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‘NYT’ gives new life to old propaganda — Terror Tunnels from Gaza

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on 13 Comments

A New York Times article the other day on Hamas fighters taking workshops in international law represents another effort by the paper of record to harden the concrete around a lie: Palestinian fighters used Terror Tunnels during last year’s Israeli invasion of Gaza.

Jodi Rudoren reported on August 15:

Besides participating in the [Red Cross] workshops, Hamas has altered its propaganda in the aftermath of the war. New talking points stress that tunnel attacks last summer targeted military positions, not civilian communities, and argue — dubiously — that rockets fly toward civilian areas because the Gaza groups lack guiding technology.

Still, Hamas leaders routinely praise attacks on Israelis, and there are widespread reports that Qassam is rebuilding tunnels to infiltrate Israeli territory.

Hold on a minute. The next logical step for Rudoren would be to cite widely-accepted casualty figures from the war. But she doesn’t. Because those figures reveal that thousands of Palestinian civilians were killed but just six Israeli civilians — and none by fighters emerging from alleged Terror Tunnels. The remaining 67 Israeli casualties were soldiers engaged by Palestinian militants — who sometimes used the tunnels as a way of fighting back. Max Blumenthal’s important new book The 51 Day War includes accounts of several of these actions.

The Israeli government, aided and abetted by Thomas Friedman and many others, spread propaganda last summer saying the tunnels were aimed at kibbutzes and kindergartens in Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted comical cartoons making this charge, but again, there’s no evidence that fighters used the tunnels to attack civilians. More than a year ago writers like Omar Robert Hamilton and Norman Finkelstein were pointing out the farcical nature of the Israeli claim. Hamilton in early August 2014:

If the purpose of Israel’s operation is to destroy the tunnels, why has it cost more than 1800 Palestinian lives?

While Finkelstein wrote a book on Gaza, Method and Madness, that exploded the myth:

The tunnels that concerned Israel were those within Gaza, which threatened its capacity to invade the territory unopposed, not those which crossed from Gaza into Israel. Of the twelve tunnels that passed under the border with Israel, Finkelstein makes the simple, commonsensical point that ‘Israel could easily have sealed them from its side, just as Egypt after the July coup sealed some one thousand tunnels passing from Gaza into the Sinai’.

Rudoren’s latest whitewash leaves the impression that the Terror Tunnels were a fact. They were not.

James North
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13 Responses

  1. ritzl
    ritzl
    August 18, 2015, 1:15 pm

    Thanks for keeping up the pressure, James North. So necessary.

    Nitpick: When writing about these deliberate falsehoods, could you all please use the affirmative, independent refutation instead of the dependent, restatement of the allegation?

    Where this, …there’s no evidence that fighters used the tunnels to attack civilians.” becomes this, “All evidence shows the tunnels were only used to attack military targets.”

    Thanks again. Great work!

  2. eljay
    eljay
    August 18, 2015, 1:28 pm

    Funds that were intended to aid Holocaust survivors
    were instead used by Israel’s government
    to build weapons of mass destruction
    to murder Palestinian children.

  3. John Turnbull
    John Turnbull
    August 18, 2015, 2:35 pm

    “… and argue — dubiously — that rockets fly toward civilian areas because the Gaza groups lack guiding technology.”

    I thought that is was the impossibility of aiming these things at soldiers that made their use a war crime. They terrorize and can kill civilians rather than advancing a military objective.

    Isn’t that why the IDF’s use of mortar shells against heavily populated areas is also a war crime?

  4. Les
    Les
    August 18, 2015, 4:53 pm

    Who paid for the Jewish terror tunnels of Warsaw where the guns used against the Nazi occupiers of the Warsaw Ghetto were hidden?

  5. straightline
    straightline
    August 18, 2015, 6:33 pm

    I don’t have a map of where the tunnels are, but did they cross the boundaries that Israel agreed under the Partition Plan? Perhaps talknic could help.

    • Kris
      Kris
      August 18, 2015, 7:51 pm

      @straightline: :I don’t have a map of where the tunnels are, but did they cross the boundaries that Israel agreed under the Partition Plan? Perhaps talknic could help.”

      Straightline, that’s a great question! I hope someone will come up with the answer; I’d love to know!

    • talknic
      talknic
      August 19, 2015, 9:53 pm

      @ straightline I don’t have a map of where the tunnels were and I doubt the Israelis will show theirs.

      • Ian Berman
        Ian Berman
        October 15, 2015, 2:14 pm

        They did cross into Israel, but the question is whether they were used for completely permissible military attacks or the war crime of civilian attacks as the Israelis and the NYT portrayed them.

