Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Elder Of Ziyon - Israel News: More bias in Amnesty's latest anti-Israel report

In Amnesty's latest hack job on Israel, they describe their methodology:

Amnesty International has been unable to send a delegation of researchers to visit the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the conflict. The Israeli authorities have refused, up to the time of writing this report, to allow it and researchers from other international human rights organizations to enter the Gaza Strip through the Erez crossing with Israel, despite the organization’s repeated requests since the beginning of the conflict to do so. The Egyptian authorities have also not granted Amnesty International permission to enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing with Egypt, again despite the organization’s repeated requests to do so.

Amnesty International has consequently had to carry out research remotely, supported by two fieldworkers based in Gaza who were contracted to work with the organization for periods of several weeks. They travelled extensively within the Strip, visiting every site described in this briefing, interviewing victims and eyewitnesses of every case recorded and taking photos and videos of the sites. Amnesty International studied relevant documentation produced by UN agencies, Palestinian, Israeli and other non-governmental organizations, local officials, media, and others who monitored the conflict, and consulted with them as needed, before writing the report. The organization also consulted on the interpretation of photos and videoswith military experts and extensively reviewed relevant statements by the Israeli military and other official bodies.
Amnesty hired local Gazans - people who live under Hamas rule and who have witnessed Hamas executing "collaborators" in the street - to objectively investigate the circumstances of events during the war.

What a surprise that they couldn't not find any evidence of terrorist targets in these buildings!

All those interviewed by Amnesty International said that they did not expect the whole building and its contents to be destroyed. Riad al-Holi said:

“We thought they would hit a floor or two, without bringing down the whole building. I think Israel is targeting the infrastructure. There are no resistance fighters in this complex; there are no open spaces for them to fire anything from. If the tradespeople had suspected anything, they would not have kept such large stocks in their shops.”
I was unaware that the Al Qaassam Brigades and Al Quds Brigades put signs on the doors of their command and control centers with their logos so the surrounding businesses would know to evacuate the premises.

Amnesty lists the names of companies in that building, but has no idea what some of them are:

 On the third floor, there was an engineering company belonging to someone called Tayseer Abu Jarad...On the fourth floor, there were several offices, including those of three companies named al-Ruwaq, al-Uthman and Abu Shamal.
If Hamas had a weapons manufacturing facility in the "engineering company," Fatah a communications hub in "al-Ruwaq" and Islamic Jihad a command center in "Abu Shamal," would Amnesty know that based on this incredible remote investigation? 

Amnesty is the blind man next to the elephant, confidently announcing its conclusions on topics it doesn't even know enough to research properly to begin with. 

I have said before that I am not happy with how long it takes Israel to respond to these charges and to explain the evidence that they have of why they target specific locations. But the idea that Israel was wantonly targeting civilian structures for no reason except to put "pressure" on Gazans to insist that Hamas stop the war - something which has never happened - is insane. 

As usual, Amnesty knew what it was going to "report" ahead of time. The contractors were hired not to find facts but to find confirmation of Amnesty's pre-existing bias.

Even the title of the report, "Nothing is immune," is deceptive. Here is the section where Amnesty quotes it:

On the same day, Israeli news media reported that the Israeli security cabinet had decided to intensify the army’s operations by expanding their aerial attacks against a broader range of areas. An Israeli security official was quoted saying: “Areas from which rockets are being launched will be targeted in a severe and massive manner, even if this includes buildings with the assistance of which the attacks were being carried out.”9 Another security official reportedly stated: “Nothing is immune, even if a 14-story building has terrorist activity, the building will be damaged and will collapse.”
A senior military officer speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed that Israel had adopted a “policy of striking at buildings containing Hamas operational centres or those from which military activities are launched. There is now a widening of locations that the military can target.” The official reportedly added: “Each strike requires prior approval from military lawyers and is carried out only after the local population is warned.”
What this means is that Israel was voluntarily holding back on hitting targets that were fully valid within international law up until that point, and decided to widen the scope - but still within the law. Amnesty cannot find any real evidence that Israel violated international law; instead it makes assumptions about proportionality and distinction that it is not in a position to make without mind-reading.

Notice how Amnesty uses the word "reportedly" here. In the original Independent article, the same official is quoted for all the things he says, none of his quotes are any less accurate than any other, but since he is saying something that exonerates Israel from the charge of violating international law, Amnesty has to add a qualifying statement that was not in the original.

If lawyers are consulted before each major airstrike - and there is no reason to assume they are not - then that means that the lawyers have far more information than Amnesty has in determining the value of the target and the methods allowed to hit it.  Amnesty wants to cast doubt in the reader's mind about this very point, so it adds the dismissive "reportedly " (IDF lawyers also know international law far better than Amnesty does.)

And then, based on this highly skewed version of half-facts, Amnesty announces that Israel is guilty of war crimes.

In short, this shoddy, amateurish report is what we expect from Amnesty when reporting on Israel - bias over facts and slander over research.