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Israel failed to interview eyewitnesses to soccer boys’ slaughter

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Israel’s coverup of the killing of the four little boys playing soccer, a whitewash aided and abetted by The New York Times, continues to fall apart.

The Israeli report gave the impression that the military made an effort to contact all witnesses to the killings on a Gaza beach during the Israeli invasion last July, and that Palestinians had declined to cooperate.

But the slaughter took place right in front of a hotel where many western journalists were staying. And as Dan Cohen writes, “no effort was made to contact journalists who witnessed the incident.” Peter Beaumont of the Guardian was one of the eyewitnesses. Beaumont writes today that the Israeli military made no effort to reach him or other witnesses who could have provided firsthand information.

The Israeli claims appear at odds in several details with what journalists were able to see at the time, Beaumont says, beginning with this Israeli assertion:

“From the factual findings collected by the investigators, it revealed that the incident took place in an area that had long been known as a compound belonging to Hamas’s Naval Police and Naval Force (including naval commandos), and which was utilized exclusively by militants.”

Beaumont disputes this:

The hut, however, was in plain sight of nearby hotels housing international journalists, none of whom described seeing militants in the area at the time of the attack…

The Israeli military also claimed that the alleged Navy “compound in question spans the length of the breakwater of the Gaza City seashore, closed off by a fence and clearly separated from the beach serving the civilian population.”

That wasn’t the case, Beaumont says.

The breakwater is both easily accessible from a side lane and also is located on one of the busiest parts of the public beach in Gaza port and accessible not only to the fishermen who use it, but to local Palestinians who come to sunbathe and swim within feet of it.

He cites an Israeli claim that a container inside the alleged compound “was used to store military supplies.” Beaumont says:

The container described in the Israeli finding also appeared to contain no military equipment.

As of now, the New York Times has not yet issued a follow-up report to yesterday’s stenographic article by Jodi Rudoren simply repeating what Israel military said as gospel without making any effort to get the other side. The Times has also never reported on the Breaking the Silence report on the Gaza invasion that documented attacks on civilians who happened to be in the vicinity of targets.

We await with interest the Times‘s followup on this tragedy.

We also note that 500 other children were killed during last summer’s attack, along with 1700 adults.

James North

James North is a Mondoweiss Editor-at-Large, and has reported from Africa, Latin America, and Asia for four decades. He lives in New York City.

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31 Responses

  1. just on June 12, 2015, 3:58 pm

    Thanks James North.

    It’s crucial that this postmortem of the truth continue until the obvious conclusion.

    Israel murders innocent people, including children. Then they lie about it~ over and over and over again. This was witnessed by independent journalists and MSM journalists, many of the massacred were witnessed by family/neighbors/other victims, They use human shields and target civilians and then turn around and accuse the Palestinians of the crimes that they themselves are guilty of!

    The US, the UN, the EU, and the other regional states are either complicit or silent. Neither is acceptable. Perhaps this is the proverbial ‘tipping point’ that is needed. Maybe there will be a groundswell of protest by the witnesses shouting ‘ENOUGH’! Seriously, didn’t everybody with a tv or computer or any other device see what happened?

    ‘not in my name’. I’ve written again to the PTB. Still waiting for some action… I’m sick and tired of listening to these words wrt Israel: ‘ally’, ‘rights’, ‘security’, ‘democracy’, etc.. ad nauseam.

  2. a blah chick on June 12, 2015, 4:14 pm

    I cannot think about those dead children without the image of Stephane Richard’s bootlicking performance swimming before my eyes.

    • just on June 12, 2015, 4:32 pm

      I get that, abc.

      AFP from Gaza City in Ma’an:

      Family furious as Israel probe clears military in Gaza beach deaths…

      …’Clear they were children’

      Western journalists who witnessed the incident and its aftermath, and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the children had been playing on that area of the beach, which was not clearly separated from civilians.

      “It was absolutely crystal clear… from the figures running, that they were children,” one journalist said.

      “They were all very, very small, I thought they were much younger than they were.”

      At an IDF briefing where probes into Gaza were announced, he said, the army showcased their surveillance capability to distinguish civilians from militants.

      “There needs to be a question answered, how did they not know they were children?”

      The army said it based the investigation on testimony by soldiers and officers, media footage and other documents, but was unable to take direct witness testimony from Gazans because witnesses declined to meet.

