Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Ma'an loses its objectivity

Ma'an News has been, by far, the most objective news source in the PA. But since the Hamas takeover of Gaza, its remaining stringers there dare not say anything that could get them killed, and Ma'an will take unfounded Arab claims of Israeli attacks at face value.

In the last week there have been two examples: one where Hamas claimed that Israel fired on a car in southern Gaza, killing a family of five, and yesterday when a PRC shooting at the Erez crossing was blamed on Israel. In this latter case, Ma'an quotes Ha'aretz in reporting Israel's denial but it dishonestly ignores the very evidence that Ha'aretz mentions.

The Israeli soldiers opened fire on the Palestinian civilians while they were waiting in an area known as the 'sleeve' at Erez Crossing. The Gazans were trying to leave through Israel and take up residence in the Palestinian West Bank.

Israeli denial

Israel has denied responsibility for the attack. However, the killed and injured Palestinians were hit with Israeli military bullets.

According to an Israeli investigation, reported in Israeli daily newspaper, Haaretz, on Tuesday, Israeli soldiers came under fire where they were stationed, several hundred metres from the Palestinian civilians. No injuries were reported among the Israeli troops.

Israeli soldiers claimed that they returned fire towards the 'assailants'. Officials from the Israeli forces said that the issue of the assassinated civilian is an internal Palestinian problem, which has nothing to do with the Israeli military.
Responsibility for the attack was later claimed by the Popular Resistance Committees, a grassroots paramilitary organization.....

An initial investigation by the commander of the northern brigade of the Gaza Division, Colonel Menachem Katz, concluded that IDF troops were not responsible for the shooting incident.

Earlier, Palestinian sources said the Palestinian civilians were hit by IDF bullets.

According to the investigation, an IDF position in the area also came under fire, several hundred meters from where the Palestinian civilians were waiting. No IDF troops were wounded.

IDF soldiers fired a limited number of rounds against the assailants.

Palestinian sources said a gunman on a bicycle came close to the area where the civilians were waiting and threw a grenade and fired several bursts at the people.

The dead Palestinian was named as Jihad al-Madhoun, a relative of Samih al-Madhoun, a senior member of the Fatah-linked Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, who was lynched by Hamas several days ago.

Since Hamas wrested control of the Gaza Strip from the rival Fatah movement last week, the Erez Crossing has been crowded with Gazans trying to get away. Israel has let only a few through, citing its own security concerns.

Masked Hamas gunmen have erected a roadblock outside the terminal to keep waves of people from rushing to the border, and to look for Fatah officials trying to escape.

On several occasions, gunmen, some from Hamas and others from warring clans, have run into the tunnel, which leads to the border terminal, and fired at those waiting, only to be driven off by IDF fire and tear gas, witnesses said.