Sunday, January 03, 2010

Anniverary of Maqadmah Mosque episode

Ma'an is providing a series of articles about Operation Cast Lead that looks at events through the prism of the Goldstone Report one year after they occurred. Today they are reproducing and embellishing Goldstone's extremely flawed analysis of the incident at the Al Maqadmah Mosque from January 3rd, 2009.

All of the news stories from the time claimed that Israel bombed the mosque itself, although a careful reading of the Goldstone report and other sources shows that the IDf bombed the entrance to the mosque and that most of the casualties occurred on the outside.

I have already noted some severe problems with Goldstone's account. Besides the fact that it appeared that the countthat Goldstone used of 15 victims may be an exaggeration,
Goldstone doesn't bother to point out that 6 of the dead were actually terrorists: (numbers are PCHR list numbers)

458 ‘Umar Abdul Hafez Mousa al-Silawi Al Qassam Brigades
459 Ra’ed Abdul Rahman Mohammed al-Msamha
462 Sa’id Salah Sa’id Battah Al Qassam Brigades
478 Muhannad Ibrahim ‘Ata al-Tannani Al Quds Brigades member
484 Ibrahim Mousa Issa al-Silawi Al Qassam Brigades
987 Ahmed Hamed Hassan Abu ‘Eita Al Qassam Brigades

It seems to be very unlikely that 6 of the 15 known dead in a mosque crowded with hundreds of civilians would be terrorists. Either the mosque itself had a hundred terrorists or so, or something else is going on.

And where exactly did the blast hit? Apparently, it hit outside the mosque, not inside as Goldstone implies. So it seems more likely that the IDF hit a gathering of terrorists outside the mosque rather than a few hundred worshipers.

Unfortunately, fairness does not seem to have been a part of the Goldstone mandate, and when the evidence supports the commissions preconceived notions of the truth, they have had little incentive to look beyond the biased testimonies they eagerly accepted.

Testimony from people like the sheikh of the mosque - who happens to share the same last name as two of the Al Qassam Brigades members listed above.
Jonathan Dahoah Halevi has a more detailed analysis: (he came up with a slightly different list than mine.)
An examination of freely accessible Palestinian sources shows that the casualties in this incident were terrorist operatives and included members of the al-Silawi family, who were represented to the commission as innocent civilians.

The terrorists killed in the attack included:

  • Ibrahim Moussa Issa al-Silawi, an operative in the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' military-terrorist wing. Born December 1, 1946, in Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip. According to the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades website, Ibrahim "received his love of jihad and hatred for the Zionist enemy with his mother's milk." In 1984 he joined the Islamic Movement (which later became Hamas) and was a Muslim Brotherhood operative. He had close relations with Nizar Riyyan, a senior Hamas terrorist operative, and joined the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades in 2003, at the age of 38. He was posted to the northern Gaza Strip brigade and participated in military missions: manning front-line positions in Jabaliya, fighting IDF forces, and digging and preparing tunnels for Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades use.3
  • Omar Abd al-Hafez Moussa al-Silawi (Abu Souheib), an Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operative. Born in Saudi Arabia on September 29, 1981, and joined Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2004 he joined the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades and was posted to front-line positions on the eastern border of Jabaliya. He also prepared and planted IEDs, participated in fighting the IDF, and launched mortar shells and Kassam rockets at Israeli towns and villages.4
  • Sayid Salah Sayid Batah, an Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operative. Born on April 7, 1986, in Jabaliya. A Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood operative, he joined the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades and was deployed in the northern Gaza Strip brigade. He was posted to front-line positions in Jabaliya, prepared and planted IEDs, and dug and prepared tunnels for Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades use.5
  • Ahmed Hamad Hassan Abu Ita, an Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operative. Born in Saudi Arabia on February 15, 1984. A Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood operative, he joined the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades in 2006 and was posted to front-line positions. He fought the IDF in the Jabaliya, al-Salatin and al-Atatra regions, prepared and planted IEDs, was deployed in the suicide bombers' unit, and regularly participated in ambushes against IDF soldiers. The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades website reported that he was one of the operatives who received instructions, after the initial Israeli air attack on December 27, to deploy in accordance with previous instructions. According to the website report, on January 3 he went to the Ibrahim al-Maqadma mosque to meet "young people" and was killed in the IDF attack there.6 [Note: The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades version clearly shows that Hamas uses mosques as meeting places for its operatives to coordinate their fighting against the IDF.] His father said that during the first week of the fighting his son launched rockets into Israeli territory every day.7
  • Muhanad Ibrahim al-Tanani (Abu Islam), an operative in the Al-Quds Battalions, the military-terrorist wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, born April 23, 1988. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad website reported that his parents brought him up to love jihad. When the Second Intifada broke out he was 12, and often went to the Erez crossing with other children to throw rocks at the IDF post and confront the soldiers. In 2002 he joined the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and later its military-terrorist wing. He underwent military training and was posted to front-line positions on the northern border of the Gaza Strip. In addition to his military activities he participated in Palestinian Islamic Jihad meetings and events, and led the organization's Internet forums.8
  • Rajah Nahad Rajah Ziyyada, 18, an Al-Quds Battalions operative.9
  • Ahmed Assad Diyab Tabil, 16, a Hamas operative, was a member of the Hamas student organization, which recruited him into the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades.10
Halevi wrote a different article on YNet that looked at the case further:

What really happened at the Ibrahim al-Maqadmah mosque, named for one of the heads of Hamas’ military-terrorist wing? The Goldstone Committee version is problematic because of its many essential failures and weak spots. The committee members relied exclusively on reports from “eyewitnesses” who did not see what was happening outside, especially at the entrance where the missile hit. Moreover, the committee was aware that all the Palestinian witnesses deliberately did not give any information about the activities of the terrorist organizations, because they were afraid of Hamas.

Therefore it is logically impossible to determine unequivocally that the Palestinian statements were “credible and reliable.” Another source of wonder is the dubious methodology used by the Committee in examining the circumstances of the event. The recorded statements of the Palestinian “eyewitnesses” posted on the UN website reveal that Committee members did not ask the Palestinians even one question about armed men or weapons in the mosque, or about what was happening in the open space in front of it.

Without noticing it, Committee member Desmond Travers exposed (harpers.org) the political agenda when he said that the claims regarding the use of mosques for military purposes reflected the Western perception in certain circles that Islam was a violent religion: “We also found no evidence that mosques were used to store munitions. Those charges reflect Western perceptions in some quarters that Islam is a violent religion… If I were a Hamas operative the last place I’d store munitions would be in a mosque.”

He is apparently saying that it is wrong to even mention the claim without examining the facts. The facts, which he and the rest of the Committee never examined, contradict his position. For Hamas, the most important function of the mosques in the jihad against Israel is repeatedly mentioned, beginning with its charter, through the remarks made by the organization’s senior figures, to the documentation of the military-terrorist activities of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

During the first and second Intifadas the mosques were used to identify and recruit suicide bombers and operatives for the various military-terrorist wings, to store weapons, and as meeting places for terrorist operatives, for pre-attack briefings and as stations from which to attack IDF forces.

Two particular events which were widely covered by the media should have been a heads-up for the members of the Goldstone Committee. In August 2007 Hamas “police” attacked the Ard al-Ribat mosque, located in the Zeitun neighborhood of Gaza City and controlled by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Two years later, and one month before the Report was issued, Hamas “police” and Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operatives attacked the Ibn Taymmiyah mosque in Rafah, where armed operatives of the Jund Ansar Allah, a network affiliated with the global jihad, were located. The two attacks caused the deaths of dozens of Palestinians.

Moreover, the mosques in the Gaza Strip are engaged in a “suicide bombing competition” to determine which one bred the greatest number of bombers. The dubious title is held, apparently, by the Al-Khufla al-Rashidoun mosque in Jabaliya (not far from the Maqadmah mosque), which for years has been called the “fortress of the suicide bombers fighting for the sake of Allah.” According to the official Hamas forum, among the members of the mosque who were killed in 2000, 12 were Hamas suicide bombers and between 50 and 90 were Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operatives. One of the most famous was Ibrahim Nizar Rayyan, who was trained and sent by his father the imam to carry out a suicide bombing attack in Israel. The Goldstone Committee also closed its eyes to that information.

Seven of the 15 Palestinians killed at the mosque were members of terrorist organizations who had participated in fighting the IDF, most of them members of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military-terrorist wing, and a few of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Regarding one of them (Ahmed Abu Ita of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades), it was reported that he had gone to the Maqadmah mosque to meet “friends,” i.e., other armed terrorist operatives.

In light of the foregoing information, there is another scenario which can explain the circumstances of the attack on the mosque and bridge the gap between the positions of the IDF and the Goldstone Committee: Israeli intelligence discovered the intention of Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operative Ahmed Abu Ita to go to the Maqadmah mosque to meet other terrorist operatives there or nearby. The Israeli Air Force drone located him as he and the others arrived, but did not spot the civilians because they were inside the mosque praying.

During the narrow window of time the decision was made to attack the groups of armed terrorists near the mosque entrance. The missile launched hit them, killing some outright and damaging the mosque wall, killing Palestinians inside.

The Goldstone Committee, which did not accuse Hamas of war crimes (rather, it mentioned “Palestinian armed groups”) and rocket attacks, also did not examine the aforementioned scenario , which can easily be found in open sources, and did not even try to ask Palestinians witnesses if such a possibility could exist. Based on partial, biased information and without making an attempt to reach the truth, the Committee accused Israel of the deliberate murder of Palestinian civilians.

Ma'an, whose reporters do read Yediot Aharonot, doesn't bother to look for any evidence that could contradict the deeply flawed Goldstone fact-finding procedures. And of course it does not mention any of the victims as being known terrorists.