The NY Times headline is in huge, bolded text: “Israeli Attack on Militants Kills 4 Civilians.” The story, however, doesn’t quite jive with the accusation that Israel, a la Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, Hamas, whatever, targeted civilians:
The Israeli military killed five Palestinians in the Gaza Strip today in operations directed against militants. However, four of the dead were civilians, including three teenagers who were tending sheep, according to Palestinian medical workers.
In northern Gaza, Palestinian militants fired four rockets into southern Israel, damaging a college and a water pipe. Afterward, the military said, Israeli soldiers spotted Palestinians retrieving the rocket launcher, and Israeli forces fired artillery rounds from the Israeli side of the border.
Three teenage Palestinians were killed, according to Kamal Adwan Hospital in northern Gaza, which said the three were sheep herders. They were identified as Zidan Abu Rashid, 16, Ala Abu Dahruj, 16, and Muhammad Masaleh, 15. More than a dozen sheep were also killed in the strike near the Jabaliya refugee camp, according to the medical workers.
Palestinian militants frequently fire rockets and then immediately flee, leaving the launcher behind because they fear a rapid Israeli response.
The launchers are often retrieved later. The militants may do it themselves, or have others fetch it for them.
The Israeli military said it targeted the Palestinians because they were spotted handling the rocket launcher after it had been used to fire on Israel. However, the military said it did not know whether those retrieving the launcher were the same ones who fired it earlier.
So what do we really know?
We know that Israel was responding to rockets that Palestinian terrorists fired into Israel.
We know that the three people killed were not mere children, they were older teenage boys. I don’t care what the heck they were allegedly doing with those sheep. It’s unlikely that older teenage boys in Gaza are innocent non-combatants.
We also know that, whether they did it of their own volition or because the terrorists forced them to (in which case the blood is on the terrorists’ hands), these “innocent” civilians died because they had their hands on rocket launchers.
Lastly, we know that this story-line about massacred innocents comes from the ever trustworthy Arab medical workers (that last, of course, being said with an incredibly sarcastic intonation). Frankly, if I were the NY Times and kept boasting about the quality of my reportage, I’d be more than a bit suspicious about this story’s bona fides.