The Oops Factor

Gazans enthusiastically celebrated Mohamed Morsi’s election as president of Egypt Sunday with large demonstrations, the distribution of candy and the usual celebratory gunfire.  I don’t know why shooting in the air is so popular nor why the shooters think the law of gravity has been repealed just for them.  Media reports say at least one Gazan was killed and six others wounded by bullets from guns of people who didn’t know that what goes up must come down.

It's a common practice in many countries, including the United States, but particularly in the Arab world.  The fatality rate is higher than for most gunshot wounds because the falling bullet usually results in head wounds.  Sometimes instead of hitting people the bullets fall on homes causing roof damage and even fires.

More than 20 Iraqis were reportedly killed by celebratory gunfire in 2003 following news of the deaths of Saddam Hussein's sons Uday and Qusay

Then there are what have been euphemistically called “work accidents.”  These are those incidents where Palestinian terrorists blow themselves up while assembling or transporting bombs intended to kill Jews and then blame Israel either for detonating it through wizardry or just on general principles. This is followed by the bombers’ sponsors vowing they will revenge the clumsy deaths on the hated Zionist enemy.

In one incident a Gaza “engineer” was on the patio at his home building a device for killing Israelis when it went off accidentally and killed him and his two daughters playing nearby.  Hamas immediately swore retribution against those it had intended to kill in the first place.

One year Israel switched away from Daylight Saving Time earlier than other countries in order to accommodate religious interests, but apparently Palestinian terrorists didn’t get the memo or simply refused to accept “Zionist time.” 

At precisely 5:30 on a Sunday afternoon, two coordinated car bombs exploded in different Israeli cities, killing three terrorists who were transporting the bombs, according to  The bombs had been built in Palestinian areas and set to detonate on Daylight time but the men making the deliver had already their changed watches back to Standard time.

Al Qaeda has been looking for new ways to smuggle bombs past metal detectors and other detection methods. Ibrahim al-Asiri, the master bomb-maker of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has been designing body bombs, including the ill-fated underwear bomb intended to destroy a Northwest flight to Detroit on Christmas 2009. His most brilliant idea was to insert a bomb in his brother’s rectal cavity and send him on a suicide mission to kill Saudi Arabia’s intelligence director. The device went off prematurely and the only casualty was Arsi’s 23-year-old brother, ABC News reported.

When four terrorists from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades were killed recently in northern Gaza when a bomb they were planning exploded, Palestinian security officials immediately blamed their deaths on shells fired by an Israeli tank.  Most western media initially ignored the (accurate) Israeli denials and bought the (false) Palestinian version. Over the next several days Palestinians admitted, and some in the media even reported, that the four had died in what one reporter called a “work accident.”

But by that time, as so often happens in these cases, most media had widely distributed the original story that quoted Palestinians blaming Israel or, at best, said there were conflicting claims; but as so often occurs, the accurate or corrected version gets much less, if any, coverage and with none of the prominence of the original story. What’s missing is more careful reporting in the first place and some institutional memory about the credibility of past claims by terrorist groups. It’s too easy to rush on to the air or into print with the breaking story without checking for accuracy and considering the reliability of the sources.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.