The Guardian’s coverage of the 2014 summer war was defined by a failure to challenge Hamas claims, and an obfuscation of evidence demonstrating that the terror group routinely used hospitals, mosques, schools and homes to launch rockets, store weapons, hide command centres, shelter military personnel and conceal tunnel shafts.
The Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent during that war was Peter Beaumont.
The reporting by their new Jerusalem correspondent, Oliver Holmes, during the recent round of fighting between Hamas and Israel suggests that this tradition – of taking Hamas claims at face value whilst ignoring or downplaying evidence which contradicts their narrative – will continue.
This pattern of bias was on display in reports on an attack that occurred on Aug. 9. In three separate articles, encompassing over 2500 words, the Guardian promoted the desired Hamas narrative that the IDF attacked, for no military reason, the Said al-Mishal Centre in Gaza City.
The IDF has consistently claimed that their attack on the structure, which occurred in the context of intensive fighting which included around 200 rockets fired from Gaza into Israel, was motivated by the fact that it was a base of operations by Hamas’s Internal Security Forces. (Before the attack, the IDF reportedly used what’s known as a ‘knock on the roof’, a practice in which a non-explosive device is fired on the roof of a targeted building to give the inhabitants time to flee.)
Yet, despite Hamas’s well-documented history of using such putatively ‘civilian’ structures for military uses, the Guardian largely ignored the IDF’s statement, and parroted Hamas claims that the IDF targeted what was merely a “cultural centre”. In three articles, encompassing over 2500 words of text, the Guardian devoted a mere four sentences, and 173 words, to the Israeli position.
In their most recent article, ‘Our memories have vanished’: the Palestinian theatre destroyed in a bomb strike, Aug. 22, the Israeli response didn’t appear until the 23rd paragraph of the 1800 word article.
Tellingly, the article informed readers that targeting a building only used for cultural events, which Hamas accused the IDF of doing, is illegal under international law, but failed to note that, per the Third Geneva Convention, “utilizing the presence of a civilians…to render…military forces immune from military operations”, which is what Hamas is accused of, constitutes a war crime.
The other two Guardian articles on the attack consist of a letter, by anti-Israel UK playwrights, condemning the destruction of the “cultural centre”, and an article by Oliver Holmes promoting the playwrights’ letter.
Of course, the Guardian could have provided readers background to contextualise IDF claims that the building was used for both civilian and military uses, by noting, for instance, that during the 2014 war, it was well-known that Hamas’ main command bunkers was located beneath Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.
But, of course, the possibility that Hamas put civilians at risk, and likely committed a war crime, by using the Said al-Mishal Centre as a base for its security forces, isn’t part of the Guardian narrative. So, their readers come away believing that the IDF intentionally attacked a civilian target, thus reinforcing their prejudices against Israel nurtured by the steady stream of misinformation by the Guardian and other hostile British media outlets.