Remember the massacre of Jenin? According to the Palestinian narrative, the IDF killed 3,000 civilians. If there was a Palestinian condemnation of the suicide bombing of a Passover Seder which provoked the operation, it was lost in the commotion. Human Rights Watch, usually unfriendly to Israel, put the death toll in Jenin at 31 Palestinian fighters and 22 civilians. Twenty-three Israeli soldiers also died.
There was another notable occasion for the Palestinians when a family of seven died in an explosion on the beach of Gaza. A video photographer filmed a young daughter finding her family dead, screaming and throwing herself on the sand. The pictures appeared time and again on television news programs. The girl appeared in repeated interviews, and received a filmed visit from the President of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas. The Palestinian National Authority proclaimed three days of national mourning and lowered its flags to half-mast. In order to be sure that there would be no challenge to the Palestinian story, Authority personnel removed all traces of shrapnel from the beach. They did not respond to Israeli authorities wanting evidence for an investigation as to who was responsible.
The IDF and government authorities expressed their regret, and brought some of the wounded to Israeli hospitals. As usual, they stopped short of apologies. The beach was one of the places that Palestinians used to fire rockets at Israel. The IDF had warned Palestinians to stay away from what would be an open field of fire.
After an inquiry, the IDF concluded that it was not responsible. There was no crater in the sand of the type an artillery shell would create. The Palestinians did not get all the shrapnel in their combing of the beach. Some remained in the people taken to Israeli hospitals. Analysis of the metal found it was not the type used in Israeli munitions.
Another film showed Muhammad al-Durrah huddled with his father against a wall, said to be under attack by Israel. The film turned out to have been edited, and was the subject of legal actions between different French media personalities. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad_al-Durrah_incident
Now Palestinians are trying to exploit the deaths of 9 individuals on what they called the Freedom Flotilla, interrupted by the Israel navy on its way to Gaza. Initial responses are widespread condemnations of Israel, including demands for investigations by some of the prestigious individuals and organizations not waiting for such investigation before issuing their condemnations.
This story may run no less than the claim of a massacre in Jenin, the Gaza beach, or the fate of Muhammad al-Durrah. Yet the condemnations may dim to little more than lip service if the officials of serious countries listen to reports from Israel. Here it appears that people claiming to be humanitarians concerned only to bring supplies to Gaza had armed themselves with knives, rocks, sling shots, and staves, gasoline bombs and guns, and employed them all against the first wave of IDF personnel to reach the ships.
Demonstrations by Israeli Arabs and their Jewish allies, Palestinians, Turks, Jordanians and others began even before the ships were brought to the Israeli port of Ashdod. A spokesperson for the flotilla spoke with assurance from Cyprus about Israeli aggression, even though she had not been in touch with the ships since an hour before the Israelis arrived. We can expect demands for investigations, and quarrels as to who is qualified to investigate. A resolution supported by a majority of the General Assembly cannot be far behind.
And what is the truth?
Ira Sharkansky (Emeritus)
Department of Political Science
Hebrew University of Jerusalem