Conduits

When David Adams attempts to write about something other than how Irish nationalists are more bigoted than they actually think, it’s like watching a jockey competing in the high jump at the Olympics.

 West turned blind eye to Hamas until Israel hit back – The Irish Times – Thu, Jan 15, 2009

Through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the UN has taken on much of the responsibilities of a government in Gaza. At a conservative estimate, it employs some 10,000 local people. It runs schools, medical centres and virtually all other social services, and provides many of the vital necessities of life such as food and medicine.

Why didn’t the UN apply pressure by letting it be known that UNRWA might consider withdrawing from Gaza if the attacks didn’t stop? The prospect of having to justify the loss of jobs and vital aid and facilities to the Palestinian people should have been enough to force Hamas into reconsidering its actions.

Why, in other words, didn’t the UN agency threaten to starve the refugees whose welfare it exists to protect? Come to think of it, why don’t the doctors in Gaza refuse to treat patients wounded by Israeli artillery until Hamas stops launching rockets? That would work.

Israel made a major mistake by not allowing journalists in to cover the fighting at first hand. Consequently, in a fit of pique, the media has acted as little more than an unquestioning conduit for the flow of Hamas-controlled information and footage coming out of Gaza. One really does wonder at times how much encouragement religious fundamentalists take from the easy compliance of large sections of the western media. And, for that matter, from the easy compliance of many governments.

Didn’t make a major mistake in bombing children though, at least if David Adams’s article is anything to go by.

Regarding the rockets, here is what Avi Shlaim says:

Democracy Now! | Leading Israeli Scholar Avi Shlaim: Israel Committing “State Terror” in Gaza Attack, Preventing Peace

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Avi Shlaim, Israel says the reason it has attacked Gaza is because of the rocket fire, the rockets that Hamas is firing into southern Israel.

AVI SHLAIM: This is Israeli propaganda, and it is a pack of lies. The important thing to remember is that there was a ceasefire brokered by Egypt in July of last year, and that ceasefire succeeded. So, if Israel wanted to protect its citizens—and it had every right to protect its citizens—the way to go about it was not by launching this vicious military offensive, but by observing the ceasefire.

Now, let me give you some figures, which I think are the most crucial figures in understanding this conflict. Before the ceasefire came into effect in July of 2008, the monthly number of rockets fired—Kassam rockets, homemade Kassam rockets, fired from the Gaza Strip on Israeli settlements and towns in southern Israel was 179. In the first four months of the ceasefire, the number dropped dramatically to three rockets a month, almost zero. I would like to repeat these figures for the benefit of your listeners. Pre-ceasefire, 179 rockets were fired on Israel; post-ceasefire, three rockets a month. This is point number one, and it’s crucial.

And my figures are beyond dispute, because they come from the website of the Israeli Foreign Ministry. But after initiating this war, this particular table, neat table, which showed the success of the ceasefire, was withdrawn and replaced with another table of statistics, which is much more obscure and confusing. Israel—the Foreign Ministry withdrew these figures, because it didn’t suit the new story.

The new story said that Hamas broke the ceasefire. This is a lie. Hamas observed the ceasefire as best as it could and enforced it very effectively. The ceasefire was a stunning success for the first four months. It was broken not by Hamas, but by the IDF. It was broken by the IDF on the 4th of November, when it launched a raid into Gaza and killed six Hamas men.

And there is one other point that I would like to make about the ceasefire. Ever since the election of Hamas in January—I’m sorry, ever since Hamas captured power in Gaza in the summer of 2007, Israel had imposed a blockade of the Strip. Israel stopped food, fuel and medical supplies from reaching the Gaza Strip. One of the terms of the ceasefire was that Israel would lift the blockade of Gaza, yet Israel failed to lift the blockade, and that is one issue that is also overlooked or ignored by official Israeli spokesmen. So Israel was doubly guilty of sabotaging the ceasefire, A, by launching a military attack, and B, by maintaining its very cruel siege of the people of Gaza.

Does David Adams know anything about any of this? Or does he just write stuff based on what he sees on television? On the UN, he writes:

We’ll never know, since the UN didn’t bother trying to pressurise them. The level of UN administrative involvement in Gaza would be impossible without constant interaction between representatives of the Islamic fundamentalists and senior UNRWA officials. Perhaps relations between Hamas and some senior UN representatives have become too close, too driven by on-the-ground pragmatism.

Well, with over a thousand Palestinians dead since the current attacks began, Israel has now hit the headquarters of the UN refugee agency and a hospital in Gaza.

The compound of the UN Relief and Works Agency was hit by what appeared to be three white phosphorous shells, with three people known to have been hurt, a spokesman for the organisation, Chris Gunness, said. It was on fire, with large amounts of aid supplies, including fuel trucks, at risk, he added.

But since David Adams thinks ‘the media has acted as little more than an unquestioning conduit for the flow of Hamas-controlled information and footage coming out of Gaza’ and is happy to believe, unquestioned, Israeli ‘concerns that a blind eye was being turned to the storing of armaments in and around some UNRWA facilities’, one is inclined to wonder if his response to this will be that it never happened, but it was justified anyway.

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1 Response to “Conduits”


  1. 1 David January 16, 2009 at 11:32 am

    Thanks for this Hugh. You should highlight this bit:

    “if Israel wanted to protect its citizens—and it had every right to protect its citizens—the way to go about it was not by launching this vicious military offensive, but by observing the ceasefire.”

    It counters a lot of the bullshit about ‘self defense’.


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