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‘NY Times’ produces a weak report on the Israeli soldier sentenced to 1 month in prison for murdering a Palestinian boy

Media Analysis
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The New York Times did the bare minimum today in reporting on the Israeli soldier who was sentenced to only one month in prison for murdering a young Gazan demonstrator last year. The victim was a 14-year-old boy, Othman Helles, and video evidence showed he was clearly unarmed. In the print edition, the Times headline did not include the shocking short prison sentence, and the Times used some of its other techniques to minimize the damage to Israel’s reputation.

Use the passive voice: The second paragraph reports that “. . . hundreds of Palestinians were killed during the [Great March of Return] protests. . .” Why not “Israeli soldiers killed 183 Gazans and wounded another 9204. Gazans killed 1 Israeli and wounded 11.”

Ignore the leading Israeli human rights organization: B’Tselem has issued impassioned warnings ever since the Israeli snipers first opened fire on Gazans back in 2018, including calling on soldiers to disobey orders to shoot. And just the other day, B’Tselem accused the Israeli military of wrongly dropping inquiries into 3 other killings and said the probes had only been originally opened to give “an illusion of a functioning apparatus for seeking accountability.” 

Cover up Israel’s vicious right wing: No doubt Israeli settler/colonists and others are already blasting the one-month sentence as too harsh. Let’s hear from them.

On the plus side, Times reporter David Halbfinger did give the victim’s father a chance to speak. Rami Helles said that he feared the Israeli soldier’s light punishment would continue to “encourage his colleagues to kill in cold blood.” 

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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6 Responses

  1. just on October 31, 2019, 1:56 pm

    The NYT is obviously a Zionist rag and is a tool of and for hasbarists. Thanks for digging through the detritus and finding precious little truth yet again, James.

    Compare and contrast with Maureen Clare Murphy’ s article @ EI:

    “Israeli sniper gets community service over killing of Gaza boy

    An Israeli soldier has been sentenced to a month of the military’s equivalent of community service and his rank downgraded for firing his weapon toward an unarmed boy during protests in Gaza last year.

    The child, Uthman Rami Hillis, 14, died after he was hit in the chest with a live bullet that exited through his back east of Gaza City on 13 July 2018.

    Video documenting the fatal shooting shows Hillis climbing a fence along the Gaza-Israel boundary before he falls and other protesters rush to his aid:

    [video available @ link]

    Another Palestinian, 20-year-old Muhammad Nasir Shurab, was also fatally wounded during protests in southern Gaza that day.

    The video shows that Hillis “posed no direct or mortal threat at the time he was killed,” Defense for Children International Palestine stated at the time.

    The soldier’s conviction is the first over the killing of a Palestinian during the ongoing Great March of Return protests launched on 30 March 2018.

    The unnamed soldier was convicted of “disobeying an order leading to a threat to life or health” as part of a plea bargain reached on Monday, The New York Times reported.

    The Israeli military has not admitted to killing Hillis, claiming that “no proof has been provided that the soldier’s action actually caused” the child’s death, according to the Israeli daily Haaretz.

    Unlawful killings
    Hillis is among 46 children killed by Israeli occupation forces during the Great March of Return protests. More than 200 Palestinians have lost their lives during the demonstrations.

    Only 13 of those killings have been investigated by Israel’s military police.

    “But these investigations focus only on forces on the ground, not on decision makers who dictated an illegal and shameful open fire policy,” Sarit Michaeli, international advocacy officer for the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, …

    Israeli military officials have admitted that Palestinian protesters in Gaza have been killed without justification.

    An independent UN investigation of Israel’s use of force against the Great March of Return found “the use of live ammunition by Israeli security forces against demonstrators was unlawful.”

    The commission’s report published earlier this year calls on Israel to immediately lift its blockade on Gaza – one of the key demands of the Great March of Return – and to investigate “every protest-related killing and injury, promptly, impartially and independently.”

    B’Tselem has long described the Israeli military’s internal probes as a “fig leaf” mechanism that serves to whitewash the occupation.

    The group stated this week that the military law enforcement system is “primarily aimed at defending the perpetrators, while creating the illusion of a functioning system so as to deflect criticism.”

    B’Tselem pointed to the recent closing of three case files concerning Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank in early 2018. The rights group’s investigation of those cases “found that all three killings were unjustified.”

    Ali Omar Nimer Qinu, 17, was shot with a live bullet in the head during confrontations between Palestinians and soldiers near Nablus in the northern West Bank on 11 January that year.

    Witnesses told Defense for Children International Palestine that “Soldiers were positioned on a side road near the village entrance when they fired shots from inside a military jeep at several youths standing on a hill.”

    “Protesters fled the area and returned shortly after to find Ali on the ground bleeding from his head, a witness told [Defense for Children International Palestine]. He was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.”

    Following the Israeli military’s internal probe into Qinu’s killing, B’Tselem stated that according to the army’s open-fire orders, “shooting to kill is permitted only when the lives of security forces or other persons are in danger.”

    “Even then, it is allowed only when there are no other means of averting the danger. This killing was a far cry from meeting these criteria,” B’Tselem added.

    “Expressly prohibited”
    The military also closed its investigation into the killing of Laith Abu Naim, 16, who B’Tselem says was shot in the head with a rubber-coated metal bullet from a distance of 20 meters on 30 January 2018. The teen was shot while returning to al-Mughayir village after participating in confrontations with soldiers.

    “The soldiers left the scene without providing him any medical assistance,” according to B’Tselem, which said the close-range firing of a rubber-coated metal bullet at the upper body “could be lethal and is therefore expressly prohibited by the open-fire regulations.”

    The Israeli military also closed the file of Yasin Omar al-Saradih, who was shot in the stomach by soldiers as he ran at them while carrying an iron bar during an army raid in the West Bank city of Jericho on 22 February 2018.

    Security camera footage shows the shooting of al-Saradih and soldiers kicking the injured man and beating him with their rifles. Al-Saradih was left dead or dying on the ground for at least 10 minutes, according to Al-Haq, a Palestinian human rights group that investigated his death.

    Amnesty International has stated that failure to provide medical aid–– especially intentional failure – “violates the prohibition on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment” and as such “should be investigated as a criminal offense.”

    Al-Haq said at the time that al-Saradih’s slaying may amount to a war crime, “giving rise to individual criminal responsibility at the International Criminal Court.”

    The situation in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip has been under preliminary examination by that court since 2015. Its chief prosecutor issued an unprecedented warning to Israeli leaders last year that they may face trial for the killings of unarmed protesters in Gaza.

    In March this year, the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution noting the lack of meaningful Israeli investigations into human rights abuses by its forces.

    The resolution states that “numerous legal, procedural and practical obstacles in the Israeli civil and criminal legal system [contribute] to the denial of access to justice for Palestinian victims and of their right to an effective judicial remedy.” ”

    Of course Fatou Bensouda does nothing at all. NOTHING. She’s an enabler of the first order.

    “Her term will end on 15 June 2021 …”

    Remember that this happened, too:

    “The US has revoked the entry visa for the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda.

    The decision is thought to be the US response to Ms Bensouda’s investigation into possible war crimes by American forces and their allies in Afghanistan.

    The US secretary of state had warned the US might refuse or revoke visas to any ICC staff involved in such probes.

    Ms Bensouda’s office said the ICC prosecutor would continue to her duties “without fear or favour”.

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: “If you’re responsible for the proposed ICC investigation of US personnel in connection with the situation in Afghanistan, you should not assume that you will still have or get a visa, or that you will be permitted to enter the United States.

    “We’re prepared to take additional steps, including economic sanctions if the ICC does not change its course,” he added. …”

  2. Kay24 on October 31, 2019, 6:30 pm

    Israel makes sure their vicious child killers are protected, supported, and given a joke of a sentence. There are far too many of them out and free enjoying life, while those they keep killing live in open prisons, and suffering for decades.

  3. Elizabeth Block on November 1, 2019, 10:35 am

    If the NY Times, and other respected (!) Western press organs, covered this kind of thing more thoroughly – most of the time, of course, they don’t cover them at all – Jews might start thinking about the nature of a state that kills children to defend its existence.

  4. Vera Gottlieb on November 1, 2019, 12:13 pm

    Only Jewish lives have value…For shame, israel…for shame. How much longer do you think you can escape justice???

  5. edwardm on November 2, 2019, 3:35 pm

    Business as usual for Zionism since the get-go. Are “hurt feelings” more important than children’s lives?

  6. ahadhaadam on November 7, 2019, 6:37 am

    The main subterfuge here is that the “investigation” makes it look like it was an aberration, a soldier who disobeyed commands. The cases that were “investigated” for whitewashing purposes, were simply because they were caught on tape. The fact is that Israel – and not for the first time – is using a policy of shooting, maiming and killing protestors with live ammunition (as long as they’re not Jewish of course).

    What about the hundreds of other unarmed Gazans that Israeli snipers executed? Those were all “legal” we are misled to believe. The true criminals are the ones with ties and suits, all the way up to Netanyahu and his band of gangsters, who authorized the use of live ammunition against unarmed protestors.

    Everybody remembers the scene in Schindler’s List where Amon Goth, the psychopath labor camp commander, shoots a prisoner from his porch. Israeli snipers have taken this evil to a new level that even Spielberg could not fathom: an Israeli sniper, aims and squeezes the trigger on a child, a man in wheelchair, a woman paramedic – all unarmed inmates of the Gaza Ghetto.

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