Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Fog of War?

by Melanie Phillips

Once again, here’s yet more information about the war between Hamas and Israel that unaccountably you may not have come across in today’s UK mainstream media.
  • Peace in our time!
On BBC Radio’s Today programme this morning, I heard a correspondent say that most Israelis were ‘relieved’ by the ceasefire in Gaza. I also heard a news bulletin which said the truce had ‘largely held’ overnight. 'Largely held'? That’s not what they thought in the south of Israel, as they dived for shelter throughout the evening during which between 12 and 20 rockets were fired at them from Gaza. Can you imagine what the BBC would have said had Israel launched just one unprovoked air-strike after the cease-fire deadline! But when it’s the Palestinians breaching the cease-fire, this is airbrushed out of the BBC picture.

Yes, Israeli families are immensely relieved that their children will not now have to go into Gaza in house-to-house battles that would have claimed many of their lives. And of course people are relieved to have some respite from the rockets, however short that may prove to be.

But some 70 per cent of Israelis, according to polling figures, were against the ceasefire -- sorry, according to Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak, ‘document of understandings’. They are also now anxious that, with the Hamas having only agreed to stop rocket fire, human bomb attacks will now return to Israel’s buses and cafes. Because one way or another, Israel remains under daily threat from the Palestinians who do indeed target civilians, and even more particularly young Israelis, for mass murder.

Israelis are battle-hardened, stoical and realistic. Most believe that any military action in Gaza, on the ground or not, can only ever gain a period of respite by destroying so much of its terrorist infrastructure that it takes time to rebuild it. Those who were against the cease-fire thought that only through a ground invasion could enough damage be done to that infrastructure at the very least to achieve a reasonable respite.

But now many are deeply uneasy, not merely that this was not achieved and that in a few weeks or months Israel may once again be massing on the Gaza border with the rockets flying, and now with Hamas much stronger and with Israel’s own credibility greatly weakened. Look at what a Palestinian Authority official told Ha’aretz (£) :
‘Hamas has no regrets over the destruction in Gaza. On the contrary, Hamas gets a great deal of economic and political benefit from the terrible destruction because of the large donations that will come from the world and the political image of the organization that stands on the front line against Israel.’

Many Israelis are also aghast and incredulous that, through this ceasefire, Obama has given the Muslim Brotherhood – of which Hamas is its terrorist wing – the task of guaranteeing Israel’s security against not just rocket fire but the smuggling of weapons. Egypt’s President Morsi is not just a Muslim Brother but is also in cahoots with Iran – the principal source of the rockets and ammunition to Gaza, which have been smuggled in through ...Egypt. The fox is now in charge of the hen-coop.

Indeed, it is likely that the Obama administration’s main concern here was not to help secure the safety of Israel but to help bolster its protégé Morsi in Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood in the region – because heaven help us all, the Obama administration regards the Brotherhood (whose goal is the Islamisation of the west) as ‘moderate’ and thus a suitable buffer against the west’s Islamist foes. Go figure. Accordingly, it is reaching out to them at home as well as in the Middle East (but that’s another, no less terrifying, story.) 

In this Spectator article, Douglas Murray points out how the Brotherhood is now spreading its tentacles across the region, with terrifying long-term consequences for the west from this longest game in the world.

True, Morsi is presiding over a country at risk of starvation and is thus unlikely to do anything to jeopardise America’s annual $3 billion aid package to Egypt. But that didn’t stop him turning a blind eye to the weapons being transported from Iran to Gaza through Sinai; nor the jihadis flowing through Sinai to help their brothers in Gaza murder more Israelis. As is the Brotherhood’s hallmark, Morsi is a canny operator who proceeds not in a straight line but by zigzagging to achieve his goals. So he surely reckons he can hang onto his US aid and fool the Americans into believing that he is holding the line against the Hamas. And since the Obama administration will pretend that that is what he is doing, the Brothers will tighten the pincer on Israel, the brave but besieged and now almost totally surrounded chicken in the coop.
  • Blood libel against the most moral army in the world
The most startling fact about Israel’s performance in the eight days’ war in Gaza is the one about which the most egregious lie is being told by western commentators. This is the astoundingly low proportion of Palestinian civilian casualties.

According to the IDF spokesman last evening, 177 Palestinians were killed in Operation Pillar of Defence, of whom 120 were ‘engaged in terrorist activity’.

That total is a tiny number of deaths from 1500 air strikes. It also means 57 civilians were killed along with the 120 terrorists. That is a ratio of more than two terrorists for every civilian killed. When you consider that in Afghanistan the ratio was three civilians for every one combatant killed, and in Iraq it was four civilians for every one combatant killed, you can see just what a staggering feat of precision the Israelis achieved. This is even more astonishing given that the Hamas situated their rockets and ammunitions in the middle of civilian areas.

