Once again, there are competing narratives between supporters and opponents of Israel. This time, the subject is what has happened in the last few days along the border between Israel and Gaza.
More specifically, we know that 17 Palestinians have been killed and hundreds wounded. This is a fact that is not in dispute. The only question is why they were killed. More to the point, was the Israeli Army justified in using lethal force?
Supporters of Israel say they were. They make the claim that many of the Palestinians were terrorists trying to break though the fence in order to kill Israelis. Opponents claim that Israel attacked a peaceful protest and killed civilians indiscriminately.
Israel has a right to defend itself and maintain civil order, but it also has an obligation to respect peaceful protests and not use live ammunition on unarmed demonstrators
That’s true. But was it a “peaceful” protest and were the casualties “unarmed demonstrators”?
For the media, this is the key question. And it can be easily answered. Here are some more facts:
1. Yes: Palestinians were trying to breach the border fence. This video is clear evidence.
2. Yes: Some Palestinian — armed — terrorists successfully infiltrated Israel.
You can read the AP story here. No one is denying that these terrorists had crossed the fence in order to kill Israelis.
3. Yes: Among the casualties were a number of Hamas terrorists.
These are some of the dead that Hamas admits (actually boasts) were killed. Are we to believe these were “peaceful demonstrators”? Other casualties included members of the DFLP and Islamic Jihad. The terror organizations admitted it.
Here is another example of a “peaceful demonstrator.”
4. Yes: The goal of the mass protest was the destruction of Israel.
The organizers claim that the protest was to be peaceful, demanding a lifting of the blockade on Gaza and the right of Palestinians to return to homes lost in Israel’s Independence war. Yet both these goals are dire threats to Israel.
The blockade was put in place to stop the transfer of weapons that Hamas has used to attack Israel. Should millions of Palestinians and their descendants “return” to land they abandoned 70 years ago, Israel would cease to exist.
But the most telling indicator of the nature of the march was that it was organized by Hamas. Hamas openly states its goal is the destruction of Israel. This is not new or surprising. For decades, Hamas has been behind the most deadly terrorist attacks against Israelis. Hamas launched multiple wars against Israel, firing rockets against Israeli population centers.
And then there are the tunnels. Hamas has spent millions of dollars digging tunnels under the border. The goal is to send terrorists through these tunnels to kidnap and kill Israelis. Just ask Gilad Shalit who was dragged into Gaza through a tunnel and held captive for over 5 years by Hamas.
The bottom line is that Israeli fears of Hamas infiltrations are well-founded. It makes no difference when the New York Times says:
No one actually crossed the fence on Friday.
Terrorists crossed the border earlier and were attempting to do so again. Must Israeli solders wait until sections of the fence are destroyed and terrorists come rushing though before acting?
The other side also has a story and I would be remiss not to mention it.
This account from 972 magazine tells the other narrative — that of Israeli snipers killing Palestinians for no valid reason.
The account is based on 2 videos. One video has been set to music and it seems like a lot of context has been removed. The article takes these 2 videos as “evidence” and then concludes:
But if the above videos teach us anything, it is that Israel needed no pretext for shooting and killing those 16 protesters
However, even if the videos are accurate depictions of innocent Palestinians being killed, they do not represent all the casualties. When even the leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad are boasting that their “fighters” were among the casualties, it is hard to accept the conclusions of the 972 article.
I would not be surprised if there were indeed innocent Palestinian civilians included in the casualties. Yet who bears the responsibility for their deaths? The Israeli army defending the border against terrorist infiltration or the terror group who ordered the civilians to enter a firing zone?
Perhaps the truth is that a mixture of terrorists and civilians were killed as some tried to dismantle sections of the fence protecting Israel from armed infiltrations.
But I don’t think anyone could credibly deny that whatever the intentions, the overall theme of the day was violent and threatening. I saw no pictures of Palestinians holding signs saying “Give peace a chance.”
Often in this region of the world, there are competing narratives that give diametrically opposite views on a news event. The responsibility of the media covering the events is to report the facts while trying to remain neutral. If one side is making an argument not supported by the preponderance of evidence, it need not be reported.
While some facts may be in dispute, the overwhelming body of evidence leads to a conclusion that the tragic deaths of a few Palestinian civilians was a small and terrible component of a justified response to the threat of infiltration by armed terrorists.
This article was originally published in the Times of Israel.