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    « Who did they think they were? A tale of five nationalities | Main | Digging into the Gaza beach forensics »



    Unfortunately, another casualty of war is empathy for innocents on the other side. Regardless of whether the deaths were caused by an Israeli shell or an Arab mine (or a "work accident" for that matter), it is impossible not to sympathize with the plight of this poor girl. I am not proud that I find myself wondering if the Times has ever shown similar concern for any of the many Israeli children orphaned by a deliberate terror attack as for this child who was orphaned when a shell (if it was an Israeli shell) went astray. Somehow I doubt it, but that fact in no way lessens the pain and terror that this girl has gone through, and will continue to go through.

    Yet it is suicidal for any nation to let natural compassion for innocents among the enemy stop the nation from protecting its own citizens. If this was an Israeli shell (which is far from proven, and in fact the opposite seems likely), the shell would never have been fired had not rockets from Gaza been pouring into homes and schools in Israel. If I launch rockets at you from the roof of a hospital, who is to blame when your return fire kills the patients? You, for protecting yourself, or me for using a hospital to launch an attack?

    Norm at Normblog seems to think there is still good reason to suspect that this was an Israeli shell. Unfortunately, his sources consist of the hardly unbiased Times and the even less unbiased Human Rights watch.



    I would like to contrast this phrase from your penultimate paragraph

    " But it's never in my experience been right to proceed on the basis that child abuse is a secondary consideration to the pursuit of peace, ..."

    with something about the treatment of a Palestinian girl suffering from cancer from a post by Treppenwitz

    The Schneider Medical Center agreed to absorb a large chunk of operation's cost, as did the Peres Center for Peace. Of the $58,000 price tag, Schneider Hospital and the Peres Center each agreed to pay $24,000, while the PA was asked to kick in only $10,000. .........
    Anyway, knock me over with a feather... Abu Mazen (Dr. Abbas' nom de guerre) agreed that the PA would pay its share for the operation and forwarded the bill to his Minister of Health, Dr. Bassim Na'im (who actually is an MD). ..........
    Dr. Na'im refused to write the check for the PA's share of the bone marrow procedure because, " would be seen as cooperating with the Zionist enemy."

    What really upset Treppenwhich though was this:
    " Yet to these people who drool over even the smallest news story the way a starving man drools over a steak, the willingness of the Palestinian Minister of Health... a Medical Doctor for whom politics should come second (if at all)... to let a little Palestinian girl die rather than cooperate with the Israelis, isn't considered newsworthy.

    These news hounds run from place to place breathlessly reporting the bang of rocks on cars... the bang of bullets and artillery shells... the bang of rockets and bombs.

    But the whimper of a sick little girl isn't news. It isn't newsworthy to them... because it isn't of interest to us. "


    I agree with your analysis. I sometimes get the feeling when reading, eg Lisa's On the Face, that she uses the humanity of individual Palestinians as an excuse to avoid looking at the utter depravity of the Palestinian leadership, and the partisan nature of some who would trade on the natural sympathy that any human would feel for an individual who has suffered an unthinkable loss.


    One interesting point is that the UN Security Council - at least so far as I know - has not condemned Israel by passing a resolution, etc. Angry words but, evidently, a change of policy by the world of nations. Then again, maybe a condemnation resolution will come soon.

    I note also reading a poll that opinions among French opinion makers and the like about the Arab Israeli conflict have recently changed dramatically. The view that the Arab side is being reasonable has collapsed.

    As for the event involved, I do not discount the possibility that the family was intentionally killed by HAMAS or that the event is not, in fact, what has been presented. Which is to say, the Dura child event was, evidently, not what was reported so I would not discount a repeat, this time on the beach. However, the world may not be quite as interested in being manipulated.

    On the other hand, I do feel bad for anyone who died. That is bad on its own terms.


    Neal, I don't think there's any need to go for the view that the family was intentionally killed by Hamas. There's no evidence to suggest that, whereas there is circumstantial evidence to suggest that there is a long history of unexploded ordnance on the beaches of Gaza, not necessarily from the present conflict.

    The way in which Huda, the little girl, has been observed in press reports and photos independent of the beach shots give a clear enough indication of a desperately traumatized child, who is being abused by the manipulative way in which both Fatah and Hamas are using her.

