Tuesday, 4 November 2008

"Blood on Their Hands": report damns Israel's killing of children

Media Lens have produced another outstanding Alert, citing a major report on Israel's calculated targeting of civilians, most notably children, in Gaza and the West Bank. It comes with a searing commentary from the ML Editors on the monumental silence of the mainstream media.

Which prompted this letter and set of simple questions to the BBC's Middle East Correspondent, Jeremy Bowen (with similar enquiries to David Mannion, Editor in Chief, ITN News, and Jim Gray, Editor, Channel 4 News).

Dear Jeremy,

The latest Media Lens Alert has highlighted a damning report, Blood on Their Hands, by the internationally-respected Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, detailing the deliberate, systematic killing of children across the Occupied Territories.

The content and message of this report should speak for itself. But, as Media Lens amplify:

“Since the Second Intifada, which began in September 2000, Israeli forces have killed 859 children in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The child death toll rose dramatically during the first six months of 2008, mostly as the result of a large-scale Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip. The massive assault, code-named 'Operation Winter Heat', was launched on February 27. The Israeli military killed more children (47) in the Gaza Strip during the first four months of 2008 than during the whole of 2007 (32 children). A total of 110 civilians were killed during 'Operation Winter Heat' in February-March 2008. (See our earlier Media Alerts: 'Israel's Illegal Assault On The Gaza "Prison"', March 3, 2008, http://www.medialens.org/alerts/ 08/080303_israels_illegal_assault.php; and 'Israeli Deaths Matter More', March 11, 2008, http://www.medialens.org/alerts/ 08/080311_israeli_deaths_matter.php)”

The Alert continues:

“But the report is even more damning than that. It concludes that Israeli forces "deliberately target unarmed civilians, including children, as part of their policy of collective punishment of the entire Palestinian civilian population." The human rights investigation also concludes that: "There is also strong and consistent evidence to suggest that [Israeli forces] deliberately kill Palestinian children in reprisal for the deaths of Israeli civilians or members of the [Israeli forces], which amounts to a war crime." (PCHR, op. cit., p. 46)”

In light of these damning conclusions and ML's illuminations:

1. Can you tell me where and when the BBC provided coverage of this report?

2. Do you agree with the report's evidence that Israeli forces "deliberately target unarmed civilians, including children, as part of their policy of collective punishment of the entire Palestinian civilian population."?

3. If you accept these findings, do you think Israel's violations should be more specifically and regularly highlighted by the BBC?

4. In similar vein, do you believe the failure of Britain, the US and wider international community to condemn and exert pressure on Israel over these killings should be made prominent in BBC reports?

5. I note that most BBC online reports have taken to stating that the Occupation is illegal under international law – with the “Israel disputes this” caveat. When a Palestinian child is killed by the Israeli Defence Forces, should BBC reports also state that such killings are illegal under the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention and 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) – and that Israel is a signatory to these Conventions and Protocols?

6. Given the report's key message - corroborated by multiple other respected studies - that Israel deliberately targets civilians, notably children, do you believe the public is getting unfair coverage of the Palestinian case – as indicated by the Glasgow Media Group poll?

As ever, I'd be greatly interested in your valued thoughts on these matters.


John Hilley

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