Gaza War

Media and pols malign our humanitarian army


The following headline — an unsubstantiated lie — exemplifies how the media mislead millions of readers into believing that the Israel Defense Forces is a brutal, vengeful army that disregards the lives of innocent civilians caught in the current conflict in the Gaza Strip:

Gaza health authorities say Israeli fire kills 104 waiting for aid — Reuters, Feb. 29

Do we read anything about misdeeds of the Russian, Syrian or Sudanese armies? Of Hamas’s daily war crimes? Indeed, major media and politicians express greater distrust of Israel’s military than of any other military force on earth. The IDF is constantly attacked — usually without warrant — for killing too many civilians, blocking aid, or not doing enough to protect civilians.

Yet the IDF is, factually, by any measurement, the world’s most moral military force. It makes unmatched efforts to protect civilian life — which often put its own personnel at greater risk of harm and make military objectives harder to achieve. The IDF’s success at preserving civilian lives is especially impressive considering that its terrorist enemies do their utmost to maximize civilian casualties.

Israel’s military spares no effort to be transparent about its activities. In contrast, its enemies invariably lie—and those lies are parroted by the media, who make a mockery of journalistic integrity by taking the words of terrorists as truth without verification.

Since 80% of Americans support Israel’s defensive war against Hamas, politicians and journalists risk what little esteem the public still holds for them by disrespecting the IDF — the world’s most moral fighting force — and by ignoring the outright lies of Hamas, its use of human shields and its thuggish robbery of humanitarian aid.

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Protecting innocent victims of armed conflict is among the IDF’s fundamental values. Its code of ethics specifies several fundamental values, primary among which is the preservation of life: “The IDF serviceman will, above all, preserve human life, in the recognition of its supreme value, and will place himself or others at risk solely to the extent required to carry out his mission.”

Moreover, the code states, “The IDF and its members are obliged to preserve human dignity. All humans are to be valued, regardless of race, creed, nationality, gender, status or role.” 

Since the media cannot disprove the IDF’s adherence to these values, it resorts to half-truths and innuendo. For example, NPR anchor Ayeesha Rascoe reported: “Last week the arrival of aid trucks in Gaza City caused more misery. Gaza health authorities said Israeli soldiers killed more than 100 Palestinians trying to get that food. Israel said its forces only fired when the crowds put them in danger.”

Notice: No evidence of any actual deaths by gunfire. No mention of the stampede that actually killed the victims. No mention of the IDF’s categorical denial of any killing of aid seekers by its soldiers. No mention of Hamas stealing such aid and selling it on the black market. This is journalistic integrity?

The IDF goes beyond the call of duty to avoid civilian casualties. In fact, US army veteran John Spencer, chair of urban warfare studies at West Point’s Modern Warfare Institute, maintains that during the Gaza war, Israel “has implemented more measures to prevent civilian casualties than any other military in history.”

Spencer notes, for example, that Israel provided civilians in northern Gaza days, even weeks, of warning before carrying out full-scale military operations. Warnings included leaflets, phone calls, text messages, voicemail messages and “roof-knocking” — dropping small munitions on the roof of a building as a warning to residents that an airstrike is imminent. The IDF also sometimes pauses fighting to allow civilians to evacuate combat zones. Spencer asserts that the United States did not provide warnings to civilians or evacuate urban areas when it invaded Iraq in 2003.

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Outrageously, the media rarely mention the IDF’s concerted efforts to protect civilians. Instead, they highlight the number of Palestinian casualties, currently estimated at over 30,000. But these claims come from the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, whose lies about death tolls are notorious, and which does not distinguish between terrorists and civilians. 

The IDF is often blamed for the deaths of civilians for which it is not responsibleFor example, following an explosion at Gaza City’s Al-Ahli Hospital on Oct. 17, the New York Times published the headline, “Israeli Airstrike Hits Gaza Hospital, Killing 500, Palestinian Health Ministry Says.” The Times was later forced to issue an embarrassing retraction after Israeli evidence confirmed it was a rocket misfired by terrorists that hit the hospital’s parking lot, killing some 50 people. The Times chose to believe Hamas without checking the facts.

The IDF has also been accused of killing more than 80 journalists during the conflict. But it turns out that most of these “journalists” were Hamas or Islamic Jihad members, such as Al Jazeera’s Mohamed Washah and Hamza al-Dahdouh. Washah was a Hamas anti-tank missile system developer, while al-Dahdouh was an electronic engineer for Islamic Jihad.

In contrast to the IDF, Hamas does its utmost to maximize civilian casualties. Its ideology, taught in Palestinian schools operated by the United Nations, encourages even children to die fighting Israel. Hamas also purposely locates its personnel and weapons in or near civilian buildings, like schools and mosques. According to UK Col. (ret.) Richard Kemp, “Hamas is the first ‘army’ in history to use their own civilian population as a primary weapon of war.”

In contrast, the IDF is constantly maligned in a smear campaign led by Hamas and its American supporters, who use the media to parrot their lies. Though the IDF repeatedly refutes these lies with facts and evidence, they are often belittled or ignored by smug commentators, who prefer to cynically promote an anti-Israel agenda.

Evidence overwhelmingly proves Israel and the IDF deserve the trust of their allies and of the media. They should not be the victim of politics or political media agendas — especially those favoring terrorists whose murderous acts and malicious lies are well documented.