Council for the National Interest

Killing Palestinians Doesn’t Count

Fact-checking ceasefire breaches: Killing Palestinians doesn’t count to US media

By Alison Weir
Poynter.orgCounterPunch, January 29, 2009

On January 27, 2009 media headlines trumpeted that Palestinians had broken the latest cease-fire: a bomb had killed one Israeli soldier and injured two or three.

Virtually every media outlet reported this action as a major breach in the ceasefire that had begun on January 18th: Associated Press, CNN, Fox News, CBS, the New York Times, The Washington Post, the LA Times, the McClatchy Newspapers, etc, all pinned the resumption of violence on Palestinians.

There’s just one problem. Israeli forces had already violated the ceasefire at least seven times:

  • Israeli forces killed a Palestinian farmer in Khuza’a east of Khan Yunis on Jan 18
  • Israeli forces killed a Palestinian farmer east of Jabalia on Jan. 19
  • Israeli naval gunboats shelled the Gaza coastline, causing damage to civilian structures
  • Israeli troops shot and injured a child east of Gaza City on Jan 22
  • Israeli gunboat fire injured 4-7 Palestinian fishermen on Jan 22
  • Israeli shelling set a Palestinian house on fire on Jan 22
  • Israeli tanks fired on the border town of Al Faraheen, causing damage to homes and farms on Jan 24

Yet, Americans who rely on American media for their news on Israel-Palestine are being led to believe that Palestinians initiated the violence (the death of one Israeli soldier) that has now led to Israel’s latest onslaught:

By the end of the day, according to reports, Israeli forces had already killed a 27-year-old Palestinian farmer by tank fire; had closed the crossings into Gaza, denying the entire population (1.5 million) access to desperately needed shipments of food, medicine, and other humanitarian aid; had launched a military drone that fired a missile into the city of Khan Yunis, injuring a Hamas member on a motorcycle and reportedly at least one Palestinian child nearby; had sent 20 tanks and seven military bulldozers into Gaza; and had occupied a Palestinian home near the town of Deir Al Balah.*

This is not the first time that the press has reversed the chronology
of Israeli-Palestinian violence.

While the media widely reported that Israel’s three-week-long massacre of Palestinians begun on Dec. 27th was a reaction to Palestinian rockets, the fact is that Israel had initiated the violence by breaking the truce on Nov. 4th by killing six Palestinians and injuring another six, and on Nov. 5th by killing yet another Palestinian. Only after this Israeli violence (and its continued suffocating closure of Gaza, another extremely significant truce violation) did Hamas rocket fire resume.

Most Palestinian rockets are homemade projectiles constructed of scrap metal. They began to be launched only after Israeli invasions of Gaza and the West Bank had killed and injured hundreds of civilians.

In six years, these rockets have killed a total of 18 Israelis. An Israeli attack killed at least 40 Palestinian men, women, and children who had sought refuge in a UN school in a few minutes on Jan. 6th. During its Dec-Jan invasion Israeli forces killed over 1,300 Gazan men, women, and children and injured over 5,000; Palestinian resistance fighters killed 9 Israelis (4 additional deaths were caused by friendly fire), 5 of them soldiers.**

Three researchers, Nancy Kanwisher, Johannes Haushofer, & Anat Biletzki, recently investigated the sequence of ceasefire violations thoroughly and published a detailed analysis of which party — Israelis or Palestinians — broke truces, ceasefires, & periods of calm first. Their findings, published on the Hufftington Post, are clear:

“Virtually all periods of nonviolence lasting more than a week were ended when the Israelis killed Palestinians first. We include here the data from all pause durations that actually occurred.

“Thus, a systematic pattern does exist: it is overwhelmingly Israel, not Palestine, that kills first following a lull. Indeed, it is virtually always Israel that kills first after a lull lasting more than a week.***

It’s time that the press begins reporting this correctly. The American public — and peace — are ill-served by misreporting the facts.




*** See the full report, including data and charts..

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