In today’s New York Times, reporter Isabel Kershner devotes a substantial article to a new report from B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights organization, saying that Israel likely committed war crimes in its attack on Gaza last summer.
An Israeli human rights group said Israel’s attacks on residential buildings in Gaza during the 50-day war against Hamas last summer appeared in at least some instances to violate the provisions of international law and raised grave legal concerns in others, according to a report to be published on Wednesday…
[B’Tselem] investigated 70 cases in which more than 600 Palestinians were killed inside homes, a majority of them — children, women and men over the age of 60 — considered unlikely to have been involved in the fighting.
Simple as that. How much clearer can you be? A few paragraphs down, we get the denial from Israeli authorities. But then it goes back to the charges. The bulk of the story is what B’Tselem says in its 49-page report, which is titled “Black Flag: The legal and moral implications of the policy of attacking residential buildings in the Gaza Strip, summer 2014.” There’s even an interview with B’Tselem director Hagai El-Ad. And a paragraph that begins, “The B’Tselem report contains wrenching testimonies from the survivors of 13 houses that were hit.”
Of course the Times should have been doing this all along. As I reported last summer, the Times’s failure to quote B’Tselem’s reports has been a serious omission in its coverage.
In the past two years, B’Tselem has been mentioned only 20 times — and 9 of those appearances were in “The Lede,” a blog by Robert Mackey that is not part of the printed newspaper.
But better late than never. I feel like I’m reading a normal report in a normal newspaper. We salute Kershner.
Now let’s brace for the backlash. This is the kind of thing that will get hasbara worked up, and the full-scale counterattack on the Times is probably already under way. I cannot recall ever reading a news article in the Times that is so clear about Israeli human rights violations.