If you were to base your conclusions about the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas solely on reports in the British media, you’d possibly believe that not only did the IDF fail to take adequate precautions to avoid civilian casualties, but that it may have even targeted Palestinian children.
So one-sided was the coverage, and so lacking in necessary context when reporting on civilian deaths, that the vast moral asymmetry between Hamas fighters who cynically placed their own civilians in harm’s way and the IDF who took unprecedented measures to minimize civilian deaths eluded most observers.
Those who have, until now, rejected such Israeli ‘claims’ as merely representing propaganda will have a difficult time dismissing a new 80 page report by international military experts which concluded that Western armies would be rendered far less effective if “forced to operate under the same restrictions as the IDF”.
The months-long investigation into the war by the High Level Military Group (HLMG), made up of retired generals and defense officials from nine countries, concluded that Israel not only abided by the laws of armed conflict, but far surpassed their requirements.
Israel’s “knock on the roof” technique, telephone calls and leaflets dropped warning non-combatants to leave the area of impending attacks and missions canceled due to possible civilian casualties represented a far higher level of restraint than other Western armies, the report concluded.
The IDF standard, explained one HLMG author, Richard Kemp (former commander of British forces in Afghanistan), would be “a hindrance to Western military expediency”.
The report also concluded that much Western media commentary on the 2014 war included “stark, unwarranted condemnations of the IDF’s conduct that do not accord with our own examination”.
HLMG blamed the “vast majority of civilian casualties” on Hamas, who “instituted a deliberate policy to cause as many Palestinian civilian deaths as possible in order to wage a PR war against Israel.” Such policies, largely ignored by the British media, included the systematic use of human shields “to avert strikes on its military infrastructure embedded in urban Gaza”
Of course, the conclusions of the HLMG report will almost certainly be ignored by the same journalists always willing to amplify reports by radical NGOs critical of Israel’s conduct during the war.
As we’ve demonstrated continually on this blog, the most egregious problem with UK media coverage of Israel is not only their institutional pro-Palestinian bias, but their inability to engage in self-reflection, examine long-held assumptions and change course when presented with evidence contradicting their cherished beliefs.