A Guest Post by AKUS
Harriet Sherwood, the Guardian’s de facto reporter on events in Gaza and the West Bank, had a curious column that was not open for comment: UN in Gaza orders weapons to protect its head. By “head”, the Guardian is referring to the abominable John Ging of UNRWA.
John Ging is found at the forefront of those condemning Israel for the blockade of Gaza. During “Cast Lead”, he accused Israel of destroying “thousands of tons of food” that for some reason sits in UNRWA depots instead of being distributed to those who, apparently, need it. He was the source of the disproved accusation that Israel shelled a UN school during “Cast Lead”, when it turned out that Israel retaliated against Hamas terrorists using the area near the school to attack Israeli troops. He has laid out the welcoming mat for the “Elders” visit to Gaza, a group that includes (former) President Jimmy Carter, notorious for his book comparing Israel to South Africa, and (former) Archbishop Tutu, now leading the charge for an academic boycott of Ben Gurion University in South Africa. He supported the Mavi Marmara flotilla that led to the violent confrontation in which nine terrorists were killed and several Israel soldiers severely wounded.
One would imagine that a man with such a fine record would be able to stroll easily around the streets of Gaza, perhaps leaving his compound for a nice breakfast at one of the luxury hotels that line the beachfront, followed by a swim at Crazy Waterpark (oops – sorry – under new management) and ending the day with a well-deserved meal at Roots restaurant, while once more bending the ear of a gullible Western reporter or an Elder about the horrors of life in Gaza.
For some reason, there are people in Gaza who seem to dislike him even more than Israel does. Rather more, given the attempts by Gazan elements to assassinate him. Referring to the need for protection, France 24 cited an AFP report dated November 5th that:
“However, Ging has been attacked in the past by radical Islamist groups in the volatile territory, and in 2007 one person was killed and six wounded in an attack on a UNWRA school.”
Or, as Harriet wrote, also on November 5th, typically puffing up this lying Israel-hater while glossing over the identity of his attackers:
“There have been two attempts to assassinate Ging, an energetic and charismatic advocate for the rights of Palestinian refugees. In March 2007, masked gunman fired at least 14 bullets at Ging’s armoured car as it travelled through Gaza. A second attack a few months later left one Palestinian dead and several wounded.
Earlier this year, arsonists attacked a site at which UNRWA was hosting summer games for Gazan children, leaving behind three bullets as a warning to Ging”.
One might imagine that Ging would have simply stopped on his way to the beach and picked up an AK-47 from one of the friendly locals selling them in Gaza’s markets. Perhaps he could have called on Mr. Haniyah, who seems to have an endless supply to dish out to his thugs so that they can terrorize the locals. But no, that is not the case. When the going gets tough, Mr. Ging, frequent Israel-basher, turns to the only reliable source he can find – Israel, as France 24, but not the Guardian, unabashedly pointed out in its headline: Israel allows machine guns into Gaza to protect UN aid chief. You have to get below the header, sub-header, and photograph to the body of the Guardian’s article to discover that “Israeli authorities have approved the delivery of four submachine guns to the main UN agency in Gaza for the protection of its head, John Ging, following assassination attempts and death threats.”
I wonder when the reality of the situation in Gaza will finally dawn on him. Like the missionaries of old sent out to convert the heathens, it is precisely John Ging, responsible for UNRWA in Gaza, that the theocratic thugs (“masked gunmen”) ruling Gaza object to and would like to drop into the pot.
(Postscript: It is curious how similar the language is in the reports on this issue from various media including Arab media – e.g. NOW! Lebanon and Ma’an News Agency. Pretty clearly they are drawing off the same source, which in this case appears to be a statement by Major Guy Inbar, an Israeli military spokesman, via AFP. A little attribution by the Guardian might be nice, both to AFP and certainly to the Israeli military spokesman: Israel allows machine guns into Gaza to protect UN aid chief.
Unlike the Guardian or AFP, Ha’aretz made no bones about who Ging fears: UN Gaza leaders given submachine guns for protection ‘against Hamas’ – “The organization told Israeli security officials that its personnel are being threatened by Hamas representatives”.
With the advantage of actually having a Hebrew speaking staff, Ha’aretz could apparently dig a little further rather than just dressing up Inbar’s statement or AFP’s boilerplate. According to Ha’aretz, Israel’s Eli Yishai initially “turned down the request because [his ministry] is authorized only to license handguns”. Under pressure from the UN (!!) Israel relented. The UN insisted on German Heckler and Koch submachine guns, and there was a delay that the [Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories] office said “was because UNRWA received authorization from the Germans only five months ago.” Presumably the Germans are worried about the repercussions if an UNRWA representative shoots a Hamas terrorist with a German weapon).