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September 1, 2022 11:21 am
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No Jews, No News: The Deadly Gaza Explosion the Media Didn’t Cover

avatar by Akiva Van Koningsveld

Opinion

An aerial view of Israeli Defense Forces working to uncover a Hamas attack tunnel near the northern border of the Gaza Strip on August 15, 2022. Credit: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit

Why did the world’s leading news organizations choose not to report on the death of an innocent Palestinian — or those injured — as the result of an explosion in Gaza?

On the afternoon of Tuesday, August 23, a powerful explosion rocked the Khan Yunis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip, home to about 87,000 people. Photos taken by eyewitnesses showed thick black smoke filling the streets of the crowded city; a residential building was destroyed in the blast.

According to Palestinian accounts (for instance, herehere, and here), the explosion occurred in an apartment right behind the UNRWA-run Mustafa Hafez elementary school, which is located just a stone’s throw away from the Nasser Medical Center, Gaza’s second-largest hospital.

Palestinian sources initially reported the death of 9-year-old Mira al-Attal and her relative who owned the flat, Nidal al-Attal. The latter appeared to be a member of a Palestinian terrorist group. At least six others sustained injuries as a result of the blast.

The Hamas-affiliated Shehab News Agency attributed the deaths to an “accidental explosion.” In a statement, the US-designated terrorist organization’s “Interior Ministry” said it launched a probe into the matter.

With regards to possible Israeli involvement, IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Richard Hecht confirmed that there wasn’t any, asserting on Twitter that “weapons stored unsafely in the house of a member of a Palestinian terrorist group exploded and killed a young child in the vicinity.”

But, as is par for the course, when the Jewish state cannot be blamed for Palestinian suffering, the international press completely ignored the story.

Still, while it might not fit the media’s reflexive anti-Israel narrative, last week’s incident again demonstrated Gaza-based terrorist groups’ disregard for civilian life and international law.

Palestinian media outlets have reported on multiple “accidental explosions” caused by terrorist activities originating in civilian neighborhoods — including a July 2021 blast in a Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) weapons depot near Gaza City’s Al-Zawiya market that killed one person and injured 14 others.

However, the latest incident in Khan Yunis is especially egregious, and thus newsworthy, due to the explosion’s proximity to multiple hospitals and UN-run educational facilities — both of which are entitled to protection under customary international law (see herehere, and here).

Indeed, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and other terror organizations are known to use residential buildings, hotels, hospitals, and UNRWA schools as launching pads for attacks against Israel.

This amounts to a double war crime: the deliberate firing of rockets at Israel, while Gazans are used as human shields to fend off Israeli actions aimed to protect over nine million civilians.

Hamas’ and PIJ’s tactic of militarizing residential areas in Gaza has led to the death and maiming of many Palestinian civilians, especially given the fact that the missiles launched by these terrorist outfits at Israeli civilian population centers frequently fall inside the coastal enclave.

Meanwhile, as repeatedly outlined by HonestReporting, the IDF goes to great lengths to avoid harming innocents, often going beyond its obligations under international conventions.

For example, during the August 5-7, 2022, military confrontation with PIJ, Jerusalem called off many airstrikes at the 11th hour, even when they provided the IDF with a “concrete and direct military advantage.”

While acknowledging that civilian casualties and injuries are an unfortunate outcome of hostilities, international law recognizes the Jewish state’s right to defend its citizens against indiscriminate attacks by an enemy who does not adhere to the same legal norms governing armed conflict.

Yet the media only raises an eyebrow when Israel alone can somehow be connected to the loss of Palestinian life.

In the aftermath of Operation Breaking Dawn against PIJ, the Associated Press wire service on August 10 ran an article highlighting the story of Duniana al-Amour, a Palestinian artist allegedly killed in an Israeli strike on Khan Yunis.

The piece, which was reprinted by The Washington Post and ABC News, contended that al-Amour’s death “underscores the vulnerability of Palestinian civilians during the frequent conflicts.”

As the August 23 explosion proves, this is certainly true — but not in the way the AP wants its readers to think.

Targeting Israel for character assassination is bad enough.

But the media’s silence does something even worse: it effectively normalizes the death of innocent civilians by terrorist organizations.

How many more innocent Palestinians need to die before news outlets acknowledge a simple truth: terrorists in the Gaza Strip are knowingly putting Palestinian lives at risk?

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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