ABC’s THE DRUM: “Falling for Israeli propaganda hook, line and sinker” by Michael Brull 15Mar12 March 14, 2012

ABC’s The Drum: Falling for Israeli propaganda hook, line and sinker” by Michael Brull, 13 March 2012

Israel’s recent attack on Gaza has raised a few interesting questions. One of them is this.

Is there any kind of false claim that Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu can make, which the Western media will decline to print?

Back in August last year, eight Israelis were killed near Eilat. Some of them were civilians, some of them were soldiers. The Israeli military responded with a series of air strikes, killing 15 Palestinians. Benjamin Netanyahu declared “Those who gave the order to murder our citizens… are no longer among the living.” He congratulated the Israeli military, which had “eliminated… the senior figures of the organisation which carried out the terror attacks”. The organisation which Netanyahu blamed was the Popular Resistance Committee (PRC).

The PRC said, “We salute [the operation] and we are proud of it, but we do not claim it.” It is hard to imagine why they would deny responsibility for an attack they supported, if they were responsible. IDF Spokesperson Avital Leibovitz was then asked for evidence that the PRC was indeed responsible for the attack. She replied by saying “We did not say that this group was responsible for the terror attack.”

So why did Israel kill so many Palestinians? Why did it kill five Palestinians from the PRC? Was it necessary for Israel to kill three children?

Well, that’s the thing about being Israel. It can kill Arabs whenever it feels like, make up any story it likes, and still get an easy ride in the Western media.

Evidence quickly emerged casting into doubt whether the attackers were even from Gaza. Egyptian authorities identified three of the attackers as Egyptian. Israel also killed a member of Islamic Jihad, claiming that he “was in charge of funding the Eilat attacks”, according to Israeli journalist Yossi Gurvitz. It turns out, every time Israel kills a Palestinian, it has killed another terrorist who attacked Israel.

By September, the Israeli version of events exploded. As noted in Time,

…an investigation by the Israel Defense Forces determined that all of those who actually participated in the attack were Egyptians, according to the daily Yedioth Ahronoth. “The IDF’s investigation of the incident was recently completed and its findings indicate that the Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza sponsored the terror attack, but the terrorists who executed the attack were Egyptians,” reporter Alex Fishman wrote.

The new claim about the PRC funding the attackers should be treated with the same respect as the earlier claim that they launched the attack in the first place. But still – remember that the Israeli army determined that the attackers were all Egyptian. So why did Israel kill 15 Palestinians? Well, again, if you’re the Israeli army, you don’t have to explain yourself, or justify yourself to the Western media.

Showing the Israeli army can never be too cynical, it killed the new leader of the PRC, Zuhair al-Qaissi, on Friday. Its previous attack in August had already killed the PRC’s previous “leader and his lieutenant.”

Why did Israel bomb Gaza? Well, “The IDF said it decided to bomb al-Qaissi’s car due to intelligence that he was plotting a large terrorist attack along the border with Egypt, similar to the one the PRC carried out last August that killed eight Israelis.” Oh, that one.

Or as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald correspondent, Ruth Pollard:

The latest escalation was sparked by Israel’s targeted assassination on Friday of the secretary-general of the Popular Resistance Committee, Zuhair al-Qaissi, who, defence force officials say, was a terrorist leader planning an attack on the Israel-Egypt border.

It at first seems unclear why Pollard left out the revived accusation that the PRC was responsible for the Eilat attack in August. However, she goes on to blandly report

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: ”We will continue to hit whoever plans to attack citizens of Israel.” After yesterday’s weekly cabinet meeting, he said the airstrikes had ”eliminated an arch terrorist who organised many attacks against Israel”.”

Funny, it sounds familiar from Netanyahu. Almost like we’ve heard this before. One wonders how many “terrorists” from the PRC or from Gaza Israel will kill for that attack in August – and the death toll is currently well above 30 – before journalists stop uncritically repeating Netanyahu’s claims of successfully thwarted and assassinated terrorists.

The result of Israel’s cynical murder of Palestinians has been a barrage of rocket attacks from Gaza. As noted in the Independent,

Gaza’s Hamas rulers condemned the Israeli strike. But in a pointed message, they did not let their militants fire rockets at Israel. Instead, they quietly allowed other Palestinian militants to unleash salvos.

The PRC declared,

The coward Zionists have committed an ugly crime and they know the price that they are going to pay… We shall avenge our leader and the response, God willing, will be equal to the size of the heinous crime.

This is likely the bluster which Palestinian militant groups specialise in. No Israelis have been killed, but many are presently living in terror. Ha’aretz military correspondents Harel and Issacharoff note the “150 rockets that have put a million Israelis under siege” since the attack on Gaza.

It is a strange fact that it is considered a “pro” Israel position to support the position of the Israeli government on this occasion. It would mean supporting brazen lies, used to support the murder of 18 Palestinians, including a 12-year-old boy, with the result of rockets being fired at Israelis who are forced into bomb shelters for at least a week. And the looming threat from Palestinian militant groups who want revenge for the assassination of two leaders of the PRC.

These cynical attacks have caused needless bloodshed and left everyone in Israel and Gaza less safe.

The question we must ask our intrepid Middle East correspondents is: how many more masterminds of the Eilat attack last year can Israel kill, before you stop printing its self-contradictory justifications?

Michael Brull is studying a Juris Doctor at UNSW. He tweets @mikeb476. View his full profile here.

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