    Steve, Lisa can speak for herself far better and more eloquently than I can. But I have some personal knowledge of her, and know her to be deeply committed to using her outstanding writing talent and her personal charisma in the service of promoting peace and reconciliation between Israelis, Palestinians and the wider Middle East. And she puts a great deal of energy into that.

    I really do not believe that she's into using that work as any sort of excuse for not looking at the sins of the PA.

    Her outlook is, I think, one which believes that it is best to not focus on the overtly political level and instead to work on building trust through interpersonal contacts.

    And I think she has achieved more on that front than I would ever be likely to do, especially in making contacts with previously distrustful Arabs, Iranians and others usually hostile to Israel.

    Nor do I think any of the other bloggers I referred to is acting in bad faith in the way you suggest by referring to using personal contacts as an excuse to pass over the sins of the PA.

    My point is that their very desire for peace leads them, sometimes unconsciously, to back off at times when I think it's really important to speak out. That's my politics speaking. And I claim to have six decades worth of opinions rather than to have a monopoly of insight and wisdom.


    I think there's a point worth making that connects both with your post, Judy, and with your most recent comment. There's no shortage of actions with sinister motivations behind them in this world, but, as you say, sometimes even _noble_ motivations can lead one astray. Human Rights Watch workers want to be able to live another day in Gaza, in order to do important humanitarian work. Were they to blame the Palestinians for the explosion, or to be more equivocal in their blame of Israel, how easy would it be for them to return to do that work? ..It's at least plausible that that's the thought process they go through. It's a problematic thought process to say the least, however noble the motivations behind it are.


    Since I don't think it's available online, I thought I'd paste Dr Eran Lerman's piece from today. Dr Lerman is Director of the American Jewish Committee's Israel/Middle East Office. The piece is longer than the average comment and I'll understand if you delete it if you think it's inappropriate, but I thought, myself, that it was v. strong.
    "A Tragedy on the Beach: Those who Died were Innocent. Those Who Hastened to Condemn the IDF Were Not." -- Dr. Eran Lerman

    The terrible toll among innocent Palestinian civilians—and innocent they were—in recent days must be seen against the sad landscape of deliberate Palestinian provocation. For weeks on end, areas of Israel proper, including the town of S'derot, the villages of the northwestern Negev, and even the sensitive industrial area south of Ashkelon, with its strategic facilities—a power station, a water desalinization plant, and behind them, a thriving city, now within range of Grad rockets (Katyushas)—have been regularly shelled by Palestinian terror groups. True, Hamas nominally kept out in most cases, until recently (but has now, in "retaliation" for Israel's actions, targeted the S'derot home of Defense Minister Amir Peretz). But they did nothing to stop Palestinian Islamic Jihad or the Popular Resistance Committees from putting Israeli civilians at risk, day in and day out.

    Above and beyond the threat to the lives, limbs, and livelihoods of citizens in a significant part of Israel, less than an hour's ride from Tel Aviv, this constant barrage:

    Challenges the basic contract between any state and its citizens—namely, the responsibility to keep them alive and shelter them from harm;

    Erodes the basic structure of Israeli deterrence, which for so many years has been the key to "conflict management" and the prevention of war in the region;

    Puts into question—as many prominent critics were quick to point out—the logic behind Disengagement, which, they argued, promised safer conditions, but "harvested" Hamas in power and an escalation of violence. It is not easy for the Orange camp (those who vehemently objected to the "uprooting" of Jews from their homes in Gaza) to resist the temptation to say, "We told you so."
    It is safe to assume that no country—and no government—would have put up with such circumstances for long. The terrorists were presuming upon Israeli moral and legal restraints, but even these are perishable goods. As pressures grew, the IDF could not remain idle; yet, much to the frustration of many S'derot residents, the chosen response device—regular bursts of artillery fire—was meticulously directed at empty areas, more a symbolic act than an active and effective countermeasure.

    As specific intelligence reports began to come in, however (and reliable reporting is never something created overnight), the IDF was able to shift tactics and target the launcher teams piecemeal. By doing so, rather than reconquering Gaza or flattening the town of Beit Hanoun—as some have suggested—the IDF was trying (again) to reflect the overall moral and political directive: Focus on the terrorists, not on the people at large among whom they operate.

