The media, N.G.O.s and the U.N. went to great pains to paint Israel and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as the new Nazis who are perpetrate a holocaust on the Palestinian Arabs in Gaza. During the recent fighting in Gaza the media gave credence to everything the UN, Hamas, or the Palestinian Authority said about Israel’s operation. They abjectly ignored the truth and chose to spin a story where Israel is made to look like a bloodthirsty rogue state that commits war crimes at every turn.

Consider the following: on January 6th 2009 a story appeared in the Washington Post with the following headline: “Israel Hits U.N.-Run School in Gaza“. From the headline it appears that Israel deliberately targeted and attacked the school. Similarly, on the english version of Aljazeera’s website came the headline: “Israel kills dozens at Gaza school” and the New York Times published the story “Israeli Shells Kill 40 at Gaza U.N. School“. The outcry from the international community was immediate and visceral. On January 7th the daily TV and radio news program, Democracy Now!, declared

In the deadliest attack since Israel launched its assault on Gaza twelve days ago, up to forty-two Palestinians died on Tuesday after Israel fired mortars at a United Nations school that was sheltering Palestinians who had been forced to flee their homes. Fifty-five Palestinians were also wounded in the attack. Doctors said all of the victims were civilians, including many children.

(Goodman, Amy and Juan Gonzalez, “40+ Killed in Israeli Strike on Gaza School Sheltering Refugees“, Democracy Now!, January 7th 2009)

Time Magazine also ran a story immediately declaring

United Nations investigators say they have uncovered no evidence to support a claim by the Israeli military that Hamas fighters were holed up in a Gaza school, prompting a deadly attack by Israeli forces that killed 40 civilians, many of them children.

(McGirk, Tim, “UN: No Hamas Fighters in Bombed Gaza School“, Time, Inc., January 7, 2009)

Immediately the outcry from NGOs such as Human Rights Watch and from vehement anti-Israel activists such as Dr. Mads Gilbert was that Israel was committing flagrant war crimes and atrocities right in front of the world. However, the truth is somewhat more convoluted than these individuals would like to admit. With regards to the UN school, the UNRWA in early February finally retracted the claim that the school had been attacked. In the retraction the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that “‘The humanitarian coordinator would like to clarify that the shelling, and all of the fatalities, took place outside rather than inside the school” (“UN retracts claim over Gaza school attack“, RTE News, February 4 2009). This retraction came several weeks after the accusation was initially made by the UNRWA and after reports began to surface that the UN staff made efforts to stifle the truth. In the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz the article in the Canadian Globe and Mail noted that

a teacher in the UNRWA compound at the time of the strike “was adamant” that no people had been killed inside the compound.

The newspaper [Globe and Mail] quoted the teacher as saying that, “I could see some of the people had been injured… But when I got outside, it was crazy hell. There were bodies everywhere, people dead, injured, flesh everywhere.”

(Harel, Amos, “UN backtracks on claim that deadly IDF strike hit Gaza school“, Ha’aretz, February 3, 2009)

In the article “Account of Israeli attack doesn’t hold up to scrutiny” in the Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail, Patrick Martin writes of an interview in which a teacher gives his account of what happened

The teacher, who refused to give his name because he said UNRWA had told the staff not to talk to the news media, was adamant: “Inside [the compound] there were 12 injured, but there were no dead.”

“Three of my students were killed,” he said. “But they were all outside.”

(Martin, Patrick, “Account of Israeli attack doesn’t hold up to scrutinyGlobe and Mail, January 29, 2009)

Why did Israel fire mortars into the streets outside the school? It turns out that Hamas militants fired from the streets just outside the school.

The army said two Hamas militants — Imad Abu Askar and Hasan Abu Askar — were among the dead.

Two neighborhood residents confirmed the Israeli account, saying a group of militants fired mortars from a street near the school, then fled into a crowd of people in the streets. Israel then opened fire. (emphasis added)

The residents, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared for their safety, said the Abu Askar brothers were known low-level Hamas militants.

(Barzak, Ibrahim and Steve Weizman, “Israel shells near UN school, killing at least 30“, Associated Press reprinted in the Detroit Free Press, January 6, 2009)

The tragedy of this whole event is that a large number of innocent civilians lost their lives in this incident. The tragedy also is that Hamas cynically uses its own people as human shields and the world remains silent. What remains as an indisputed fact is that when the incident occured the world was immediately there to shout and vilify Israel for committing an alleged atrocity. However when the truth comes out it comes out as a whisper and the world says nothing.

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