Guardian photo revisits unproven allegations against Israel in UN school deaths

On Dec 8th the Guardian published its entries for their Photographer of the year for 2014, a list which included the following truly heartbreaking photo by Mahmud Hams:


However, despite the caption’s claim, it’s far from certain that 15 Palestinian civilians (including the girl pictured in the AFP photo) were in fact killed – at a UN school in the Gaza city of Beit Hanoun – by an Israeli tank shell on the day in question.

Shortly after the incident in Beit Hanoun, we posted about the UK media’s rush to judgment in reporting on the Palestinian casualties and noted that the Guardian, among others, immediately blamed Israel despite the contradicting evidence reported by other news agencies.

We also explained that an Israeli army inquiry into the fighting that day found that IDF mortars likely did not play a role in the killing of Palestinians in the school courtyard. The army admitted that an errant IDF tank shell (fired in response to Hamas shells fired from near the school) did land in the school’s yard, but at a time when there were evidently no people in the area – as this IDF video of the incident seems to show.

More questions were raised by IDF spokesman Peter Lerner, who told reporters that it was quite “out of the ordinary” that Palestinian health officials in Gaza did not share the nature of the wounds of the casualties with Israeli authorities – information which may have shed light on the cause of death.

Indeed, following communication from CAMERA, Associated Press (AP) editors corrected a series of captions accompanying July 24 photographs which had unequivocally blamed Israel for casualties at the UN school.

The revised AP captions included the following additional text:

“Israel acknowledged that troops fired a mortar shell that hit the courtyard of a U.N. school in Gaza last week, but said aerial footage shows the yard was empty at the time and that the shell could not have killed anyone. It also stated that shell was not fired at the school intentionally.

As Israel and the UN are both currently still investigating the circumstances surrounding the Palestinian casualties from that day, it’s dishonest to impute Israeli culpability while failing to tell readers that the facts are clearly in dispute.

18 replies »

  1. The Guardian are judge, jury and executioner on all matters Gaza, all in the same paragraph usually. Don’t ruin an excellent photo with pesky reservations. Every incident has already been decided as Israeli fire, and always intentional- both in the ground level and by the Israeli government.

  2. I agree that while an enquiry is ongoing, no-one should jump to conclusions. Similarly no-one should take at face value statements from IDF spokespeople or take (and post as evidence) uncorroborated and unverified video to support the IDF’s position. I thought this blog was to pick up anti Israel journalism, not a mouthpiece for the IDF.

  3. Isn`t it contradictorial thet UNRWA stated the schools were empty when the Hamas stored their rockets there?

  4. Here is my prediction of the Guardian’s response to any criticism of this caption.

    “The caption doesn’t state that the tank shell killed the baby. It does not ascribe blame for the death at all. It says merely that the child died from wounds sustained AFTER the school was hit by an Israeli tank shell.

    We don’t say how long after, or if there may have been some other explosion in between times. It is acknowledged that an Israeli tank shell hit the school premises that day, and that the child sustained its injuries AFTER that, so everything in the caption is factually true.”

    Of course the fact that any uninformed reader would assume that the tank shell was responsible for the fatal wounds from the wording is neither here nor there.

  5. Amazing that the Guardian continues to obsess about trying to find something to blame on Israel, while very real horrible atrocities continue to be perpetrated in the region by Syria, ISIS, Iran,etc.

    Nothing shows the bigotry, hypocrisy, and fundamental antisemitic racism which infects the Guardian better than these absurd comparisons.

  6. Shmuley Boteach perfectly describes Hamas
    Battling dark emotion at the Gaza border
    SHMULEY BOTEACH August 13, 2014

    From there we drove to an army base right by the Gaza border. There we met a 35-year-old Golani commander who was one of the most impressive people I’ve met in years. On the first day of the ground invasion his battalion of 600 were involved in heavy fighting against the Hamas terrorists.

    “On a battlefield,” he explained, “there is something called a dead zone. It’s the territory that is controlled by your enemy and open to their fire. It’s difficult to move from one point to another in a dead zone. But in this war,” he continued, “we saw Hamas fighters moving through dead zones holding 5-year-old children in front of them as human shields. I am a father. I cannot even begin to understand the mentality of a fighter who would use a child to protect himself. Are these even men?”

  7. There was no attack on the school.
    It was all Pallywood lies.
    “Appalling Attack On UN Compound” Proved As A Fake Staged Pallywood Operation
    August 5, 2014
    The latest Pallywood show from Hamas that fooled the world that wanted to be fooled.

    “The account promoted by Hamas and repeated by the United States and the U.N. on Sunday was that an Israeli mortar hit a U.N. school, killing 10 people, including children. However, evidence is emerging that the Israeli strike hit outside of the school and the bodies were moved into the courtyard to make it look like Israel hit the school.” Will Obama apologize to Israel? Will the UN? Don’t hold your breath.

    “Sunday’s Gaza School Attack Now Appears To Be Staged,” by Jeff Dunetz, Truth Revolt, August 4, 2014:

    The account promoted by Hamas and repeated by the United States and the U.N. on Sunday was that an Israeli mortar hit a U.N. school, killing 10 people, including children. However, evidence is emerging that the Israeli strike hit outside of the school and the bodies were moved into the courtyard to make it look like Israel hit the school.

    As reported by Rick Moran at the PJ Tatler, the U.K Guardian pointed out the attack was outside the gates of the school:

    A deadly attack on a school in the city of Rafah in the south of Gaza has been denounced as a “moral outrage” and “criminal act” by the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon. At least 10 people were killed and dozens more wounded after a projectile struck a street outside the school gates on Sunday morning.

    As Moran reported, the U.K. Telegraph agreed:

    The school had been providing shelter to more than 3,000 people – the same number that had been seeking refuge at a girl’s school in Jabaliya last Wednesday when it came under attack from a hail of Israeli shells.

    In contrast to that strike, which wrecked a classroom full of sleeping woman and children, the physical destruction this time appeared minimal: just a small but deep hole in the road where the missile had landed.

    The video above describes how bodies were moved. Even a small girl was added to the pile of adult bodies to make it look as if all the deaths came from the school.

    In the video, two dead men are photographed outside the school, but later images show them inside school grounds, suggesting their bodies had been moved or they weren’t really dead.A little girl then appears apparently lying dead and covered in blood, but pictures indicate she was placed there. Then another man picks her up and runs away from the school with her in his arms. We never see where he takes her or whether she is really dead.