Thursday, April 14, 2011

Isabel Kershner continues to claim that Hamas fighters were civilian

From I-Consult, a follow-up of this story I had linked to yesterday:

Yesterday's posting raised the question of the number of Gaza civilians killed in the latest round of the Hamas-Israel war.  The Times claimed "about half" of the 18 dead were civilians.  In response, and after researching the background of each casualty, this blog concluded that only five were civilians (and at least four of them were in close proximity to rocket launches). The other 13 were fighters.

In response, the New York Times correspondent, Isabel Kershner, emailed today: 

"You appear to base your assertion that four of them were Qassam fighters on a report from the Maan news agency. Our Gaza correspondent reported at the time that three of them were in fact non-combatants, but civilians collecting gravel from the old airport. There were two incidents of Israeli fire in the area that afternoon, one which killed a Hamas fighter, and another that killed the other three men."
"Our Gaza correspondent has re-checked his information and says that the three are widely regarded in Gaza as having been non-combatants. No militant group has claimed them as members, which would be highly unusual if they indeed belonged to one. I personally have checked the Iz al-Din al-Qassam Arabic website, where fallen 'resistance fighters,' or Mujahadin, are honored. Only one is honored as having been killed on April 7 -- Saleh al-Tarabin."
PCHR reported the incident this way:
According to primary information made available to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), at approximately 16:00 on Thursday, 07 April 2011, Israeli forces targeted areas surrounding Gaza International Airport; Israeli forces positioned along the border fired approximately 10 artillery shells, while Apache helicopters opened machine gun fire. The Airport is located in the far southeast of Rafah city, in the southern Gaza Strip. A number of the artillery shells landed near three Palestinian civilians who were sitting near the Airport. Two of them were killed immediately and the third civilian died of his wounds on the evening of the same day. The dead are:

1. Mohammed Eyada Eid al-Mahmoum, 25;
2. Khaled Ismail Hamdan al-Dabari; 17;
3. Saleh Jarmi Ateya al-Tarabin, 38, who died of his wounds in Gaza European Hospital in Khan Younis city.
We already know, and Kershner admits, that Tarabin was a Hamas Al Qassam member. We know from PCHR that all three of them were together.

We also know that Hamas does not create martyr pages immediately after people are killed. Sometimes they wait years.

Now, let's look at the Hamas-affiliated Palestine Times newspaper's reporting of an Al Qassam member who died of his wounds this morning - from the same attack at Rafah.

The death of Mahdi Abu Mujahid Qassam Athra was announced on Thursday 14/04/2011.He died from injuries he suffered in the Zionist bombing targeted a group of fighters east of Rafah a week ago.

Abu Athra was wounded on Thursday 07/04/2011 from a Zionist artillery bombardment that targeted a group of insurgents in the "Fork" district east of Rafah, resulting in the immediate death of 3 members of the Qassam Brigades, and Abu Athra was critically injured, so his death was announced today.
Here is a Hamas website that is agreeing with Ma'an in saying that the entire group of people targeted were fighters, and now we know that two of the four killed were claimed as "martyrs" by Hamas. The thought that the other two were civilians, hanging out with Hamas members at the airport, is untenable, especially in light of the Palestine Times and Ma'an reports.

Kershner's source is not reliable, and the PCHR is proven again to lie about civilian casualties.