      One Western journalist said he had volunteered himself to a senior Israeli army official as a witness, but he was never contacted.”…

  3. just on June 12, 2015, 5:00 pm

    Beaumont has another article up:

    “Gaza beach killings: no justice in Israeli exoneration, says victim’s father

    The father of one of four Palestinian children killed on a Gaza City beach during last summer’s war between Hamas and Israel has said he is outraged that an Israeli investigation into the killings has been closed without finding anyone culpable for their deaths.

    The comments by Mohammed Bakr came as new questions emerged over both the scope and the accuracy of the findings of the Israeli military police inquiry.

    “There is no justice in the internal investigation,” Bakr said on Friday. “We are counting on the ICC [international criminal court] and human rights. We are not afraid and we are confident we will win because the world is with us.”…

    …But among troubling issues to have emerged since the Israeli military closed its investigation is the fact that not all witnesses to the incident were interviewed by Israeli investigators, despite comments by Efroni’s office suggesting it would do so.

    The incident came to global prominence because it took place in front of a number of international media organisations, including the Guardian and the New York Times.

    The New York Times’s Pulitzer prize-winning photographer Tyler Hicks, who witnessed the incident, though from a different angle to the Guardian, wrote in a blog at the time: “A small metal shack with no electricity or running water on a jetty in the blazing seaside sun does not seem like the kind of place frequented by Hamas militants, the Israel Defence Forces’ intended targets.

    “Children, maybe four feet tall, dressed in summer clothes, running from an explosion, doesn’t fit the description of Hamas fighters, either.”

    Although pro-Israel social media activists at first made strenuous efforts to claim the deaths were the result of one of Hamas’s own rockets falling short, the IDF later admitted its own munitions were responsible.

    Several weeks after the attack – announcing it was launching investigations into a number of controversial incidents in which civilians died – the military advocate general’s office briefed more than a dozen journalists. The senior Israeli officer was asked by reporters then if investigators would seek to contact all witnesses. The officer replied in the affirmative.

    In reality, however, it appears no effort was made to contact a number of the journalists who witnessed the incident – including this correspondent. A handful of Palestinian witnesses supplied information by affadavit. …

    …Several foreign journalists present at the time of the incident disputed that claim to the Guardian on Friday, echoing the Guardian’s own observations.

    Indeed, far from being used “exclusively” by Hamas, the site of the initial attack – an area of several makeshift structures on the breakwater itself and where the first boy died – is regularly used by fishermen, and is immediately adjacent to, and accessible from, the public beach in Gaza port. …

    …Usually reliable sources told the Guardian on Friday that they believed the container had been “incriminated” by Israeli intelligence, making it a potential target because it belonged to the equivalent of Hamas’s coastguard, even if it was empty. Its incrimination, in effect, meant anyone approaching it could be engaged.

    Pictures posted on Facebook on Friday by the Daily Telegraph correspondent Robert Tait, who photographed the scene of the strike in its immediate aftermath, show twisted metal and scattered rubble but no sign of any military material.

    Another question – unanswered by the IDF – relates to aerial oversight of the scene before the attack. According to the IDF, “civilian presence in the area had been ruled out”, including by the deployment of “real-time visual surveillance”.

    According to multiple media and other witnesses, children had been playing football in the vicinity immediately before the attack.

    One Israeli military expert at the time expressed his surprise that those conducting the surveillance were unable to distinguish between children and Hamas militants, when the children were clearly identifiable as they fled from several hundred metres away before the second strike.

    An Israeli military spokesman had not replied to questions put to it by the Guardian at the time of publication.”

    (comments not open) Wonder how long it’ll take Rudoren to retract her trash.

  4. Bornajoo on June 12, 2015, 5:53 pm

    “Wonder how long it’ll take Rudoren to retract her trash”

    She knows exactly what she’s doing Just. She’s published the bare faced hasbara lies and that will now be the *truth*

    Anything else will not be noticed. Even if there is a minor retraction (unlikely) it will be a couple of lines that will have no real effect

    Mission complete.

  5. ritzl on June 12, 2015, 7:42 pm

    Isn’t one of the prerequisites for ICC prosecution an inability to pursue these cases domestically?

    I wonder whether this IDF internal “investigation” satisfies/supports the requirements to initiate prosecution, or the requirements to avoid it.

