Thursday, May 28, 2009

Who is Israel Killing?

Fascinating (and not exactly new) article by Simona Wienglass at TNR about who the dead Palestinians in Gaza were. According to the Palestinian official responsible for the list, Khalil Shaheen, if you weren't armed at the moment of death, you're a civilian, even if you were the top Hamas ideologue of death, say, like Nizar Rayan. Meanwhile, one Jonathan Halevi, a private citizen who lives in Toronto, takes the Palestinian lists as his starting point, and using top secret methods such as Google, punches holes in the Palestinian lists.
As of last month, Halevi has a list of 171 people the PCHR defines as
civilians that he claims he can prove are actually combatants affiliated
with Hamas or other terrorist groups. His contention is based on a simple
principle: When fighters die, they don't just leave behind a body, a family,
and eyewitnesses--they leave a paper trail. Martyrdom posters, photographs
of funerals, articles celebrating heroes' exploits, lists of payments to
families--these sources help Halevi disprove that a particular fatality was
a civilian as opposed to a fighter. Intelligence analysts around the world
are following this paper trail, and they don't just work for the Shin Bet or
CIA. In fact, in the era of the Internet, vast amounts of intelligence are
available to anyone with fluent Arabic, a little training, and a lot of time
and patience...

But even facts can be subjective. For example, Halevi accuses Shaheen's
organization of mislabeling Hamas cleric Nizar Rayan as a civilian. Shaheen
explains that Rayan was killed in an Israeli airstrike on his home. There are
jihadist posters of Rayan all over Gaza, and yet, "I cannot count him as a
militant or fighter," Shaheen says. Rayan was unarmed with his wives and
children when he was killed, Shaheen explains. "I cannot count this case as a
fighter because he didn't participate as a fighter in the offensive. He was a
civilian the whole time--going to the mosque, praying, coming back to his

None of this is petty. The case against Israel, broadcast the world over at high intensity, is that in its callousness it kills large numbers of innocent civilians. Looking closer at the facts, it appears that in order to say this you have to disregard what many of the casualties or their families themselves say: we're proud soldiers in the war against Israel.

1 comment:

annie said...

The blogger Elder of Ziyon has also been doing sterling work in investigating the so-called Gaza "civilians". His work was even piced up by CAMERA. See this article of his here and read the links within: