a range of almost 47 miles — meaning it can hit Tel Aviv and elsewhere in the heavily populated areas of central Israel. On Saturday, Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile defense system intercepted a Fajr-5 missile heading for Tel Aviv. This was Hamas’s third attempted attack on Tel Aviv in three days. Moreover, Palestinian terrorists nearly hit Jerusalem with a rocket for the first time in decades on Friday.
Thus, Israel is faced with a clear, but unenviable, choice. It can either allow such missile launchers to remain intact, and leave Israeli civilians in its two largest cities and elsewhere completely vulnerable to an organization whose charter calls for Israel’s annihilation, or it can strike critical targets as precisely as possible and endure the inevitable claims of “unnecessary” civilian casualties that feed the Hamas propaganda machine.
Britain’s Guardian newspaper was more than willing to abet that propaganda, much of which consists of making Hamas’s aggression and Israel’s attempt to defend itself morally equivalent. After noting Israel has the upper hand in a “straight fight,” the paper is seemingly delighted to report that “the Palestinians have used a weapon which gives them a rare if short-lived advantage–a rocket (the Fajr-5) which can strike at Israel’s civilian heartland.” The paper further notes that the Fajr-5 “is not a game-changer, but it does even out the stakes.”
Fortunately, even as the effort to blame Sadallah’s death on Israel was intensifying, the story began to fall apart. As the Telegraph reported, “The highly publicised death of four-year-old Mohammed Sadallah appeared to have been the result of a misfiring home-made rocket, not a bomb dropped by Israel.” The paper further revealed that the “Palestinian Centre for Human Rights who visited the site on Saturday said they believed that the explosion was caused by a Palestinian rocket.” Even the boy’s mother said it was “possible he was struck by a rocket fired by Palestinian fighters.”
Though this outrageous example of prejudiced reporting has been exposed as a fraud, rest assured the media is still intent on dictating exactly how far Israel can go in terms of defending itself, and a possible ground invasion is not part of that agenda. The Telegraph notes that there has been “broad international support so far for the bombing campaign against rocket sites, but that could wane if a ground invasion led to a sharp rise in the number of people killed.”
The New York Times didn’t even support Israel’s initial aerial attacks, characterizing them as “one of the most ferocious assaults on Gaza since its invasion four years ago.” “Israel has a right to defend itself, but it’s hard to see how Wednesday’s operation could be the most effective way of advancing its long-term interests,” the paper editorialized.
Reuters also echoed the limited response refrain, noting that “Israel’s operation has so far drawn Western support for what U.S. and European leaders have called its right to self-defence, but there was also a growing number of appeals from them to seek an end to the hostilities.” And the Associated Press is reporting that president Obama was of like mind as well. ”If we see a further escalation of the situation in Gaza, the likelihood of us getting back on any kind of peace track that leads to a two-state solution is going to be pushed off way into the future,” Obama contended.
All of this nonsense reflects an ugly double-standard. Not once has the so-called international community ever condemned Hamas for regularly firing rockets into Israel over the span of eight years. Among the global elites, it is apparently taken as a matter of course that Israelis must live under constant threat of bombardments that have been responsible for 30 deaths, 1500 injuries, and hundreds of thousands of traumatized citizens.
It is only when Israel reaches a breaking point, and seeks to defend itself, that the international community suddenly becomes concerned with casualties — Palestinian casualties. Until such escalation occurs, Hamas can continue firing missiles with impunity, even as these paragons of “enlightened thinking” remain willfully uninterested.
Whether such predictable responses amount to moral cowardice or anti-Semitism, it feeds the anti-Israel media complex critical to Hamas’s war strategy. Unlike Israel, or any civilized people, Hamas is buoyed by collateral damage from Israeli strikes because it allows them to foment hatred of their enemy, increase international pressure on Israel to not retaliate, and garner sympathy for their terrorist cause. Lost in the human interest stories are the facts that it was they who initiated the conflict in the first place and used women and children as human shields.
Hamas’s Gaza Interior Minister, Fathi Hamad, confirmed this strategy in a video recorded in 2008. “For the Palestinian people, death has become an industry, at which women excel, and so do all the people living on this land. The elderly excel at this, and so do the mujahideen and the children. This is why they have formed human shields of the women, the children, the elderly, and the mujahideen, in order to challenge the Zionist bombing machine. It is as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy: ‘We desire death like you desire life.’”
For those quick to make moral equivalency between Palestinian terrorism and Israel’s “ferocious assaults” in its own defense, an average of two to three missile launches per day is likely seen as a reasonable tradeoff for peace’s sake. For Israelis, however, it is becoming more and more obvious that they comprise the only country in the world expected to live under such “peaceful” conditions — and they are losing patience with the game and are willing to take matters into their own hands.
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