The Real Massacre – Israel’s Image

Last week, the media amplified Arab claims that 500 Palestinians were killed by the Israeli army in Jenin. This week, when it became clear that the death count was a small fraction of that — and that many of the dead were gunmen — some of the media regrouped to parrot charges of Israeli war crimes by denying medical care to Palestinian wounded.

The Economist opined (April 20): “Israeli authorities did breach those laws of war which require them to care for non-combatants and the wounded.”

The Guardian’s (UK) editorial, “What really happened in Jenin camp?” compares Israeli actions to September 11:

“Jenin camp looks like the scene of a crime. Its concrete rubble and tortured metal evokes another horror half a world away in New York, smaller in scale but every bit as repellent in its particulars, no less distressing, and every bit as man-made. Jenin smells like a crime. The stench of decaying flesh, of dead bodies left to rot or buried unabsolved under collapsed buildings greets those aid workers and reporters who manage to gain access…

“Jenin already has that aura of infamy that attaches to a crime of especial notoriety… like the Jews’ Massada, [Jenin] could be the stuff of legend upon which dreams are built…”
http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4395504,00.html

Comments to:
letters@guardian.co.uk

Unfortunately, most media outlets published photos that fail to show the destruction in proportion. Instead, aerial photographs show the destroyed area to be a small percentage of the entire refugee camp, which itself is a small portion of the city of Jenin.

See the aerial photographs at:
http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/go.asp?MFAH0ll60

CNN offers one clue as to what may be behind the rotting stench reportedly permeating from Jenin: U.N. official Sami Mshasha “said residents said that animals had been killed or buried in the rubble, adding to the foul smell.”
http://www.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/meast/04/20/jenin.rescue/index.html

How did your local media report the battle of Jenin?

HonestReporting presents several important pieces of evidence acquitting Israel of the charges. Members are encouraged to write letters to the editor using the information below, which depicts damage inflicted by Palestinians themselves, as well as the involvement of Jenin’s civilian population in the fighting.

Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the battle against media bias.

HonestReporting.com

====== (1) RESPONSIBILITY FOR DESTRUCTION =====

Al-Ahram (Egypt) Weekly Online, April 18-24 edition, contains a revealing article about Omar — one of “the revered bomb-makers from the City of the Bombers.” Omar chillingly described the placement of hundreds of explosives throughout the camp and the involvement of Palestinian women and children in the war effort:

“Of all the fighters in the West Bank we were the best prepared,” he says. “We started working on our plan: to trap the invading soldiers and blow them up from the moment the Israeli tanks pulled out of Jenin last month.”

Omar and other “engineers” made hundreds of explosive devices and carefully chose their locations.

“We had more than 50 houses booby-trapped around the camp. We chose old and empty buildings and the houses of men who were wanted by Israel because we knew the soldiers would search for them,” he said. “We cut off lengths of mains water pipes and packed them with explosives and nails. Then we placed them about four meters apart throughout the houses — in cupboards, under sinks, in sofas.”

The fighters hoped to disable Israeli tanks with much more powerful bombs placed inside rubbish bins on the street. More explosives were hidden inside the cars of Jenin’s most wanted men. Connected by wires, the bombs were set off remotely, triggered by the current from a car battery…

And what about the explosion and ambush last Tuesday which killed 13 soldiers? “They were lured there,” he says. “We all stopped shooting and the women went out to tell the soldiers that we had run out of bullets and were leaving. The women alerted the fighters as the soldiers reached the booby-trapped area…”

====== (2) IRONIC BRITISH HYPOCRISY =====

With the British media leading the hoopla against Israel, it is important to note official British documents showing how British authorities — in combating Palestinian terrorism during the Mandate years — utilized anti-terror methods considerably harsher than those used by Israeli forces. (Much of the following information comes from the Jerusalem Post, “How the British Fought Terror in Jenin,” by Raphael Medoff – April 19, 2002)

Following the assassination of a British district commissioner by a Palestinian in Jenin in the summer of 1938, British authorities decided that “a large portion of the town should be blown up” as punishment. On August 25, 1938, a British convoy brought 4,200 kilos of explosives to Jenin for that purpose.

In the Jenin operation and on other occasions, local Arabs were forced to drive “mine-sweeping taxis” ahead of British vehicles in areas where Palestinian terrorists were believed to have planted mines, in order “to reduce [British] landmine casualties.”

On another occasion, British forces responded to the presence of terrorists in the Arab village of Miar, north of Haifa, by blowing up house after house in October 1938. “When the [British] troops left, there was little else remaining of the once-busy village except a pile of mangled masonry,” The New York Times reported.

Under Emergency Regulation 19b, the British Mandate government could demolish any house located in a village where terrorists resided, even if that particular house had no direct connection to terrorist activity. Mandate official Hugh Foot later recalled: “When we thought that a village was harboring rebels, we’d go there and mark one of the large houses. Then, if an incident was traced to that village, we’d blow up the house we’d marked.”

In response to concerns about the morality of these methods, Lord Dufferin of the British Colonial Office said: “British lives are being lost and I don’t think that we, from the security of Whitehall, can protest squeamishly about measures taken by the men in the frontline.”

Sir John Shuckburgh defended the tactics on the grounds that the British were confronted “not with a chivalrous opponent playing the game according to the rules, but with gangsters and murderers.”

Ironically, the British became the target of a smear campaign by Arab propagandists, who alleged that British soldiers gouged out the eyes of Arab prisoners. These charges were publicized widely in the Nazi German press and elsewhere.

====== (3) MEDICAL CARE =====

Dr. David Zangen, a senior pediatrician at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem and the chief medical officer in Jenin, told a press briefing last week:

“There was no situation where we did not allow people to get into the hospital. Every ambulance that wanted to get into the hospital could go every time. We did check the ambulances. The reason was that the hospital was used to hide highly wanted terrorists. On one occasion one of our doctors checked one of the ambulances. According to what the Palestinian doctor said, there was one severely sick person lying inside. And then we looked at him — there wasn’t a scratch on him, he just had an intravenous, just taped to his shirt, not even inserted in his veins. And this was one of the highly wanted terrorists…

“There were cases that the Palestinians asked for doctors, and their doctors did not want to come, either because it was dangerous or they just refused, and we treated them. We treated Palestinians — a case of appendicitis, and we treated a case of leg wound and a wound in the neck — some of them were on the list of people that we knew that fought against us.

“I must tell you about how the terrorists used people, used children. A few days after the battle ended, we saw a 6-year-old child with a little bag going in the camp. One of the soldiers asked him, “Listen, what do you have there in the bag?” and so he dropped it and ran away. The bag included three booby-traps. Six years old.”

Zangen’s full April 21 testimony is at:
http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/go.asp?MFAH0llb0

====== (4) “HIDING A MASSACRE” =====

Kenneth Preiss, a professor at Ben Gurion University and an HonestReporting member, writes:

Please inform the reporters trying to figure out if the Israeli army is trying to “hide a massacre” of Palestinians, that Israel’s citizen army includes journalists, members of parliament, professors, doctors, human rights activists, members of every political party, and every other kind of person, all within sight and cell phone distance of home and editorial offices.

Thousands of people at the home front know exactly what is going on in the war long before they hear it on the radio or see it on TV, because they have been updated by enlisted friends and family with cell phones.

“Massacre” means willful murder of harmless civilians. Had a massacre occurred, the personal public grapevine would have been inundated with information about it, within hours. The talk of “massacre” is yet another malicious canard.

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