    This, sadly, is easier said than done. In two tragic cases, the new mode of action did end up claiming the lives of innocents:

    About a week ago, a special forces unit of the IDF penetrated the northern Gaza Strip, ambushed a Qassam launching squad, and killed them in battle. To counter this new type of threat to their operations, the terror groups (and perhaps the Hamas militia itself) apparently improvised a minefield on the beach—secretly, so as to entrap Israeli raiders, and without a word or hint to the local Palestinians who might picnic there. The tragedy that claimed the lives of seven members of the Ghaliya family was thus NOT a cold-blooded or even accidental "massacre" by Israelis (which did not, of course, prevent a full cascade of accusations from pouring over Israel's head).

    On Tuesday, a van that was known (again with remarkable precision) to be carrying Grad rockets (with a range up to 20 km.) was tracked in the streets of Gaza and struck, but not much damaged. Therefore, a second salvo was launched, and the rockets were destroyed—tragically, as were the medics and bystanders who rushed to the scene.
    In one sense these are two very different stories. The Palestinians lied (and cleaned up the evidence) in the first case, and it became important for the IDF to prove that they did so. It takes a minute to concoct an accusation; it is a slower process in a democratic country to put together a reliable counterargument supported by evidence (in this case, literally a "shred" of evidence, namely, a piece of shrapnel extracted from one of the wounded). In the second case, there was no point in trying to deny that innocents died by Israel's hand.

    At a deeper level, however, what happened in both cases was that many—far too many in Israel and in the West—rushed to judgment. Israeli forces were once again depicted as bloodthirsty, indiscriminate hunters. Nothing could be further from the truth. Here were two cases in which rocket squads were caught in mid-action. Had they been allowed to do their work, there is no telling what would have happened on the Israeli side. No Israeli officer with such operators in his sights could have allowed them to proceed. Responsibility firmly lies with those who allow the Qassam barrage to continue, but Mahmoud Abbas is now very busy with his confrontation with Hamas and concerned about the need to find a common front with the terror groups. He is unlikely to take the necessary measures to put an end to the present confrontation, and the prospects are that Israel might need once again to deal with this challenge on its own.


    Judy, I certainly didn't mean that Lisa's motivations are at all cynical; by "using... as an excuse" I meant to refer to an internal psychological process: I phrased it clumsily, but I meant something much closer to what you said.

    I suppose that it's important to de-emphasise the political when working on an individual level, but one does run the risk of ignoring what should not be ignored. And one could lay oneself open to being cynically manipulated. The death of anyone is a terrible tragedy. But even if a stray Israeli shell had caused this awful tragedy, it would still not have been a deliberate act against those civilians. Yet every day Hamas tries to deliberately kill Israeli civilians with rockets. The fact that they do not succeed due to the hard-won skills of the IDF should not remove their culpability, and anyone who ignores that, but has an extreme emotional reaction to the beach blast is being inauthentic.



    I return to my first view which is that there is a reasonable chance that the attack was staged by HAMAS. See


    The address did not print out correctly. It is


    Thanks for posting this map Cathleen. Americans have no idea what is going on in the ociuecpd West Bank, some don’t even know that Palestine is not a country, but an Arab territory that was captured by Israel in 1967 and has been militarily ociuecpd ever since.They also don’t understand that there is an illegal settlement movement (illegal according to the Fourth Geneva Convention) into the West Bank by Israeli Jews. Israel is attempting to create “facts on the ground” with large populations of Jews destroying Palestinian homes and agricultural land to build walled Jewish cities and Jewish only roads. The goal is to displace the Palestinian population of the West Bank and annex the territory to Israel, as they did with Syrian Golan Heights. Eventually Israel hopes to turn the apartheid state that now exists into a Jewish majority encompassing all of ancient Judea and Samaria, or what fundamentalist extremist Jews call; eratz Israel.As long as Americans don’t know or don’t understand that there is an apartheid state worse than South Africa, brutality against civilians, and criminal behavior being carried out by Israel, they will continue to believe that Palestinians are just “Muslim terrorists who hate Jews.” This is what Israel and American Jewish sympathizers want us to believe, which is why you never get this information in our mainstream media.That map alone, should be enough to convince Americans that the Palestinian resistance movement is not a terrorist organization, but a last ditch effort by civilian freedom fighters to prevent the complete destruction of their homeland, culture and people, much like the Native American attempt to preserve their way of life against the U.S. settler movement.

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