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UN Human Rights Council indicts Israel’s human rights violations in Gaza — and the ‘NY Times’ buries the report

Media Analysis
on 14 Comments

The United Nations Human Rights Council just issued a damning report that said Israel may have committed crimes against humanity during the Great March of Return in Gaza last year, and the New York Times responded with a brief, mediocre 750-word account.

U.N. investigators charged Israel with far worse crimes than anything that the government of Venezuela has been accused of, but Times coverage of the South American nation has been considerably more extensive. The Times did say that the U.N. report on Gaza

concluded that there were reasonable grounds to believe that Israeli snipers had deliberately shot at journalists, health workers, children and people with disabilities.

The Times article could have been worse. It was written by Nick Cumming-Bruce, datelined from the Human Rights Council’s headquarters in Geneva, instead of by the paper’s correspondents based in Israel. Cumming-Bruce only gave the Israeli government two paragraphs for their denials — by contrast with the Times reporters in Jerusalem, who normally spend paragraph after paragraph taking stenographic exonerations from the Israeli military.

U.N. investigators reported that Israelis killed 189 Palestinians, and wounded another 6,106 with live ammunition. By contrast, Cumming-Bruce noted dryly,

The panel found that four Israelis were wounded in the clashes, and none were killed.

The Times report explained that Israel, following its standard procedure, did not allow the U.N.’s 3-person investigative panel to enter either Israel or Gaza. So the panel

drew on 325 interviews and more than 8,000 documents, including affidavits and medical reports, as well as photographs and video and drone footage. Along with its report, it released a video compilation showing some of the shootings.

Cumming-Bruce did not quote any Israeli human rights organizations, who have been indicting the Israeli military in similar ways since the Great March of Return started last March 30. The highly respected B’Tselem has consistently pleaded with Israeli soldiers to refuse orders to fire on civilians, but the Times apparently has a long-standing policy to ignore the group. Not surprisingly, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz published a better report, which included reaction from human rights groups inside Israel.

At least the Times covered the story, even though it was inside the print edition on page A9. So far, the Washington Post has not published a single word.

CORRECTION: The Washington Post *did* report on the U.N. investigation; here it is.

H/T to Commenter “just”.

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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14 Responses

  1. just on March 1, 2019, 11:17 am

    Ruth Eglash February 28 at 1:09 PM in Wapo:

    “U.N. report on Gaza says Israeli forces may have committed war crimes …”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/un-report-on-gaza-says-israeli-forces-may-have-committed-war-crimes/2019/02/28/f7236282-3b4d-11e9-a06c-3ec8ed509d15_story.html?utm_term=.f0de0524bd81

    (comments were allowed)

    • James North on March 1, 2019, 11:40 am

      Thanks very much. I corrected the post.

    • Misterioso on March 2, 2019, 10:15 am

      @just, et al

      Speaking of “Israeli forces war crimes…”

      “What We Can Do: Fundraising for Palestine Justice Campaign- Accounting for War Crimes in Gaza”

      February 28, 2019

      https://www.gofundme.com/palestine-justice-campaign
      “Palestine Justice Campaign”

      “On July 20th, 2014 the Ziada family home in the Bureij refugee camp in Gaza was bombed by Israeli military forces. It was a targeted attack that reduced the three storey building instantly to rubble and left everyone inside it fatally wounded. Amongst the dead lay Ismail Ziada’s mother, three brothers, his sister-in-law, a 12-year-old nephew and a visiting friend.

      “Over 2,000 Palestinians were killed by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) during ‘Operation Protective Edge.’ The vast majority were non-combatants and over a quarter of all people killed in the operation were children under eighteen years of age.

      “In the fall of that same year Ismail Ziada, a Dutch citizen resident in the Netherlands, contacted Liesbeth Zegveld, a prominent lawyer, specializing in support for victims of war crimes and human rights violations. Ziada was committed to holding those responsible for the killing of his family accountable.

      “Papers were served on both the Chief of General Staff of the IDF at the time of the bombing, Benny Gantz and the Commander of the IDF Air Force, Amir Eshel. The working assumption was that neither officer would respond to the writ and the court proceedings would take place in absentia. However, just before the 3 month time period for submission of a response expired, both Israeli military officers appointed a lawyer to represent them. In November 2018, they finally submitted a response.

