Will the many, many mainstream media outlets that reported that Jihad Misharawi’s son was killed by the Israelis run retractions and apologies? Don’t hold your breath.
The United Nations has issued a report with unusual courage and accuracy that plainly tells the tale of Israel’s Pillar of Defense counter terror operation – and exposes the lies of Hamas, told to a grieving father and his BBC bureau chief.
In what has become typical of international media, The Washington Post and a BBC bureau chief last November accused and convicted the Israel Defense Forces in a heartrending, angry piece without verifying their information after a fellow editor in Gaza lost his baby son in rocket fire that struck his home.
The front page photo of an Arab stringer for a world-class news network, clutching his dead baby son in his arms, tears running down his cheeks, became a powerful icon of the tragedy of the conflict.
It was used by Hamas as propaganda to blacken Israel’s name in the media and politically in the international arena as it fought to defend its southern population against Gaza’s missile fire.
But apparently very few questioned the source of the rocket fire – certainly not the grieving father, Jihad Misharawi, who at his son’s funeral blamed “the Jews” – nor did BBC Middle East bureau chief Paul Danahar, who came to Gaza to support his colleague, or The Washington Post, which printed the story, written by Max Fisher and “foreign staff”, with photos, published on the front page.
Photos of the damaged home were duly posted, along with a photo of the little child, who is indeed beautiful, and the heartbreaking photo of a grieving father carrying what appears to be his dead son wrapped in shrouds.
“An Israeli round hit Misharawi’s four-room home in Gaza Wednesday, killing his son, according to BBC Middle East bureau chief Paul Danahar, who arrived in Gaza earlier that Thursday,” Fisher reported in his article along with the paper’s “foreign staff” on November 15. “Misharawi’s sister-in-law was also killed, and his brother wounded. Misharawi told Danahar that, when the round landed, there was no fighting in his residential neighborhood.
“We’re all one team in Gaza,” Danahar told me,” Fisher wrote, “saying that Misharawi is a BBC video and photo editor. After spending a ‘few hours’ with his grieving colleague, he wrote on Twitter, ‘Question asked here is: If Israel can kill a man riding on a moving motorbike (as they did last month), how did Jihad’s son get killed.”
Answer: Jihad’s son was killed by Hamas, according to independent investigators from the United Nations. He was murdered by the journalist’s own neighbors, the very men who purport to be his biggest protectors, who live in the surrounding buildings in the city where he lives.
According to the advanced version of its report released by the U.N. Human Rights Council released late last week, “On 14 November, a woman, her 11-month-old infant, and an 18-year-old adult in Al-Zaitoun were killed by what appeared to be a Palestinian rocket that fell short of Israel.”
A footnote to the section says the case was personally investigated by the U.N. OHCHR, and that investigators believe the attack emanated from Hamas.
The terrorist organization – as well as its allied terrorist groups, such as the Islamic Jihad – is well known for launching attacks against Israel from within residential areas in Gaza and maximizing the use of its human shields.
The U.N. document reveals Gaza terrorists fired more than 1,500 rockets at Israel between November 14-21, 2012. For the first time, a number of the missiles reached Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Six Israelis were killed, including four civilians, and 239 Israelis were wounded. Gaza terrorists readily admitted to aiming at civilian targets.
“While some projectiles were directed at military objectives, many, if not the vast majority of the Palestinian attacks on Israel constituted indiscriminate attacks,” noted the report. “Such attacks violate international humanitarian law”.
"Most rockets fired by the armed groups did not seem to be directed at a specific military objective. Furthermore many Palestinian armed groups directly and indirectly indicated their determination to – and took responsibility for – attacks on Israeli civilians or large population centers in Israel. Such acts clearly violate international humanitarian law, namely the principle of distinction…
“Another issue of serious concern during the crisis was allegations related to rocket attacks launched by Palestinian armed groups from populated areas in Gaza…some of these rockets may have been launched from underground tunnels….eyewitnesses informed OHCHR that on two occasions rockets were launched from an area south of Palestine Stadium in Gaza City, about 100 meters from a residential area…OHCHR received first-hand information indicating that rockets were fired from areas close to civilian buildings in the east of Gaza City… about 300 meters from several residential houses.
“Launching attacks from populated areas constitutes a violation of customary rules of international humanitarian law, i.e. the obligation to take all precautions to protect civilians. By having done so, the civilian population’s exposure to the inherent dangers of the military operations taking place around them was greatly heightened.
"The real questions should be, ‘Will The Washington Post print a retraction in the same location as its captivating erroneous front page article? An apology? A new photo? How will BBC bureau chief Paul Danahar respond to this U.N. report, and how to correct the erroneous reports he may have disseminated?,’" Israeli veteran journalist and Middle East analyst Hana Levi Julian pointed out.
"Just a few years ago, a BBC bureau chief was kidnapped by a Gaza terrorist organization and held hostage for nearly five months, his life hanging in the balance. By a miracle, negotiators managed to free him and his life was spared," Julian noted.
"With terrorists breathing down this news organization’s neck, scrutinizing the actions of each of its local reporters, can the BBC allow itself to report objectively in Gaza?"
Does the BBC ever allow itself to report objectively?