Yesterday morning, I wrote a piece questioning the journalistic ethics of some in the Israeli media and, to a larger extent, the entire international press corps over of their rush to adopt the Israeli government claim that Gaza-based terror organization Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) were behind Thursday’s triple terror attack near Eilat. As the terror attack was unfolding, Israeli warplanes were warming up to carry out airstrikes in the Gaza strip without revealing any concrete proof to the public confirming that the culprits of the attack were from Gaza. After a night of bombing, a number of senior operatives in the PRC were killed along with a handful of civilians including children.
The Real News Network’s Lia Tarachansky asked IDF Spokesperson Lt. Colonel Avital Leibovitz for evidence that the PRC was, indeed, responsible for the Eilat terror attack. Liebovitz responded that the Israel “did not say that this group was responsible for the terror attack.” This quote distanced the IDF spokesperson from the public statements Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made on the evening of the attack placing clear responsibility on the PRC. Backtracking in the interview, Liebovitz said,
We did not say that this group was responsible for the terror attack. We based this on intelligence information as well as some facts that [we] actually presented an hour ago to some wires and journalists. Some of the findings that were from the bodies of the terrorists, and they are using, for example, Kalashnikov bullets and Kalashnikov rifles [which] are very common in Gaza.
In response to this quote, Paul Woodward at War in Context responded “So, the IDF says it “knows” the gunmen came from Gaza because they were using Kalashnikovs. That’s about as logical as saying they know they came from Gaza because they appeared to be Arabs.”
The simple yet difficult to answer question remains open, who is responsible for the Eilat terror attacks? If the PRC and Hamas, both of which have denied responsibility, are not the culprits, as Lt. Col Avital Liebovitz alleges in the Real News interview, why is Israel attacking targets in Gaza with overwhelming force? Why are senior members of the Israeli and international press corps reporting unsubstantiated Israeli government claims as fact without doing the necessary legwork of revealing sources and providing verifiable proof of their material.
If the PRC episode is a harbinger of how the media is going to handle the next Israeli offensive in Gaza one sorry conclusion can be made, Prime Minister Netanyahu will be left unmolested with obloquy demanding that his government provide factual evidence to support their rationale for war.