Here’s the headline: “Israelis kill 3 Palestinians in Gaza.” The picture that Yahoo News is currently showing with this headlined story is of an injured boy in a hospital bed with an elderly woman sitting next to him. Sort the whole thing out and this is what you get: the picture has nothing to do with the story. Instead, it’s about a boy injured by a cluster bomb, a picture accompanied by this Reuter’s text:
It looks innocuous, but a careless kick from a passing child would detonate this cluster bomb, one of thousands of unexploded devices Israel scattered over the towns, villages and hillsides of South Lebanon during its 34-day war with Hizbollah fighters.
Funnily enough, I have no memory of Reuters photos of Hezbollah missiles loaded with ball bearings, or of Israeli civilians killed or injured by those missiles, all of which were targeted at civilians. But yes, typical for me, I’m digressing again. I want to get back to that story about those three dead Palestinians.
That headline, and the child-in-hospital-bed photo that accompanies it, create a definite impression, one I’m sure AP/Reuters/Yahoo intended: Israel killed three innocent Palestinians, probably children. If you just scanned the headlines at Yahoo news, you’d know nothing more than that. Spend even a minute with the story and, by the first paragraph, the ugly truth leaks out, which corroborating details following:
Israeli troops shot and killed three militants from the Islamic Jihad group near the Israel-Gaza border on Tuesday, as soldiers conducted house-to-house searches and made arrests elsewhere in the coast strip. [Yup, they weren’t mere civilians, they were soldiers — ed.]
The Israeli army said soldiers opened fire after spotting what they considered suspicious men walking by a fence near the Kissufim crossing, carrying large bags. Tanks also fired in the direction of the three men, the army said.
No weapons were found near the bodies, but Palestinian security officials said the three had been sent to carry out an attack. [Not only were they soldiers, but the Palestinians themselves admit that they were on their way to kill Israelis — ed.]
Just a couple of comments, aside from the obvious. First, this obsessive focus on a regional conflict is obscene, especially because it is so one-sided. Second, harking to the one-sidedness, wouldn’t it be nice if the headline read: “Israeli soldiers successfully prevent murderous attack?”
Getting back to the cluster bombs, though, because there’s more there than I thought. I hadn’t heard about cluster bombs, but a quick Google of “cluster bombs Israel” yielded 2,500,000 results. Among these was a story about Human Rights Watch’s claim that Israel was using chemical weapons as well as cluster bombs. A German TV station — German, of all things! — has completely debunked the chemical weapons allegation. That debunking aside, HRW’s credibility is so pathetic, I had to check the cluster bomb story out.
I learned from a story published only a week ago that Reuter’s language about “thousands of unexploded devices” may be just a wee bit careless. A recent, and slightly more detailed article on the subject establishes (a) that there are unlikely to have been “thousands” of these devices left lying about (unless you believe unfounded UN statistics and extrapolations) and (b) that, if Israel used them at all, which is open to question, they are legitimate weapons of war that Israel deployed in accordance with International law:
Experts from the United Nations have identified 10 places where Israel used cluster bombs in its air strikes on southern Lebanon and fear there could be many more, a human rights group said on Thursday.
At least 16 people have been killed or wounded by munitions which exploded long after they were fired, and the casualty figure could rise, U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said, citing U.N. de-mining teams in southern Lebanon.
“They have been able to visit only a limited region so far, and fear that the 10 sites identified in the first two days could be the tip of the iceberg,” the group said.
It urged Israel to tell the United Nations exactly where it used cluster bombs during its 34-day conflict with Hizbollah guerrillas. A U.N.-backed truce took effect this week.
“With refugees streaming home, we’re already seeing people falling victim to these dangerous duds,” Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. “A failure to act swiftly will lead to many more avoidable casualties.”
Israel has defended its right to use cluster bombs and says it only ever deploys them in accordance with international law. It has not specified whether it used them in the Lebanon war.
The U.N. estimates that 10 percent of all munitions fail to explode and says that, on that basis, there could be 8,000 to 9,000 deadly artefacts waiting to go off in southern Lebanon.
Anyway, that’s all I could find. Have any of you found more information on this subject? I’d be interested in a follow-up.