Towards the end of a report on the Nightly News Monday evening NBC Anchor Brian Williams read a statement from Hamas accusing Israel of "murdering" hundreds of civilians and denying that his group had ever targeted Israeli civilians.
Hamas spokesman Osama Hamdan did not appear on camera, as he has on other networks, but Williams read his statement:
"As for the targeting of civilians, the numbers speak for themselves. Till now, Israel has murdered more than 550 people in Gaza; according the UN 80 percent of these are civilians…. As for Hamas every single Israeli killed by its fighters or its rockets except one have been soldiers in uniform on duty fully armed and on the battlefield."
Williams just repeated it as Hamas wrote it. Neither he nor any reporter bothered to point out the absurdity of the statement by the spokesman for a group the United States, Israel and most Western countries have labeled a terrorist organization.
It is irresponsible to take at face value the statement of a terrorist organization denying that it targets civilians.
In a CNN interview Hamadan had told Wolf Blitzer that the hundreds and hundreds of missiles Hamas has been firing into Israel were all aimed at military targets and Ben Gurion Airport.
There's a partial truth there. All but two (not one as claimed) civilians have been killed – a Jew and a Bedouin – have been soldiers, but not because that's what Hamas intended. Far from it.
What Hamdan conveniently left out, and what Brian Williams either wasn't aware of or not interested in pointing out, was that Hamas has been firing hundreds if not thousands of rockets indiscriminately toward Israeli towns and cities – most intensely in the past few weeks but continually for years — with the clear intention of killing civilians.
The group has a long history of targeting and killing Israeli civilians. Over the years it has taken credit for – actually boasted of — blowing up hundreds of Israelis by bombing buses and cars, restaurants and cafes, shopping malls and pedestrian streets and the infamous Passover Seder in a Netanya hotel.
That they have failed to kill more civilians this month is not because they haven't tried, and tried hard. It is thanks to the fact that their missiles have no guidance systems (proof alone of their intended use as weapons of terror), Israel has early warning sirens and shelters for the civilian population (Gaza shelters, on the other hand, are apparently reserved for the use of Hamas leaders), and now Israel has Iron Dome anti-missile system.
These indiscriminately fired rockets, missiles and mortars are weapons of terror. The death toll may not be what Hamas would like, but these are terror weapons and they are working. They are terrorizing millions of Israelis, sending them to shelters, fleeing their homes, closing businesses and instilling fear.
Brian Williams' reading the Hamas lies without any effort to provide a correction or and response by some neutral authority is irresponsible, unprofessional and bad journalism.
Later in the evening when the story and Hamas statement were posted on the NBC website, buried near the end was a single sentence saying "scores more [Israeli] civilians would likely be dead if not for the country's Iron Dome air defense system stopping Hamas missiles."
Where was that information, Brian, when you were speaking to millions of people on the Nightly News? When are you going to share it with them?