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August 26, 2018 7:59 am

The Guardian Promotes Hamas Claim That Israel Bombed Gaza ‘Cultural Center’

avatar by Adam Levick

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Fishing boats are seen at the seaport of Gaza City, Aug. 15, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Ibraheem Abu Mustafa.

The Guardian’s coverage of the 2014 summer Gaza war was defined by a failure to challenge Hamas claims and an obfuscation of evidence demonstrating that the terror group routinely used hospitals, mosques, schools, and homes to launch rockets, store weapons, hide command centers, shelter military personnel, and conceal tunnel shafts.

The Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent during that war was Peter Beaumont.

The reporting by their new Jerusalem correspondent, Oliver Holmes, during the recent round of fighting between Hamas and Israel suggests that this tradition of taking Hamas claims at face value while ignoring or downplaying evidence that contradicts their narrative will continue.

This pattern of bias was on display in reports on an attack that occurred on August 9. In three separate articles, encompassing more than 2,500 words, The Guardian promoted the desired Hamas narrative that the IDF attacked, for no military reason, the Said al-Mishal Center in Gaza City.

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The IDF has consistently claimed that their attack on the structure, which occurred in the context of intense fighting that included around 200 rockets fired from Gaza into Israel, was motivated by the fact that it was a base of operations for Hamas’ Internal Security Forces. (Before the attack, the IDF reportedly used what’s known as a “knock on the roof” — a practice in which a non-explosive device is fired on to the roof of a targeted building to give the inhabitants time to flee.)

Yet despite Hamas’ well-documented history of using supposedly “civilian” structures for military uses, The Guardian largely ignored the IDF’s statement and parroted Hamas claims that the IDF targeted what was merely a “cultural center.” In those three articles, The Guardian devoted a mere four sentences and 173 words to the Israeli position.

In their most recent article, “‘Our memories have vanished’: the Palestinian theatre destroyed in a bomb strike” from August 22, the Israeli response didn’t appear until the 23rd paragraph of the 1,800 word article.

Tellingly, the article informed readers that targeting a building only used for cultural events, which Hamas accused the IDF of doing, is illegal under international law, but failed to note that, per the Third Geneva Convention, “utilizing the presence of civilians … to render … military forces immune from military operations” — which is what Hamas is accused of doing — constitutes a war crime.

The other two Guardian articles on the attack consist of a letter by anti-Israel UK playwrights condemning the destruction of the “cultural centre” and an article by Oliver Holmes promoting the letter.

Of course, The Guardian could have provided readers with background to contextualize IDF claims that the building was used for both civilian and military uses, such as noting, for instance, that during the 2014 war it was well-known that Hamas’ main command bunkers were located beneath Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.

But, of course, the possibility that Hamas put civilians at risk and likely committed a war crime by using the Said al-Mishal Center as a base for its security forces, isn’t part of The Guardian‘s narrative. So their readers come away believing that the IDF intentionally attacked a civilian target, thus reinforcing their prejudices against Israel that have been nurtured by the steady stream of misinformation by The Guardian and other hostile British media outlets.

Adam Levick covers the British media for CAMERA, the 65,000-member Boston-based Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.

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