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.