  6. just on June 12, 2015, 8:05 pm

    via Belal Dabour, MD:

    “Jonathan Miller ‏
    #IDF says strike which killed 4 boys accorded with Israeli + internatl law. Here’s my report that day. @Channel4News”

    (I was thinking about how very outraged the Palestinian people must be, and then I thought about the health care workers that tried so tirelessly, heroically, and desperately to save lives…)

  7. just on June 12, 2015, 8:31 pm

    In somewhat related news, and hypocritical as usual:

    “Pro-Israel Groups Criticize NBC Reporter for Keynoting American-Arab Conf.

    Ayman Mohyeldin, a veteran foreign correspondent with NBC News and MSNBC anchor, caused some controversy during Israel’s summer war against Hamas, after delivering an emotional report about an Israeli attack that resulted in the deaths of four Palestinian children.

    Following the report, Mohyeldin, perceived as a hero among Pro-Palestinian Americans, has been pulled by NBC News from reporting within Gaza but was quickly reinstated, with NBC denying that his temporary reassignment had any relation to the ongoing dispute between Israel and the Palestinians.

    Mohyeldin – who previously served as a reporter for Al Jazeera – has gained a reputation for being unabashedly pro-Palestinian, sometimes singling out Israel, during his reports. And a scheduled upcoming speech to an anti-Israel group, triggered some criticism.

    The veteran reporter is scheduled to deliver the keynote speech at the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee’s dinner on Friday evening, a group considered by many to be anti-Israel, the Washington Free Beacon reported, further triggering criticism.

    The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting (CAMERA) criticized Mohyeldin acceptance to be the featured speaker.

    As an NBC reporter, will Mohyeldin “receive an honorarium? Will he receive an award of some kind?” Eric Rozenman, CAMERA’s Washington director told the Free Beacon. “If so, would either violate NBC guidelines on conflict of interest? Has he spoken to any pro-Israel groups? If not, does this speech create at least the appearance of a conflict of interest [or a] lack of partiality? What does he plan to say?”…

    …The Israel Project (TIP) a non-profit pro-Israel educational organization, also criticized his scheduled appearance. “Perhaps his bosses at NBC News would be pleased if the ADC presents him with the ‘courage’ award the[y] gave Helen Thomas when she told Israeli Jews they should ‘go back to Europe where they came from’ or if he shares the stage with a fellow ADC speaker praising Hezbollah,” said Josh Block, president and CEO of the organization. “Otherwise, how can one explain their approving his speech to an anti-Israel group with a long history of events that praise terrorism.””

    blergh. Link to Beacon’s awful article here

    • DaBakr on June 12, 2015, 11:59 pm

      Have to say, it is hypocritical as I imagine these critics wouldn’t care if e.g. Jeff Goldberg* was given an award by ADL. I fail to see the difference.

      * I’m no fan of JG. Have no opinion on Mohyeldin at all.

    • Kay24 on June 13, 2015, 7:28 am

      This is an attempt to silence, intimidate, and make an example of, a journalist who is simply giving Americans an entirely different perspective, and the truth, to what Israel has been doing.
      Helen Thomas was denigrated, her decades of work diminished, and made into a pariah in the media. I hope Ayman holds his ground and keeps doing what he is doing so well.

      I have a few nasty words for those who stifle free speech and makes a criminal nation look like a victim, but I don’t want MDW to censor me!

      • RockyMissouri on June 13, 2015, 10:45 am

        Ayman is in an unenviable position. And I respect him, even more. I would rather hear from a person who is touched by human suffering, than many of the so called, dispassionate- objective journalists.

      • Kay24 on June 13, 2015, 4:41 pm

        He is indeed a very good journalist/reporter. He did an amazing job during the Gaza massacre by Israel. Good looking lad too. Heh.

      • gamal on June 13, 2015, 11:19 pm

        “Good looking lad too. Heh.”

        yes obviously as he is, going by the name, a Lucky ( and right handed or is it on the right and blessed) Reviver of Faith, of course he cuts some style, Egyptian don’t ya know.

  8. RoHa on June 12, 2015, 11:46 pm

    Witnesses? We don’t need no stinking witnesses. We know what happened, and it’s what we tell you happened. Why let a bunch of anti-Semite journalists confuse the issue?

  9. RockyMissouri on June 13, 2015, 10:31 am

    Thank you for daring to speak the truth. And all of the commenters fill my heart with hope.

