An update on Chris McGreal and that Gaza “sports stadium”

Chris McGreal, a Guardian journalist singled out by the CST in their 2011 Report on Antisemitic Discourse in Britain, wrote a piece, on Nov. 21, on the aftermath of the recent war in Gaza titled ‘Palestinians count dead after one of the worst days of the war.

The piece consisted of accounts of Palestinian deaths during ‘Pillar Of Defense’ and, more broadly, suggested that Israel’s military behaved unethically in the context of purported civilian casualty figures and what he claimed were non-military sites in Gaza attacked by the IDF.

Our post in response to McGreal’s Nov. 21 report focused on two points – his use of inflated casualty figures obtained by a radical NGO with sympathies towards Palestinian extremists, and his suggestion that Israel bombed several targets which had no military value.

Regarding the latter charge, here’s the passage from McGreal’s report we cited:

“Then there were the targets. The Israeli army said: “The sites that were targeted were positively identified by precise intelligence over the course of several months.” But many seemed to have little military value. A football stadium blown to bits…” [emphasis added]

We noted that McGreal completely ignored widely published reports (including at the BBC and an update from the Guardian’s own live blog on the war) that the stadium was targeted because Hamas had used it as a missile launching site a couple of days earlier.

Interestingly, McGreal, in a report a couple of days later (Nov. 30) on opposition by a few European football players to plans to hold the U21 European championship in Israel, mentioned the ‘stadium’ attack again – albeit, in a slightly different manner.

McGreal wrote the following:

“A group of Premier League footballers and players in other major European leagues have condemned plans to hold the Under-21 European championship in Israel next year, saying it will be seen as a “reward” for this month’s assault on Gaza in which young people playing football were killed when a sports stadium was bombed.” [emphasis added]

However, later in his piece, McGreal actually acknowledged reports that the site was targeted because of its military use by Hamas.

“[The players cited the] destruction of a football stadium which the Israeli military said had previously been used by Hamas as a rocket launching site but which at the time of the bombing was not.” [emphasis added]

While it’s interesting that McGreal finally saw fit to include at least a little balance in his latest mention of the Gaza ‘stadium’, note the qualifier at the end of the sentence highlighted above, “…but which at the time of the bombing was not.“.

So, the stadium may have indeed been used as a rocket launching site by Hamas, but McGreal evidently deemed it necessary to instruct readers that Hamas certainly wasn’t firing a rocket at Israel from the stadium at the precise time the IDF attacked it!

Evidently, McGreal’s ‘Just War Theory’ would require that the IDF avoid targeting an enemy rocket launching site which has been used to attack Israeli civilians until the exact moment when another rocket is being fired from the location – not a second before and not a second after.

Chris McGreal’s rhetorical obfuscations in service of a desired narrative are truly works of beauty.

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