Harriet Sherwood revisits 2006 Gaza Beach Incident

Harriet Sherwood’s May 23 story in the Guardian – inspired by coverage of a recent Israeli government report which concluded that the IDF did not kill Muhammad Al Durah in September 2000 – is entitled ‘Disputed deaths in Palestinian territories‘.  Sherwood’s report includes brief summaries of three additional controversial cases – Rachel Corrie death in 2003, the Gaza Beach Incident in 2006 and the 2011 death of Jawaher Abu Rahma in Bil’in.

Regarding the incident in Gaza on June 6, 2006 – in which, in the midst of ongoing rocket attacks against Israel and IDF military responses, eight Palestinian civilians were reported killed in highly disputed circumstances by an explosion on a Gaza beach – Sherwood writes the following:

In June 2006 seven members of the Ghaliya family, including five children, died in an explosion while picnicking on a Gaza beach. Footage of 10-year-old Huda Ghaliya sobbing hysterically beside the body of her father was broadcast repeatedly on Arab television networks. Witnesses said the family had been struck by an artillery shell fired from out at sea by the Israeli military. The Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, initially apologised for the incident, but an investigation by the IDF exonerated its forces. It admitted it had fired six shells towards land that afternoon, but said a separate explosion – caused by a mine planted by Hamas or an old shell – had killed the Ghaliyas. An American pro-Israel group, Camera, suggested the footage of the aftermath had been faked.

We’re of course thankful for the shout-out – CiF Watch is a CAMERA affiliate – and were also interested to learn, after a quick glance at the Guardian’s site for additional CAMERA references, that their former Jerusalem correspondent, Chris McGreal, was much less restrained than Sherwood in his characterization of the media watchdog group.  

A June 17, 2006 report McGreal authored on the incident in Gaza, titled ‘The battle of Huda Ghalia: who really killed girl’s family on Gaza beach?‘, included the following.

The military declared its version of events definitive. Others went further and saw a Palestinian conspiracy. An American pro-Israel pressure group, Camera, which seeks to influence media coverage, went so far as to suggest that the film of Huda Ghalia’s trauma was faked: “Were the bodies moved, was the girl asked to re-enact her discovery for the camera, was the video staged?”

McGreal was certainly right about one thing. CAMERA and its affiliates certainly are extremely successful at influencing the media to correct false claims about Israel and to revise reports on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict that are misleading.

So, in this spirit, we strongly suggest that those interested in learning more about the 2006 incident read the following characteristically well-researched CAMERA reports which Sherwood alludes to in her story.

Additionally, the following 2006 video by Richard Landes effectively fisks media coverage of the event.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6S96bskAwI]

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