[News] 117 Palestinians killed, hundreds injured during media's "relative calm"

claude claude at freedomarchives.org
Sun Dec 28 10:47:21 EST 2003


117 Palestinians killed, hundreds injured during media's "relative calm"

Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 26 December 2003
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article2301.shtml


On December 25, an Israeli assassination squad killed five Palestinians in 
Gaza, and injured fifteen. Three of the dead were civilians. A short time 
later, a Palestinian blew himself up at a bus stop in the Tel Aviv suburb 
of Petah Tikva, killing four Israelis, three of whom were confirmed by 
Ha'aretz to be soldiers.

Many leading media organizations were quick to declare that these two 
incidents marked the end of a period of "relative calm" or "lull" in 
Israeli-Palestinian violence, that had supposedly lasted since the last 
Palestinian suicide attack in Haifa on 4 October.

In fact, the period since 4 October has been one of intense Israeli 
violence, in which 117 Palestinians were killed, including 23 children. At 
the same time, Israel destroyed almost five hundred Palestinian homes 
throughout the Occupied Territories.


Mass amnesia again strikes Middle East correspondents

A front-page Los Angeles Times headline declared "12-Week lull in Mideast 
Ends," and misreported that the "back to back spasms of violence" on 25 
December, "shattered more than two months of relative quiet and dealt a 
fresh setback to peace efforts" (26 December 2003).

"Mideast quiet shattered: Suicide bombing kills four Israelis shortly after 
assassination in Gaza," declared The Montreal Gazette on Page 1 (26 
December 2003).

The Chicago Tribune reported that "Coming less than an hour apart," the 25 
December "attacks broke a lull that had lasted more than two months and 
raised fears of a slide into violence" (26 December 2003).

CNN reported on its website that the Petah Tikva attack "was the first 
suicide bombing in Israel since an October 4 attack in Haifa. That incident 
killed 21 people. There has been a relative calm since the Haifa bombing" 
("Suicide bomber kills three in Tel Aviv, " 25 December 2003).

Even the usually careful U.K.-based Reuters news agency's report (which had 
an identical headline to the CNN report) stated that, "the attacks on 
Thursday shattered well over two months of relative calm that had spurred 
efforts to revive talks between Israelis and Palestinians on a U.S.-led 
plan for ending more than three years of conflict" ("Suicide bomber kills 
three in Tel Aviv," 25 December 2003).

In an extraordinary act of forgetfulness, a New York Times report by 
Richard Bernstein and Greg Myre declared that "The suicide bomb attack in 
Petah Tikva broke a tense sort of relative calm that has existed on both 
sides since October" (26 December 2003). But just a few paragraphs above 
this sentence, the same article reported that "Less than an hour before the 
suicide attack, Israeli gunships fired missiles at a car in Gaza, killing a 
commander of Islamic Jihad, who Israeli officials said was planning a 
'mega' attack inside Israel" (emphasis added). The report also stated that 
four others were killed including "two bystanders" and 14 people were injured.

Not only did the Times forget what had happened just an hour before the 
Petah Tikva bomb, it had apparently wiped from memory a report by the same 
Greg Myre on 24 December, headlined "Israelis Kill 8 Palestinians in Raid 
on a Camp in Gaza." According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 
(PCHR), a total of nine Palestinians were killed in the Israeli attack on 
Rafah refugee camp about which Myre reported. Among the 37 injured, eight 
were children, and 116 families were made homeless.


What really happened during the period of "relative calm"

Contrary to the pervasive media claim that the period between 4 October and 
25 December was one of "relative calm," "quiet" or "lull," it was actually 
one of intense Israeli violence on Palestinians throughout the Occupied 
Territories.

Using the meticulous weekly reports of the <http://pchrgaza.org>Palestinian 
Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), EI counted that Israeli forces killed 117 
Palestinians from 2 October to 25 December. The vast majority of the dead 
were civilians and 23 of them were children. Hundreds of civilians were 
injured by Israeli fire. During the same period, PCHR documented that 
Israeli occupation forces destroyed 486 houses and apartments, rendering 
thousands of Palestinians homeless.

