Sunday, June 23, 2019

Where is a war crime not a war crime? In NY Times coverage of Hamas - by Gilead Ini

The paper makes a point of enlightening readers on international law — at least when it comes to Israeli actions

Gilead Ini..
21 June '19..

A story in today’s New York Times refers to Hamas rocket fire into Israel and its imprisonment of two Israelis. But David Halbfinger, the newspaper’s Jerusalem bureau chief and author of today’s article, avoids telling readers that these are both violations of international law.

Writing about a press conference held by the head of Hamas yesterday, Halbfinger notes that the Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh, “ignored questions about whether Hamas, in launching rockets at Israel, fires them indiscriminately or intentionally at civilians, and whether it endangers its own civilian population by firing rockets from residential neighborhoods.”

Later, Halbfinger references “Israelis being held by Hamas in hopes of a prisoner swap — two soldiers believed to be dead and two civilians thought to be alive,” and explains that Haniyeh during the press conference “refused to say definitively whether the four are alive, a matter of intense interest in Israel.”

It is disingenuous for the New York Times to treat the question of Hamas’s targeting as if it were unanswered. And it is hypocritical for them to avoid explaining the international law implications of those rocket attacks. Haniyeh is free to “ignored questions” about who is being targeted with his rockets. But Halbfinger is certainly aware that those rockets are both indiscriminate and fired toward civilian centers — and that such rocket fire is a war crime.

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