This precision was acknowledged yesterday by American journalist Anderson Cooper, who was interviewed by Wolf Blitzer of CNN after Cooper arrived in Israel from Gaza. Acknowledging that some people would disagree, Cooper said that it was very clear that the IDF clearly knew exactly what it was targeting. Palestinians knew it, too, he said: some of them would go outside to watch and even photograph the attacks, because they knew they were not either the targets or the object of indiscriminate fire. The bottom line was that the Israelis were making clear efforts to hit only military targets.

And the reason for that was that they were trying as hard as they possibly could to avoid hitting civilians. No other army in the world goes to such lengths to avoid civilian casualties. Yet no other army in the world is accused by western commentators, as is the IDF, of targeting not just civilians but babies and children – or at the very least, exhibiting a total indifference to the fact that their air-strikes are killing them.

Reliable figures for the number of children killed do not yet appear to have been published (and such figures are in any event problematic, since the Palestinians use teenagers for terrorist activities). However, UNICEF (no friend of Israel) says that 22 children were killed in the Israeli air strikes. That’s 22 too many – but it’s still 22 out of 177. Given that more than half of Gaza’s population are children, this again underscores the fact that the Israelis were going to great lengths to avoid hitting them.  Yet western commentators have grotesquely smeared the Israelis as child-killers.

Amongst those who credulously believe what they see and hear reported about Gaza – in the UK on the BBC, Sky and Channel Four News in particular -- this modern blood-libel not surprisingly rouses them to passionate hatred of Israel. The broadcasters have played a particularly appalling role in this because, notwithstanding the tiny number of child casualties relative to the huge number of air-strikes and the preponderance of terrorists on the casualty list, the BBC, Sky and Channel Four News have been dwelling on distressing footage of the children who were killed. They have thus given the entirely false impression that the number of children killed was very large, and that the Israelis are heartless brutes.

Given that from past experience inflammatory media coverage of Israel’s wars produces a leap in Jew-hatred in Britain and physical attacks on Jews, it seems to me that such dishonest coverage is not just a gross abuse of broadcasters’ responsibility but also constitutes indirect incitement to racial hatred. I believe therefore that this should be raised in Parliament as a matter of urgency.
  • Today’s entrant into the Hall of Shame
A propos the above, just look at what Wyre Davies said today on the BBC News website:
‘What has shocked me most over the last eight days - during which I have reported exclusively from Gaza, with BBC colleagues complementing in Israel - is the appallingly high number of children killed and injured.’

‘Appallingly high’. That’s 22 out of 177. He went on:
‘If the events of the last week (and 2006 and 2008-9) are not to be repeated, a lasting ceasefire is paramount and a permanent solution to improving the daily lives of more the one and a half million Gazans must be put into place. 

‘It is a destructive cycle. After previous conflicts, it went something like this: Gaza would be allowed to rebuild its institutions and infrastructure; but, with time, as people became increasingly frustrated with the Israeli blockade, Palestinian militants would fire more and more rockets into Israel; Israel would respond with overwhelming military force, and much of what had been built up was destroyed.’

So for this BBC correspondent, the ‘destructive cycle’ is of course Israel’s fault. The Hamas attacks are caused by ‘frustration with the blockade’. But of course the blockade is only there because of the murderous attacks by Hamas. There is no cycle. There is Hamas aggression and Israeli defence.
And as for this Israeli ‘blockade’ – what blockade? Israel restricts certain goods from coming in, for sure, but only on security grounds; it actually allows in a huge amount of humanitarian supplies as well as goods for trade. It is Egypt which tends to keep its border with Gaza sealed; yet mysteriously the Hamas isn’t firing rockets at Cairo.

Duh! Why are such BBC journalists incapable of seeing that what they write about Israel makes so little sense? And such reporting can have lethal consequences.
  • The collusion by the west in Hamas aggression
Col Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, has told the Algemeiner

‘There is a very effective anti-Israel propaganda machine and there has been for some time. It’s partly from the Palestinians, partly from other Arab states and many people in the West—from Europe in particular but also the United States—see Hamas as the underdog and Israel as the bully and their natural inclination is to side with the underdog; but it’s to misunderstand the reality: Hamas is not a small group of lone freedom fighters. Hamas is a terrorist organization supported, financed and directed by Iran. Israel on the other hand is not a bully. It has shown amazing restraint—far more restraint than most other countries would show in the face of this sort of provocation.

‘I think some of the governments, diplomats and international NGOs now circling around this issue should shoulder some of the blame for this current conflict. They ignored year after year terrorist missile attacks and they’ve not made any effort to restrain Hamas. So yes, there’s certainly a culpability far wider than just in the immediate region.’


Melanie Phillips


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