Silencing the Children of Gaza
The video above is an ad produced by the Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem, in which the names of the children killed in Gaza are read. B’Tselem attempted to buy ad time on Israeli radio but were refused:
More than 600 Palestinians have been killed during the fighting in Gaza so far, including more than 150 children. Yet Israeli media is barely covering the story, other than mentioning the number of casualties. To encourage public debate in Israel on the issue, B’Tselem asked to purchase a spot on IBA Radio in order to have the names of some of the children killed read out. The radio refused, on the grounds that reading out the names of Palestinian children killed in Gaza is politically ‘controversial.’ Yet the refusal is, in itself, far from neutral: it is a powerful statement in favor of silencing public debate over the massive price that Gazan civilians are paying for this operation.
Yet while some voices are silenced, Israeli officials are not only encouraging but in fact paying others. In a report in USA Today from last summer we learned that Israeli students are offered full or part scholarships in return for posting pro-Israel comments on social media that align with government positions.
Of course, it’s not only paid posters who scramble to toe the line.
And while the propaganda wars play out, today in Gaza, a UN School in Beit Hanoun was once again shelled by Israel:
At least 15 people have been reported killed and 200 injured in the Israeli shelling of a UN school in northern Gaza which was being used as a shelter from fierce clashes on the streets outside.
… Robert Turner, the director for UNRWA told Al Jazeera there was no warning from the Israelis before the shells landed. ‘This is a designated emergency shelter,’ he said. ‘The location was conveyed to the Israelis.
‘This was an installation we were managing, that monitored [to ensure] that our neutrality was maintained.’
Multiple western journalists reported the same – including Dan Rivers of ITV:
I just can’t get over what I have just witnessed at the Kamal Odwan hospital in #Gaza so many injured children
I will never forget the utter shock on these kids faces – they thought they were safe in a UN school #Gaza pic.twitter.com/0YRHVc6pxz
— Dan Rivers (@danieljerivers) July 24, 2014
and the BBC:
Correspondents say pools of blood lay on the ground in the courtyard of the school in Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza.
There was a large scorch mark where it appeared a shell had hit, the Associated Press news agency reports.
As the reaction grew to this news — and the photos of the killed and wounded spread (see this from NBC News for example) — the IDF issued a belated series of claims, first that:
In recent days, Hamas has fired rockets from an area of Beit Hanoun where an UNRWA shelter is located.
Last night, we told Red Cross to evacuate civilians from UNRWA’s shelter in Beit Hanoun btw 10 am & 2 pm. UNRWA & Red Cross got the message.
Today Hamas continued firing from Beit Hanoun. The IDF responded by targeting the source of the fire.
Also today, several rockets launched from Gaza toward Israel fell short and hit Beit Hanoun.
Given that UNRWA says specifically that:
…during the course of the day they had been trying to negotiate a window of time with the Israeli army for civilians to leave the area because of the heaving fighting.
But Chris Gunness, a spokesman for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees (Unrwa), said it was never granted.
And that all other reports were of Israeli shelling not a rocket, it’s hard to take the IDF at their word.