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Israel's precision propaganda tries to justify the slaughter of innocents

November 13, 2019 at 8:00 pm

Palestinian women sit on debris after Israeli air strikes hit their homes in Khan Yunis, Gaza on 13 November 2019 [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency]

The seriously misnamed Israel Defence Forces (IDF) and its supporters get very upset when members of the fifth largest army in the world are accused of targeting innocent women and children. They issue vehement denials to the world even though that is exactly what happens as a direct consequence of firing high explosives into densely populated civilian areas.

Even as the bombs are falling, Israeli propaganda goes into top gear. An IDF tweet yesterday announced dramatically: “BREAKING: We just targeted Islamic Jihad commander in Gaza, Baha Abu Al Ata. Al Ata was directly responsible for hundreds of terror attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers. His next attack was imminent.” This was followed quickly up by another post which claimed that the deadly attack was a “precision strike”.

That claim is debateable. What the IDF hasbara team failed to mention was that while targeting Abu Al-Ata the occupation army also killed his wife, and seriously injured four of their children and a neighbour. There was nothing “precision” or “surgical” about this strike; it was arguably a war crime.

When you lob Hellfire missiles — “used in a number of targeted killings of high-profile individuals,” explains Wikipedia — and other so-called smart bombs into a civilian area you will kill civilians. Non-combatant civilians were not protected in such a way during World War Two, which is why Article 33 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions was drawn up. It states that no one should be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.

Live: Gaza in flames as Israel kills senior Islamic Jihad official 

Now we have to sit back and witness the twin obscenities not only of Israel ignoring the Geneva Conventions and killing civilians, but also of pro-Israel lobbyists defending such action. Among the many tweets posted in support of the military strike, one which caught my eye came from the public relations director of a German NGO; Josias Terschüren challenged me when I had the temerity to point out that there was no such thing as a “surgical strike” in civilian areas.

“Apparently nobody but the targeted terrorist and his wife died in the surgical strike and two of his children were severely wounded,” tweeted Terschüren. “This can happen and has happened to other terrorist family members. No civilians were hurt.”

In this man’s eyes, therefore, neither Abu Al-Ata’s wife nor his children can be regarded as innocent civilians; they are members of a “terrorist family”.

Senior Islamic Jihad leader Bahaa Abu Al-Ata and his wife are killed following an Israeli strike on his home in the Gaza Strip on 12 November 2019 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

Senior Islamic Jihad leader Bahaa Abu Al-Ata and his wife are killed following an Israeli strike on his home in the Gaza Strip on 12 November 2019 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

When I challenged him on this, the public relations director of the Berlin-based Holocaust charity “Initiative 27. Januar” responded: “I was referring to your critique of Israeli strikes in densely populated areas. All I wanted to express was, that apart from his family members no other civilians were hit. While unfortunate and sad, this is not uncommon in cases of terrorists‘ family members.”

I’m not sure if Terschüren, who describes himself as “Conservative” and “Christian”, deliberately pushes out this vile propaganda or is a victim of Israeli propaganda himself, because that is a weapon which the IDF uses and abuses with great skill.

Consider this, for example: “This morning we killed an Islamic Jihad commander in #Gaza,” tweeted the IDF yesterday. “This is why you should care.” The accompanying video included news clips about terror attacks including 9/11, Mumbai, Manchester, Paris, Sweden, Indonesia and Nigeria, none of which had anything to do with the Palestinians. Trying to link Palestinian resistance groups to transnational terrorist attacks elsewhere is simply dishonest. They are not branches of Al-Qaeda or Daesh, no matter how many times the IDF and Israel’s lackeys try to convince us otherwise. It simply isn’t true.

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That, though, is what we have come to expect from a country which cannot justify its state terrorism in any other way. “Lies, damn lies and Israeli propaganda,” as Mark Twain might have said. Sadly, such propaganda seems to work, judging by social media; those who are anti-Palestinian fall for it hook, line and sinker, probably because it fuels their own inherent racism and hatred.

The IDF has been busy with more “surgical strikes” since the murder of Abu Al-Ata and his wife. The death toll as I write is 23 Palestinians, of which pro-Israel lobbyists claim just 12 were “confirmed to be members of terror groups”. The strikes were not so surgical after all.

Perhaps the 18 innocents caught up in all of this were the wives and children of the “terrorists”. So that’s all right then, according to Israel’s deluded and blinkered war crime apologists. Their sophistry to justify the murder of innocent men, women and children is sickening.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.