Israel’s hasbara campaign is in full swing – the truth about who breached the ceasefire (Israel), why the Israelis never stopped occupying Gaza (Israel breached the 4th Geneva Conventions ever since it ‘withdrew’ from Gaza by maintaining a blockade), how the UN School at Jabailya came to be attacked by the IDF, the hideous Zeitoun massacre of 30 people by the IDF and many more memes are dissembled, sanitised, spun and respun by the mendacious Israeli spiel machine.
Now, we know that the Israeli foreign ministry itself is orchestrating propaganda efforts designed to flood news websites with pro-Israel arguments and information.
The foreign ministry shouldn’t get a pass on this one. It may view such hasbara as maximising its efforts to “explain” Israel’s position in the world media. I view it as a cynical attempt to flood the web and news media with favorable flackery in a vain attempt to tilt public opinion toward Israel. Not only does it do Israel a disservice, it stains every legitimate effort that the ministry might make to explain Israel to the world, since no one will believe a word it says knowing it engages in such outright propaganda.
The just cause of Palestinians for land and freedom is further set back by the image provoked in the media by the Israeli propaganda machine:
“We don’t fight the Jews because they’re Jews, but because they are occupiers,” stresses Meshal. “If the Arabs occupied us, [we’d] fight them too … But why is everybody so worried about our religiosity anyway? Israel has always referred to ancient biblical texts to justify its existence. If an Arab official, for example, wore an Islamic looking turban, he would be sending the wrong signals. But when Israeli officials put on the Jewish kipot (skull cap), that’s not a problem, nobody is worried about religiosity then.”
“We live under occupation and we don’t have the traditional tools to defend ourselves” Meshal continues. “We repeatedly demanded that Israel not target Palestinian civilians and end the siege. But Israel never listened.”
The UN Human Rights Council is considering a draft resolution on the treatment of civilians in Gaza by the IDF – about time!
According to the survivors’ accounts, partly corroborated by the International Red Cross and the United Nations, Israeli soldiers raided their homes and then huddled the extended family together into one house.
The following day they shelled and dropped missiles around the house.
Abdullah was found in the house surrounded by his dead uncles and cousins Witnesses say at least 30 members of the Samouni family were killed.
Al Jazeera tracked down the ambulance driver who rescued Ahmed. The Red Cross personnel were denied access by the Israeli army to the area for four days after the house was shelled.
“On the day we got permission, the army told us to leave the ambulances around two kilometres from the house,” said Mohamed el-Halby, a paramedic. “So we walked and all around us we could see they had bulldozered the area. The houses we passed had Israeli soldiers standing on the roofs.”
“We went inside and heard screams coming from one room. There were about 15 people inside, two were dead, the rest sitting around them. That was just one room.”
France is suggesting European observers be sent to monitor any eventual cease fire.
French Defense Minister Herve Morin suggested a European peacekeeping force for Gaza once the violence has settled.
“It seems to me it would not be stupid or incoherent for the Europeans to participate in a force that would be tasked with watching over the security of the borders,” he said on French radio RFI on Sunday night.
He said France should consider participating in such a force if one is formed, but added that for now “the conditions have not been met” to establish such a force.
A rift has developed in the Israeli cabinet, with Olmert still hell-bent on continuing the collective punishment the people of Gaza, and Barak and Livni dissenting.
The three officials discussed the issue Saturday evening in a security cabinet meeting, and both Barak and Livni reportedly argued for ending Operation Cast Lead as soon as possible but Olmert seeks to continue the military operations inside the Gaza Strip, the report added.
According to the report, Livni and Barak also objected the expansion of the ground operations.
How convenient – when the operation is ended after even more loss of civilian lives, Livni and Barak can both attempt to exonerate themselves by pointing out they were in favour of stopping before the ground invasion.