      “The original suggestion of initiating a criminal case was soon put to one side as previous experience indicated that it was highly unlikely that the public prosecutor would initiate criminal proceedings. However, Zegveld pointed out that the Netherlands upholds a system of universal jurisdiction in civil proceedings for Dutch citizens who are unable to gain access to justice elsewhere.

      “While the Ziada writ was focused on the fact that the bombing of the family home was illegal and a war crime according to international law, the response of the defendants focused exclusively on their alleged right to immunity and the Dutch court’s alleged lack of jurisdiction based on the argument that Ismail Ziada would have access to justice in Israel.

      “The recent Israeli court ruling against Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, who filed a compensation suit against the Israeli state over the killing of three of his daughters in IDF shelling in 2009 is proof, if proof were needed, that this is most certainly not the case.

      “In March 2019, there will be a court hearing which will be the first time the court will actually consider the issues. Should the outcome be positive for Ismail Ziada it is now expected the Israeli military defendants will pursue the case up to the Dutch Supreme Court which can take several years and significant financial resources.

      “The Ziada family has been using their own personal funds and some generous contributions from friends and supporters to pursue their case on behalf of all the victims of Israeli war crimes. If justice is to be gained for the Palestinian victims, the case needs our moral and financial support. The target is EUR 50,000.

      “The case being taken by the Ziada’s has a real chance of a providing a major breakthrough and the establishment of a legal precedent that will benefit other Palestinians and hopefully prevent further Israeli war crimes. It is important to stress that the case is not being taken for personal gain. Should the case be successful, any compensation received will be dedicated to a specially established fund for Palestinian war crime victims in general and children in particular.

      “Every donation large or small helps the Ziada family struggle for justice for the Palestinian people. Please contribute what you can and encourage others to do the same.

      “All funds raised will be transferred directly to the law firm instructed in the case, Prakken d’Oliveira Human Rights lawyers in Amsterdam. 100% of funds raised will go towards the legal fees incurred in the litigation of the case.

      “This Gofundme page has been established by a volunteer team for the Palestine Justice Campaign on behalf of Ismail Ziada in order to raise funds and awareness for the case.

      “If you prefer to contribute directly to the bank account or PayPal, please visit our website here: https://palestinejusticecampaign.wordpress.com/.

  2. JWalters on March 1, 2019, 5:04 pm

    Looks like there’s a struggle going on in the NYT between the forces of truth and the forces of deceit. I’m guessing the Zionist cult leaders are running scared, what with Israel’s dirty secrets spilling into public view. People have been known to get desperate when faced with prison.

  3. Kay24 on March 1, 2019, 7:31 pm

    The New York Times is fast becoming slanted and biased, just like Faux News. It has a token few journalists who may criticize Israel, but they have deliberately given the megaphone to pro Israel apologists like Bari Weiss, and Brett Stephens (who son is supposedly fighting for the IDF, and he should never be allowed to write any articles on the I/P conflict). The NYT is harsher in it’s criticism of Trump, and milder in it’s criticism of Israel, which reflects the general attitude in the US.
    Israel is a rogue nation given legitimacy by the support, and protection, of the US.

    • RoHa on March 1, 2019, 11:32 pm

      If you are going to reject slanted and biased sources, you won’t have any sources.

      • Kay24 on March 2, 2019, 9:26 am

        Good point, but I don’t want to read/hear from sources that send my blood pressure up either.

  4. just on March 1, 2019, 10:13 pm

    From what I read, there was more condemnation about Netanyahu and his indictment for corruption than there was for the fact that Israel has committed horrific war crimes/crimes against humanity.

    I haven’t heard a peep from anyone in Congress or the US government wrt to Israel’s indictment by the UNHRC, but I did read that Warren was upset about Netanyahu:

    “‘Corruption Threatens Democracy’: Elizabeth Warren Slams Netanyahu After Indictment Decision …

    WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren slammed Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday, hours after Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit announced the prime minister will be indicted, pending a hearing, in three corruption cases.