During the same period, few Israeli soldiers and civilians were killed in 
Palestinian attacks, and there were indeed no suicide attacks since 4 
October. Israel claims that the huge drop in violence against its civilians 
was largely because it "foiled" such attacks. But, the New York Times 
reported on 5 December that, "Israeli officials have concluded that the 
Islamic movement Hamas has suspended its suicide bombing campaign in recent 
months, a senior Israeli military officer said Thursday, citing that as one 
reason Israel has not suffered any deadly bombings in the past two months."

What is indisputable is that Israel was killing and injuring Palestinians 
by the hundreds. Here are a few examples of incidents that occurred during 
the media's period of "relative calm":

On 10 October, a large contingent of Israeli forces, armed with over 80 
tanks, armored bulldozers and helicopters, entered Rafah refugee camp in 
southern Gaza. During the two-day long attack, 8 Palestinians were killed, 
including 3 children, and 53 were wounded; 20 seriously. Israeli forces 
destroyed 170 homes rendering more than 2000 Palestinians homeless.

In response to this incident, 
<http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGMDE150912003?open&of=ENG-ISR>Amnesty 
International issued a statement saying "The repeated practice by the 
Israeli army of deliberate and wanton destruction of homes and civilian 
property is a grave violation of international human rights and 
humanitarian law, notably articles 33 and 53 of the Fourth Geneva 
Convention, and constitutes a war crime."

On 20 October, Israeli occupation forces carried out two assassination 
attacks that killed eleven Palestinians. Eight of the dead were bystanders. 
The first attack occurred in the morning, when Israeli helicopters fired a 
missile at a car stopped at a traffic light in Gaza City. The missile 
killed the two occupants of the targeted car, and the driver of an adjacent 
car. Nine passing civilians sustained injuries, one of them serious. That 
evening, seven Palestinians were killed, including a child and an on-duty 
doctor when Israeli forces carried out a failed assassination attempt in 
Gaza's Nusseirat refugee camp. The targets of the attack escaped, but in 
addition to the seven civilians killed, 50 were injured, including 11 
children. An eighth civilian later died from his injuries.

On 26 October, Israeli occupation forces in Gaza killed three members of 
the same family who were on their way to visit relatives to celebrate Eid 
al-Fitr, the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. The three men, Khaled 
Ahmed Ibrahim al-Sumairi, 40, Ussama Suleiman 'Aayesh Al-Sumairi, 30, 
Ibrahim Mousa al-Sumairi, 32, got into their car at approximately 8.45 PM 
at their home in Wadi Salqa village in the central Gaza Strip. When they 
were approximately 300 metres from their house, Israeli forces opened fire 
on them without warning, injuring all three. The occupation forces then 
imposed a military curfew on the area, preventing Palestinian ambulances 
from reaching the men for more than 90 minutes. By the time ambulances were 
allowed to tend to the victims, two had died. The third died of his 
injuries upon arrival at Deir al-Balah hospital. After initially claiming 
that the three men had been armed, the Israeli media reported that the 
occupation authorities admitted that the men were in fact unarmed and had 
been killed "by mistake."

On 8 December at approximately 3 PM, Israeli forces stationed at "Neve 
Dekalim" settlement, west of Khan Yunis, in Gaza opened fire at the 
al-Namsawi area of Khan Yunis refugee camp. A Palestinian schoolchild, 
Fatima Mousa Khalafallah, age 10, was wounded by a live bullet in the chest 
while she was in her school approximately 700 metres away from the source 
of fire.

These are just four examples of the dozens of violent incidents that took 
117 Palestinian lives, and injured hundreds more since early October.

Despite the continuous bloodshed, mainstream media organizations have 
habitually described this period as being one of "relative calm" or "quiet" 
that ended only when several Israelis were killed.

This widespread pattern is the most persistent and pernicious failure of 
the media in reporting the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It represents not 
only a shocking lack of professionalism and objectivity, but a double 
standard that treats the lives of one set of human beings as being 
inherently more valuable than those of another.

Related Links
<http://electronicintifada.net/bytopic/146.shtml>BY TOPIC: Israel's 
Assassination Policy


<http://electronicIntifada.net/v2/article2242.shtml#ali>Ali Abunimah is a 
co-founder of the Electronic Intifada.

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