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July 19, 2023 6:05 am

‘The Guardian’ Falls Victim to Amnesia in Piece About Israel Targeting Islamic Jihad Terrorists

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avatar by Rachel O'Donoghue


Illustrative. Rockets are fired from Gaza into Israel, in Gaza May 11, 2023. REUTERS/Mohammd Salem

Shortly after prominent Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) figure Khader Adnan starved himself to death in an Israeli prison, a conflagration between PIJ and Israel was sparked when, hours after Adnan’s death on May 2, Islamic Jihad fired more than 100 rockets from Gaza toward population centers in southern Israel. At least one projectile hit its target in the city of Sderot, wounding three foreign nationals.

A week later, the IDF launched its legally-sanctioned defense of Israel in the form of Operation Shield and Arrow, which saw precision strikes take out three senior Islamic Jihad operatives who were responsible for the previous rocket fire and were also planning further terror attacks.

Given these events occurred mere weeks ago, we must assume The Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Bethan McKernan has a very short memory indeed.

In her latest co-bylined piece about Israel’s so-called “targeted killing operations” in Gaza, she appears to be both confused about the timeline of the conflict and unable to recall what necessitated the IDF’s response in the first place.

In the piece, which details how several NGOs are challenging Israel’s supreme court to conduct independent probes into civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip, McKernan incorrectly reports that the IDF’s strikes on May 9 comprised a “surprise Israeli airstrike campaign” that shattered a “ceasefire” — apparently ignoring the fact that the opening salvo actually came from Islamic Jihad.

A notable aspect of the article is the emotive emphasis on the deaths of two sisters in the Hamas-ruled enclave, who died during a strike to take out senior Islamic Jihad commander Khalil al-Bahtini in a neighboring property.

While their deaths are undoubtedly tragic, it is conspicuous that there is no mention of why Israel was forced to target Bahtini. If there had been, Guardian readers would know that his terror career stretches back to the 1990s and saw him orchestrate numerous suicide bombings and rocket attacks on Israeli civilians.

In August 2022, Bahtini was awarded his most senior role in Islamic Jihad as head of the designated terror organization’s Northern Gaza Division. At the time of his death, he was planning an imminent campaign of shooting attacks.

Throughout the piece, doubt is repeatedly cast on the IDF’s guarantee that everything possible is done to minimize civilian casualties, including the conspiratorial suggestion that Israeli officials had used different “language” when discussing Operation Shield and Arrow than in previous conflicts:

In the past, Israeli officials have claimed it was not known that women and children would be killed in strikes targeting members of Gaza’s armed groups. But during Shield and Arrow the language used by the government and IDF shifted markedly, suggesting that instead measures were taken to reduce ‘necessary’ collateral damage […]

The IDF maintains that Shield and Arrow was a proportionate response against violence emanating from the strip, and the assassinations were postponed twice to “ensure suitable conditions and minimise civilian casualties”.

Of course, what should have been noted in the piece is that nothing material has changed in the IDF’s policy of minimizing harm to civilians while still being able to defend itself from terrorist attacks.

Such measures have included making phone calls and sending text messages to civilians in buildings that will be targeted to warn them to evacuate and so-called “roof-knocking” on buildings that contain terrorist infrastructure, which involves dropping a loud but non-lethal bomb to alert civilians to the fact they are in a building containing weapons.

The death of every civilian is a tragedy. Using their deaths to take aim at the IDF for its legitimate pursuit of murderous terrorists is simply shameless.

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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