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Israeli shell kills four kids, mum

Monday 19 April 2008:  This was the headline in the West Australian.  It is accompanied by a photo of four dead children, faces exposed, and a very carefully worded article that starts as follows “An Israeli tank shell slammed into a tiny Gaza Strip home yesterday, killing a Palestinian woman and four of her children as they prepared to sit down for breakfast, officials and relatives said.”

What actually happened here?  Well, according to the Israeli press, here is one account:

IDF Denies Hamas Claims Army Killed Mother, Children
Several of the Kassams were fired at Sderot after the IDF attacked rocket-launching terrorist cells in northern Gaza.

Hamas claims that Israeli soldiers killed a mother and four of her children during an attack on terrorists in Beit Hanoun. The IDF issued a statement officially denying the charge, saying the family was most likely killed when explosives inside the home were detonated by accident.

An IDF soldier from the Givati Brigade was lightly wounded in the heavy clashes that began in northern Gaza early Monday morning. He was evacuated to Soroka Hospital in Be’er Sheva.

Israeli counterterrorism operations in northern Gaza continued Monday afternoon as Hamas vowed to escalate its attacks on Jewish civilians in the western Negev.

Here is another article:

A Palestinian mother and her four children were killed in northern Gaza on Monday by secondary explosions after the IAF bombed a pair of Palestinian terrorists carrying large quantities of explosives near the family’s home, the army said following a probe into the incident.

According to the IDF, the explosion occurred after an Israeli aircraft fired a missile at two Palestinian terrorists who were spotted next to the family home. The terrorists, the IDF said, were carrying explosive devices, which subsequently detonated, causing a secondary explosion that destroyed the home and killed Miyasar and her four children.

Here is a third article

The army’s initial investigation into the incident concluded that two Palestinian terrorists were attacked and hit from the air, causing the bomb they were carrying to explode and destroying the Abu Meatak family home. The house was hit while the family was at the breakfast table.

“Hamas, which operates from inside population concentrations and keeps explosive devices in civilian areas, is also responsible for some of the civilian casualties in these operations,”

It is clear from the reporting of this event that the West Australian is providing biased coverage that lacks both honesty and moral clarity. The cynical use of photos of dead children is a disgrace. Those children would not be dead if terrorists wern’t engaged in firing missiles at Israel. It was Palestinian weapons in Palestinian hands that caused their death, and it is entirely legitimate for Israel to pursue terrorists with ammunition that would otherwise be fired toward Israel. Each day when missiles rein on Sderot and the surrounding regions, Israel does not photograph their victims dead bodies and deliver them to the media. When hundreds of thousands of Israelis live in daily fear of Kassam attacks, Israel has the right to defend itself and target terrorists.

Bottom line: Israel is not setting out to kill Palestinian mothers and babies, but Hamas are setting out to kill Israeli mothers and babies. To be credible and honest, The West Australian coverage needs to recognise this moral distinction.

Update:  (posted 30 April 2008)

The IDF have issued the official statement below:

April 28th, 2008


During IDF operation this morning in northern Gaza, the IDF targeted from the air two Palestinian gunmen who were approaching the soldiers while carrying large bags on their backs. A big explosion erupted on the scene, following the attack against the two, indicating the presence of bombs and explosives in the gunmen’s bags. As a result of this big explosion, extensive damage was caused to a house that was near the gunmen and uninvolved civilians were hit. The IDF Spokesperson wishes to stress that the responsibility for the injuring and killing of uninvolved civilians lies with the terrorist organization Hamas, which operates within civilian population, using them as human shields and risking their lives by keeping bombs and explosives near them.

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