    Warren shared a CNN report on the latest legal developments on Twitter, writing: “First embracing right-wing extremism. Now manipulating a free press, accepting bribes, and trading government favors. The allegations against Prime Minister Netanyahu are serious and cut to the heart of a functioning democracy.” …

    The first part of her statement was a reference to Netanyahu’s recent political dealings with the racist Otzma Yehudit party, which Amy Klobuchar, another senior Democratic lawmaker and presidential hopeful, also denounced earlier this week.

    In another tweet as part of the same thread, Warren wrote: “Corruption — in Israel, in the US, or anywhere else — is a cancer that threatens democracy. We need to fight back. And we can start by having the courage to call it out wherever it occurs. Even among our allies. Especially here at home.”

    A situation in which two prominent presidential hopefuls comment on internal Israeli politics in less than a week is rare and highlights the growing criticism of Netanyahu within the Democratic Party. …”

    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-threatens-democracy-elizabeth-warren-attacks-netanyahu-for-draft-indictment-1.6981148

    I guess she still believes that Israel is a democracy! I bet that she’ll be at AIPAC anyway.

    (the article has generated quite a few comments…)

    • Marnie on March 3, 2019, 6:26 am

      @just – ‘more condemnation about Netanyahu and his indictment for corruption than there was for the fact that Israel has committed horrific war crimes/crimes against humanity.’

      Cuz it’s all about the benjamins, baby!

      • just on March 3, 2019, 12:26 pm

        True, Marnie. It seems that US MSM got the memo and the benjamins, too. I listened to the 3 MSM Sunday talkies today. Not a peep about the UNHRC report… not one. A teensy peep about Netanyahu’s indictment by Margaret Brennan on Face the Nation. No real discussion, but the usual suspects were present and accounted for. I don’t think I missed anything on Meet the Press, This Week, and Face the Nation.

        I prefer to read information, not watch and listen to propaganda and other infotainment. This was research, and it was no fun at all.

      • Marnie on March 3, 2019, 11:11 pm

        @just –
        I hear you loud and clear. Watching the news is almost as pleasant as getting your gums scraped.

  5. Kay24 on March 2, 2019, 2:24 am

    I don’t hear the members of Congress who invited Crooked Bibi to Congress, to give his war mongering speech against Iran (against the wishes of their own President), nor staunch supporters like Adelson, Kushner, Trump, Dirty Dersh, Bari Weiss, Brett Stephens, and all the other sympathizers of Israel, speaking up for Crooked Bibi. I guess they know the occupation, land grabs, and the massacre of children, will go on regardless of what happens in their favorite nation.

  6. Boomer on March 2, 2019, 6:01 am

    It isn’t just about the Times and WaPo. As usual, the pattern is broader. I did a search on Google News, and found what seemed to me like little reporting in the US MSM. I put it that convoluted way because it reflects my value judgment. If mentioned at all, it typically seems to be the MRR: minimum required reporting so they can say “oh yes, we covered that.”

  7. bcg on March 2, 2019, 10:45 am

    As long as we’re talking human rights in Israel, this outrageous article appeared in Haaretz today (you may not be able to access the link without signing in)

    (Gideon Levy) Without Saying a Word, Israeli Troops Beat Up a Blind Man in His Bed… Israeli soldiers invaded the home of a Palestinian family at night, and battered a man in the face in front of his wife and children. He’s 47, blind and on dialysis, and his toes have been amputated because of diabetes…So yes, Munzer Mizhar, 47, is a very sick man. Still, last week, that didn’t stop Israeli soldiers from pummeling him mercilessly, even after the neighbors had warned them that he was sick. Nor was his wife, an eyewitness to the attack, able to prevent the abuse of her husband despite her shouts that he was blind, too. ..

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-without-saying-a-word-israeli-troops-beat-up-a-blind-man-in-his-bed-1.6980517?=&utm_source=smartfocus&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=hda-weekend-new&utm_content=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.haaretz.com%2Fisrael-news%2F.premium-without-saying-a-word-israeli-troops-beat-up-a-blind-man-in-his-bed-1.6980517&ts=_1551541150468

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