    You are so very eloquent. Thank you for caring, you uplift us all.

  10. Vera Gottlieb on June 13, 2015, 11:19 am

    What is the matter with this frigging country? Afraid of the truth? And I continue to be ashamed of my Jewish background.

    • Walid on June 13, 2015, 11:57 am

      Nothing wrong with your background, Vera, the problem is with what the Zionists are doing in its name. Moslems have ISIS and Nusra giving them a bad name and the Jews have the Zionists doing the same to Judaism.

    • bintbiba on June 13, 2015, 12:22 pm

      No, no, Vera. You are not a Zionist . !!

      You should be proud of who you are and what you are not. Strong of character and integrity . That is what you are.

      This Palestinian sends love and appreciation to you and to those like you…of which there are quite a few !

      Just lock arms together and go forth in the name of Justice… Peace WILL come in the end.

      • bintbiba on June 13, 2015, 12:28 pm

        PS. Vera.

        You know that your name means TRUTH (ful) !
        You embody and project your name so well .
        Please be proud of who you are !

    • just on June 13, 2015, 12:36 pm

      Never be ashamed of your “Jewish background”, Vera. That’s unfair to your heritage, and to you.

      You, and all of us, need to examine our history and our present and come to terms with it in toto.

      You are you, separate from your “background”. Judaism can stand alone as a religion. Its practice is quite different in some circles, as has been that of Muslims and Christians, Buddhists, and atheists, etc. Some of it really boils down to interpretations by screwy and flawed humans, and then everything goes splat, or worse. It’s corrupting, to say the very least.

      • bintbiba on June 13, 2015, 12:43 pm

        +1 Just .
        Truly well said.

      • echinococcus on June 13, 2015, 4:54 pm

        You forget one thing: when things are done in your name and you aren’t doing enough to stop the nonsense, shame is the least one may experience.

    • echinococcus on June 13, 2015, 4:52 pm


      Commendable. Whoever doesn’t feel that biting shame must be irresponsible.

      • Walid on June 13, 2015, 5:14 pm

        Echinococcus, I feel anger and repulsion for what ISIS/Nusra are doing in the name of Islam, but I feel no shame whatever and I don’t consider myself irresponsible.

      • echinococcus on June 13, 2015, 5:42 pm


        That’s nonsense. Since when does Daesh enjoy the support of an overwhelming majority of Muslims? Well it is being supported by Israel and the US, but there is no comparison in the level of support, is there?
        Besides, the “Jewish background” thingy is not even religious, it’s racial. No matter how many times you proclaim your apostasy, the Zionists but also the religious continue to claim you as long as you were, as repeated here by Rabbi Fredman, born to a Jewish woman. It’s officially racist. And practically the entire “Western” world pretends to accept the Zionist claim.
        One should be ashamed when someone claims you as an accomplice and you didn’t manage to silence him.

      • catalan on June 13, 2015, 6:10 pm

        “One should be ashamed when someone claims you as an accomplice and you didn’t manage to silence him. – ”
        Is this an original thought? I have never heard of this before. Is there any writing by ethicists or philosophers on the subject of shame that you are referencing?
        Generally though, prefacing a phrase with the word “should” is odd. Why “should” they? Because anonymous Internet writers said so?

      • Walid on June 13, 2015, 6:21 pm

        It’s very hard to get into a discussion with someone that begins his first sentence with an insult. Anyway, you can alternate between “Moslems” and “Arabs” and the end result would still be the same. The same goes for Vera whether whatever she’s feeling is out of religious, racial or any other type of affiliation. You’re telegraphing to Vera that she’s right in feeling ashamed for something she has nothing to do with.

        Who’s claiming apostasy?

      • annie on June 13, 2015, 6:53 pm

        this sounds really foolish echin. where did you come up w/these ideas?

      • echinococcus on June 13, 2015, 7:02 pm

        What, precisely, is foolish in it, Annie?
        How easy is it to say your name and see the other person thinking “another Zionist”?

      • echinococcus on June 13, 2015, 7:04 pm


        Where’s the insult? At any rate, a Muslim can claim apostasy and he sure won’t continue to be counted as Muslim. Big difference between religion and racial/tribal group.

    • RoHa on June 13, 2015, 7:51 pm

      “What is the matter with this frigging country?”

      I presume you mean Israel. Most of this website is devoted to spelling out what is wrong with Israel.

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