        Quoting Glenn Greenwald’s interview of Max Blumenthal

        [After Baruch Goldstein, an Israeli settler killed 29 worshippers and wounded 125 more in a mosque in Hebron, the Al Qassam brigades, the military wing of Hamas turned to attacking civilians. This lasted until a new leader changed policies. In 2005] “Al-Qassam dropped the tactic of suicide bombing and attacking soft Israeli targets, and decided to fight the Israeli military directly. This required the establishment of a sophisticated tunnel network underneath the Gaza Strip to mount ambushes and to stage infiltration into Israeli territory.

        Now this is important. Many people have seen the attack on the Nahal Oz Israeli military base by an al-Qassam ambush team that had infiltrated into Israeli territory across to Nahal Oz, where there is a kibbutz of Israeli civilians and an Israeli military base which is used to attack Gaza.

        This team of Qassam commandos was wearing Israeli uniforms, I think, with Go Pro cameras attached to their helmets. They chose not to attack the civilians in the kibbutz. They could have killed dozens of civilians, but that’s not where the orders were. The orders were to attack soldiers.

        They burst into the military base, killed every soldier they confronted, losing only one man, and then ran back into the tunnel, back to the Gaza Strip, and this operation, the video of it, was deeply inspiring to young Palestinians who had only seen, throughout their lives, video of Palestinians being humiliated by Israeli soldiers.

        That was the psychological importance of this operation. And beyond that, it showed that the Gaza Strip’s armed factions were capable of confronting one of the most powerful militaries in the world and humiliating it. In the battle of Shuja’iyya nearly 30 Israeli soldiers were killed, and 100 wounded. The reason that Shuja’iyya was destroyed was because the Israeli military had to retreat in terror and then blanket the entire area with artillery shells.

        So, the development of the al-Qassam brigades is one of the untold stories of this war. If we look at the casualty total of Israeli citizens, we see that about 72 Israeli citizens died. Sixty-seven of them were combat soldiers, which is evidence that soldiers and not civilians were targeted.”

        https://theintercept.com/2015/07/08/transcript-max-blumenthal-gaza/

  6. Citizen
    Citizen
    August 19, 2015, 3:26 pm

    Whatever, the historical fact remains, even if US main media ignores it, that the native Palestinians are resistance fighters; the state of Israel is the invader, land-stealer, oppressor, occupier.

  7. Pixel
    Pixel
    August 19, 2015, 11:26 pm

    When you’re desperate (or bored), you pull out everything you’ve got.

  8. Boo
    Boo
    August 20, 2015, 4:07 pm

    Next, I’m sure, Rudoren will be warning of Gazan terror tunnels from which Palestinian cadres will emerge in full scuba gear!

  9. Ian Berman
    Ian Berman
    October 15, 2015, 2:15 pm

    Excellent article. I have quoted it below my repost of the true use of the tunnels:

    Quoting Glenn Greenwald’s interview of Max Blumenthal

    [After Baruch Goldstein, an Israeli settler killed 29 worshippers and wounded 125 more in a mosque in Hebron, the Al Qassam brigades, the military wing of Hamas turned to attacking civilians. This lasted until a new leader changed policies. In 2005] “Al-Qassam dropped the tactic of suicide bombing and attacking soft Israeli targets, and decided to fight the Israeli military directly. This required the establishment of a sophisticated tunnel network underneath the Gaza Strip to mount ambushes and to stage infiltration into Israeli territory.

    Now this is important. Many people have seen the attack on the Nahal Oz Israeli military base by an al-Qassam ambush team that had infiltrated into Israeli territory across to Nahal Oz, where there is a kibbutz of Israeli civilians and an Israeli military base which is used to attack Gaza.

    This team of Qassam commandos was wearing Israeli uniforms, I think, with Go Pro cameras attached to their helmets. They chose not to attack the civilians in the kibbutz. They could have killed dozens of civilians, but that’s not where the orders were. The orders were to attack soldiers.

    They burst into the military base, killed every soldier they confronted, losing only one man, and then ran back into the tunnel, back to the Gaza Strip, and this operation, the video of it, was deeply inspiring to young Palestinians who had only seen, throughout their lives, video of Palestinians being humiliated by Israeli soldiers.

    That was the psychological importance of this operation. And beyond that, it showed that the Gaza Strip’s armed factions were capable of confronting one of the most powerful militaries in the world and humiliating it. In the battle of Shuja’iyya nearly 30 Israeli soldiers were killed, and 100 wounded. The reason that Shuja’iyya was destroyed was because the Israeli military had to retreat in terror and then blanket the entire area with artillery shells.

    So, the development of the al-Qassam brigades is one of the untold stories of this war. If we look at the casualty total of Israeli citizens, we see that about 72 Israeli citizens died. Sixty-seven of them were combat soldiers, which is evidence that soldiers and not civilians were targeted.”

    https://theintercept.com/2015/07/08/transcript-max-blumenthal-gaza/

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