Gaza: Journalists and news are hostage to Hamas

A war ends, and another begins. This time it is the war of international public opinion, which when it comes to Israel, sees a baring of the sharpest of teeth. Yesterday, the UN General Assembly gathered and many of the delegates failed to address the thousands of deaths in Syria, for they were only concerned to smother Israel with accusations. The UN Human Rights Council has already called for a commission of inquiry to verify possible war crimes. A meeting of the Security Council is also foreseen. The Hague tribunal is there in the background. Information is at the heart of this war: its inability to communicate what really happened in Gaza seems to be the focal point of the accusations that densify over Israel.

The meetings held In Cairo are for now ceremonious. In the various rooms Egyptians meet with delegations, the Israelis raise the issue of Hamas’ disarmament, and Hamas the opening of borders and the flow of money. The first probable outcome of the talks will only be a prolongation of the truce, but Abu Mazen can be seen in the wings. He is the Egyptian, Israeli and the U.S. candidate who could work for the change that would marginalize Hamas, and who could bring about a political change in Gaza. But if on one hand he declares to be against violence and hence enjoys the support of moderates, on the other he continues to maintain his influence over Palestinians accusing Israel of war crimes; an accusation which makes Israeli leaders and soldiers liable to arrest by signatories to the Court, and which makes Netanyahu akin to Milosevic. On Tuesday, Abu Mazen’s Foreign Minister, Riad al-Maliki, applied for admission to the Hague tribunal. Abu Mazen has accused Israel of “genocide.”

This incomprehensive echo for the Jewish state is based on images from the Strip. Israel claims that of the 1,800 people killed (numbers given by Hamas), 50 percent are militants, and that civilian victims, despite warnings from flyers, phone calls, a preventive warning shot without damage, were due to them being used as human shields in their homes, in hospitals and schools. The missiles were launched from windows and patios, while militiamen used women and children to protect themselves. Many buildings were destroyed because Hamas’ rocket were poorly targeted or voluntarily directed to gain international solidarity. Is there any evidence?

Now that journalists have left, the evidence is beginning to surface. It is known that photographers and cameramen were threatened with expulsion if they photographed armed militants. Only poor civilians were to appear in the their reportage. Hamas’ central command headquarters was located in the basement of the Shifa hospital, but journalists were permitted to photograph only the wounded and the dead. The Italian TG5 journalist, Gabriele Barbati, once out tweeted “away from Gaza and from Hamas revenge” and “Shati children were killed by a wrong launch, militiamen rushed to clean up”. And this is just one of the cases of which Israel has been accused. Gallaghen Fenwick of France 24 showed a launching pad located amidst houses, a hundred meters away from a UN building. Israel has been accused of targeting the UN, and its schools.

A Helsingin Sanomat journalist has testified that Hamas fired from the Shifa hospital; and five minutes before the truce, Sreenivasan Jain from Indian NDTV, showed that under the journalists’ hotel, three men shot a missile and then hide the mechanism which launched it. Sreenivasan says the video will be transmitted only when he is out “because Hamas does not treat kindly those who films them” and he goes on to say that without a truce, we would all have suddenly been in grave danger.

About the Author
Fiamma Nirenstein is a journalist, author, former Deputy President of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, and member of the Italian delegation at the Council of Europe.